April 1

In Augsburg, Germany a printer named Erhardus Ratdolt printed a broadside specimen sheet on the first day of April in 1486. Upon the sheet appeared ten sizes of textura rotunda, or round gothic, three roman types and one Greek. In the colophon the printer titled his sheet Indicis characterum diversarum manerierum impression! paraterum. Finis.

The only specimen sheet of printer’s types which has come down to us prior to Ratdolt’s is a publisher’s advertisement issued by Peter Schoeffer of Mainz, probably in 1467, according to the historian Stanley Morison. He points out that Ratdolt’s use of the word “Index” is important, as it represents the only known application of the term to a catalogue of types during the 15th century.

Many gaps exist in the study of the development of types, owing primarily to the lack of concise information regarding their origin. Bibliographers, particularly, are anxious to have exact sources by which they can determine the origin of texts and their subsequent editions and variations. The lack of precise information is of course more serious for the 15th and 16th centuries, but even in the later periods there are numerous problems to be solved. Modern texts on the development of types must compromise in the reproduction of historical specimens. It is seldom possible to reproduce the originals in the same size, thereby making an exact identification extremely difficult for the bibliographer.

Since the publication of Daniel B. Updike’s Printing Types, Their History, Forms, and Use, in 1922, great strides have been made in typographical scholarship, but much remains to be accomplished.

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