Earlier this week I went to the library in Fermo to see some Reinassance books with Luciano and Paolo. I am not allowed to publish the pictures we took of Arrighi and Cresci manuals because you need to have a license from the Government to do that in Italy (if the material is from a public library), so I decided to do something a bit more radical.
I quite liked a page from Ludovico Vicentino degli Arrighi’s Il modo de temperare le penne con le varie sorti de’ littere ordinato per Ludovico Vicentino where he showed a roman lowercase alphabet, possibly as a typeface sample although it’s clearly hand-lettered, then carved in wood and xilographed into the page. Looking back at the pictures, once at home, I realized it was very similar to an alphabet I have always loved called Zeno, designed by Giovanni Mardersteig and cut by Charles Malin. Zeno is not available in digital as far as I know: maybe the Officina Bodoni has its own internal VAL digitization, but it’s not for the general public. I then dug my copy of Scritti di Giovanni Mardersteig sulla storia dei caratteri e della tipografia and found that Zeno is indeed based on an Arrighi sample, but not the one I was seeing. It’s based on a manuscript by Arrighi himself called the Missale Romanum, which I’m eager to have a look at.
And here’s where I start to get all radical: I decided to do one of my excercises and quickly digitized the Arrighi page I had. It’s a very loose digitization because the Arrighi sample has many imprecisions and details I didn’t quite like, but the general idea is there. I called this excecise Gratie: I started this morning and at the moment it’s a very blobby calligraphic serif study, with just the letters in the Arrighi page. Maybe I’ll expand the character set, if I find a way to tame the rampant irregularities. See the top of this post for a Gratie sample. I would love to see the Missale Romanum before going further with this excercise, though, because starting from an incomplete sample doesn’t seem like a very wise idea.
Update: here’s a reworking of the lowercase so far, I removed a lot of weight, tamed many irregularities, fixed details and generally parted ways with the most problematic (to my eye) shapes in the old version:
A comparison of the weight loss in the lowercase a:
In other news, I finally received my unconditional offer from the Reading university, which means they received my IELTS test results. I’ve been thinking about a tentative departure date for the 22nd of September, but I’ll need to see if my room is ready by then, which doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. We’ll see I guess.