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You are here: Home / Conferences / Amsterdam 2013 / Presentation programme

Spatial relationships among 16th-century matrices (and what they tell us)

When Sat 12 Oct 0900
Where Krasnapolsky A
What Place and design
Who Fred Smeijers

By whatever means we compose words, and in whatever medium, the words we read best are those whose letters look good together. Letters should create a ‘word-image’ that is settled, balanced, and even. Creating good spatial relationships between letters, and quality word-images, has been the constant concern of type makers throughout history, right up the present day. This presentation will offer a close look at surviving matrices at the Plantin-Moretus Museum. The matrices offer valuable insights into methods used in the 16th century to space letters and create word-images. They offer proof of the (high) level of spacing precision that could be achieved at the time. Measurements of matrices at the Plantin-Moretus also indicate that as early as 1550 typefounders were experimenting with different typemaking methods in search of greater flexibility and economy, which resulted in varied working practices in operation in different places. The presentation will include thoughts on present-day knowledge of spatial relationships in type design, and the methods and precision deployed in the search for good word-images.

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