Venetian: the beginning of our fonts, Nicholas Jenson
Venetian: Adobe Jenson Pro
Shortly after Gutenberg got things rolling in Germany a group of printers in Italy became interested in reviving some of the letterforms instituted by Charlemagne at the founding of the Holy Roman Empire in the 8th century. The creative innovation was provided by Nicholas Jenson in Venice who combined the inscriptional caps with the Carolingian miniscules without many of the cursive remains. The gorgeous result is what we now call caps and lowercase, our assumed alphabet.
- Wide caps: The circular characters like the O are actually a circle drawn with a humanist axis.
- Little modulation: There is very little thick–thin contrast so the modulation is not readily apparent.
- Small counter in the a
- Slanted e: The crossbar on the e is slanted and there is usually a little spur at the end of it.
- Slightly flared stems: open and graceful character shapes
- Slightly inclined serifs: Usually showing their calligraphic roots by dipping a little on the left and trailing slightly wider on the right side.
- Open aperture: The a, C, c, e, S, & s are open with no possibility of confusion with the o or each other.
In the original, there were many curious shapes. The neat, crisp digital shapes we are accustomed to did not exist in the lead characters cast from hand carved metal molds. The scan above is from the University of Florida’s Rare Book collection.
Other fonts in this group would be ITC Berkeley Oldstyle, Centaur, and ITC Legacy Serif.