Anyone know about old type faces?
May 9, 2005 3:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm reading a French text printed in Paris in 1527. The language is clear enough, no less intuitive than Olde Englysh, but the typography can be a poser. Can anyone recommend a particularly good reference text (or web site) that lists the various abbreviations, letter, and number variations, that keep cropping up?
posted by IndigoJones to Media & Arts (5 answers total)

You might want to try this software called Abbreviationes. It is primarily abbreviations, but iirc I think it also includes ligature marks and other related things. In theory this webpage might be helpful, unfortunately I can't seem to actually see the gifs. But anyway, the images there are taken from the Dizionario di Abbreviature, which is usually available from Schoenhof's. The lib. cong. number is Z111 .C24 so if there is a decent library nearby you might go check it out and poke around for similar things nearby. It isn't specifically designed for printed works, but I think many of the same abbreviations are retained depending on the type.

Many older works would put a completely block of all the type used at either the beginning or the end of the work.

All that said, as someone with a miniscule amount of experience in reading early printed works in foreign languages with odd fonts and other quirks, I would suggest that the easiest way to learn to read it quickly is to practice reading it aloud.

good luck
posted by mokujin at 8:20 PM on May 9, 2005

Response by poster: Great stuff even if it doesn't work out! And if it does, a debt of gratitude.

Many thanks
posted by IndigoJones at 4:48 AM on May 10, 2005

Cappeli's Dizionario di Abbreviature lists all the abbreviations found in medieval manuscripts; this may give you more information than you actually need. You might be better off with McKerrow's Introduction to Bibliography, which includes an appendix on "abbreviations and contractions in early printed books".

The commonest contractions you are likely to encounter in a work of that date are: a horizontal line over a vowel (which means you need to supply an 'n' or 'm' after the vowel); a 'p' with a squiggle on the tail (which stands for 'per' or 'pro'); and a sign like a superscript 9 (which stands for 'us', usually at the end of a word).
posted by verstegan at 5:17 AM on May 10, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you, verstegan. Cite the bookshop and the next time I'm in Durham....

(Or are you only mail order? So many are these day. Understandable if rather sad making.)
posted by IndigoJones at 2:54 PM on May 10, 2005

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