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Typefoundries in the Netherlands by Charles Enschedé (1978)

Contributed by Blythwood on Jul 1st, 2021. Artwork published in .
    Typefoundries in the Netherlands by Charles Enschedé (1978) 1
    Noord-Hollands Archief. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The Noord-Hollands Archief has begun to digitise materials from the archives of Joh. Enschedé of Haarlem, one of the longest-existing printing companies. One work this initiative has now made accessible everywhere is the monumental 1978 edition of Dr. Charles Enschedé’s 1908 book Typefoundries in the Netherlands, translated into English and edited by Harry Carter, Netty Hoeflake and Lotte Hellinga and printed by Bram de Does. (See discussion on TypeDrawers here, here.)

    The book is handset in metal type, Jan van Krimpen’s Romanée. Weighing in at 4.5kg, it includes extensive showings of historic metal types in Enschedé’s collections dating back as far as the fifteenth century, including full character sets and resettings of entire ornamented title pages and page layouts. These were mostly cast and typeset for the 1908 edition: due to the survival of the standing metal type they could be reprinted again for the 1978 edition. The paper was specified by de Does. It’s an astonishing experience seeing historic typefaces cast and printed with modern technology, frequently revealing a staggering crispness the printing technology of their time often could not show.

    De Does’ design uses Romaneé with footnotes and section headings in the margin. A Lombardic capital-style C (see discussion below) is used as a bracket to mark additional information breaking into Enschedé's text. The body text is not set in columns.

    Enschedé's 1893 commemoration of the foundry’s 150th anniversary has also been digitised by Google.

    Page layout, with footnotes at the bottom of the page.
    Noord-Hollands Archief. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Page layout, with footnotes at the bottom of the page.

    Pages 404-5, display layout of modern-face types
    Noord-Hollands Archief. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Interlaced capitals of c. 1578, probably by Hendrik van den Keere (see John A. Lane’s 1995 article and 2004 book on the Plantin-Moretus collections, p. 42.) The Lombardic initial C is used as a bracket indicating an addition to Enschedé's original text. The translation uses ‘fount’, the normal use for metal type.
    Noord-Hollands Archief. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Interlaced capitals of c. 1578, probably by Hendrik van den Keere (see John A. Lane’s 1995 article and 2004 book on the Plantin-Moretus collections, p. 42.) The Lombardic initial C is used as a bracket indicating an addition to Enschedé's original text. The translation uses ‘fount’, the normal use for metal type.

    Engrossing initials, perhaps conceived by Willem Silvius. There were similar ‘secretary’ script types around the same time, both in the Low Countries and in London, and the James foundry had two in the spectacular “court hand” style. Both styles appear in an auction specimen of 1782; there's some more information in Carter and Ricks’ edition of Rowe Mores, pp. 112-3.
    Noord-Hollands Archief. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Engrossing initials, perhaps conceived by Willem Silvius. There were similar ‘secretary’ script types around the same time, both in the Low Countries and in London, and the James foundry had two in the spectacular “court hand” style. Both styles appear in an auction specimen of 1782; there's some more information in Carter and Ricks’ edition of Rowe Mores, pp. 112-3.

    The oldest roman type for which matrices survive, Cologne, c. 1527. Enschedé were able to fill out the character set through electrotyping and cutting replacement characters.
    Noord-Hollands Archief. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The oldest roman type for which matrices survive, Cologne, c. 1527. Enschedé were able to fill out the character set through electrotyping and cutting replacement characters.

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    3 Comments on “Typefoundries in the Netherlands by Charles Enschedé (1978)”

    1. Thank you, Blythwood!

      Is it an established fact that the bracket-like character started life as a Lombardic initial C? It also resembles a stylized pilcrow.

    2. That’s an interesting question, and something I deliberately didn’t get into!

      The character seems to be the C from Lombardic Initial No. 4 in the text shown on p. 22, known from 1503. To my eyes there seems to be a very, very slight difference in weight of the terminal bulbs sometimes, but it’s such a small one (feel free to compare) I imagine it’s just worn type or a casting/electrotype flaw (or a character made in imitation, but it seems hard to imagine why you’d bother). Anyhow, it’s not as far as I can see discussed in the text, or the colophon at the end. There are pilcrows (I assume) in their black letter no. 1 and 3 shown on p. 28. The foundry’s Lombardic Initial no. 2 is similar but not exactly the same. I’ve also added a direct link in the text per your request.

    3. Thank you for digging up all these links! Yes, I can see the resemblance, and I agree with your assessment. Let’s assume it’s a C used in a pilcrow-like function. I’ve added the repurposed glyphs tag.

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