21 October, 2008
Atoms & Aldus
Right: Ioannis Aurelius Augurellus, published by Aldus Manutius. Venice, 1505.
Last week I mentioned the atomic pen, which scientists used to construct some awfully tiny letters one atom at a time. These are small letters indeed: measuring two nanometers in height, they’re about 1/40000 the thickness of a human hair, which surely gives their inventor enough credibility to issue the casual throwdown that “it’s not possible to write any smaller than this.” But it is, of course, and the technique for doing so has been known to typefounders for more than five hundred years...Continues...
26 June, 2008
The Smallest Letter in the World
A nice surprise: inside a folder of oversize type proofs, I found a stowaway: A Specimen of Printing Types by Joseph Fry and Sons, Letter-Founders, 1785. Like many contemporary type specimens, it separates dinner from dessert: on the front are romans and italics, in sizes from Long Primer (10pt) to Four Lines Pica (48pt), and on the back are all the specialty types. The latter category includes types for Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Greek, and Samaritan, a collection of ornaments and coats of arms, a blackletter in nine sizes, and the above, a roman cut in the Diamond size (4pt) and identified as “The Smallest Letter in the WORLD.” It looks pretty good for a 223-year-old! —JH