Mammotrectus super Bibliam

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The Early Days of Type Design

The Mammotrectus was one of the classic theological works of the thirteenth century and first printed in 1470 by the printing office of Johann Fust and his son-in-law Peter Schoeffer. It contained explanations of old Bible words, orthographic treatises and legends of the saints and was, therefore, a much consulted reference work. Its distinction as a text is indicated by the fact that it was reprinted some 23 times during the fifteenth century, the edition shown here being what is known as the “editio princeps.”

The type used for the book is known as the Durandus, introduced by Fust and Schoeffer in 1459 and extremely important in the history of typeface development. Substantially different from the larger, more formal black-letter faces, the Durandus may be considered one of the first small text faces, legible yet compact. It is interesting to note how closely the type designer has followed the pen-driven models of the manuscript era. In fact, on first examination, the book appears to have been written by hand. This book concludes with famous printer’s mark of Fust & Schoeffer.

Schoeffer, Fust, black letter, 15th Century