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About This Site
Design philosophy: all information in this web site should be accessible to the intended audience regardless of platform, browser, or size of screen. Graphics are kept to a minimum to reduce download times. If you see a frame or an animated GIF, feel free to flame me mercilessly.
This site uses fully compliant cascading style sheets (CSS). Older browsers should display text in their default fonts, while more recent browsers will all display fully formatted text. (However, the styles sheets will look best viewed in Internet Explorer 4.0 or above.) The site also complies with major accessibility standards.
The base font for this page is Trebuchet MS, a free font from Microsoft designed for on-screen readability at small point sizes. The headlines are 32 pt Times bold italic, combining elegance, classical proportions, and compactness.
The logo is variation on the original logo from Aldus PageMaker and depicts Aldus Manutius, a student of Johannes Gutenberg and inventor of italics. This is to echo the roots of desktop publishing, both in the 1450s and the 1980s. The logo uses Courier from ITC to evoke the feel of metal type and Poetica from Adobe Systems to evoke the era of hand lettering.
Aldus Pius Manutius
Aldus Manutius (or Aldo Manuzio) was born in Bassiano, Italy, in 1449. As this was the renaissance and his family was well off, he was educated as a humanistic scholar and began his career as a tutor to some of the great Italian ducal families.
Student of Johannes Gutenberg, who was named the most influential man of the millennium.
became a publisher and printer when he founded the Aldine Press in 1495. He introduced personal or pocket editions of the classics in Latin and Greek that all could own, as well as works by contemporaries Pietro Bembo and Erasmus. His typefaces were all designed and cut by the brilliant Francesco Griffo, a punchcutter who created the first roman type cut from study of classical Roman capitals. Type designs based on work used by Aldus Manutius include Bembo and Poliphilus.
Aldus Manutius introduced inexpensive books in small formats bound in vellum that were read much like our paperbacks. He also commissioned Francesco Griffo (fl. 1499-1518) to cut a cursive type known today as italic. Aldus' press continued to flourish after his death through the diligence of his family, who adhered to his standards of book production of the highest technical and scholarly quality.
The leading publisher and printer of the Venetian High Renaissance, Aldus set up a definite scheme of book design, produced the first italic type, introduced small and handy pocket editions of the classics and applied several innovations in binding technique and design for use on a broad scheme.
Detail from Theodorus Gaza's Grammatike eisagoge, published by Aldus in Venice in 1495.
(Corpus Christi College, Oxford)
Aldus became a publisher and printer when the Pio family, for whom he had worked as a tutor, provided him with money to establish a printery in Venice. He founded the Aldine Press in 1495.
Aldus was at this time almost 45 years old. He devoted himself to publishing the Greek and Roman classics, in editions noted for their scrupulous accuracy; a five-volume set of the works of Aristotle, completed in 1498, is the most famous of his editions. He was especially interested in producing books of small format for scholars at low cost. To this end he designed and cut the first complete font of the Greek alphabet, adding a series of ligatures or tied letters, similar to the conventional signs used by scribes, which represented two to five letters in the width of one character. To save space in Latin texts he had a type designed after the Italian cursive script; it is said to be the script of Petrarch. This was the first italic type used in books (1501).
Books produced by him are called Aldine and bear his mark, which was a dolphin and an anchor. Aldus employed competent scholars as editors, compositors, and proofreaders to insure accuracy in his books. Much of his type was designed by Francesco Griffi, called Francesco da Bologna. The Aldine Press was later managed by other members of his family, including a son, Paulus Manutius (1512-74), and a grandson, Aldus Manutius (1547-97), who was best known for his classical scholarship.
Between 1515 and 1533 the press was managed by his father-in-law, Andrea Asolano, until Aldus' son, Paulus (born 1511) came of age. Aldus' grandson, Aldus the Younger, took over the press upon the death of Paulus (1574) and subsequently closed it in 1590 when he was appointed director of the Vatican Press.
The Aldine Press revolutionized the production, accessibility, and use of the book. Founded by Aldus Manutius (ca 1452-1515), the press introduced a number of innovations that helped shape the development of the modern book, including italic type and the smaller, pocket-sized volume. By putting the Greek and Latin classics in a form that everyone could afford, it revolutionized scholarship: the uniform Aldine texts made comparison and collation universally available, and they were used in schools.
Collectors were interested in the Aldine Press from the beginning; Jean Grolier acquired over two hundred of its publications, often having the books elegantly bound and handsomely illuminated. Since that time, the output of the Aldine Press has been sought after by scholars, book collectors, and librarians. Copies of its books are found in libraries all over the world, where they remain a prized possession and the object of much scholarly research.
Aldus "Dolphin and Anchor" logo
The Aldine Press used
The graceful Anchor and Dolphin design, perhaps the most famous of all printer's marks or colophons, first appeared as an illustration in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, the first edition of which was published in December 1499. Aldus adopted the device as his printer's mark in January 1501 in the second volume of Poetae Christiani veteres, and subsequently used it in at least 19 versions.
The Anchor and Dolphin emblem is called an impresa, a form of pictorial puzzle popular in renaissance Italy. The picture illustrates a motto, in this case a saying of the emperor Augustus that Aldus knew from Suetonius' biography and from the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius: Festina lente, "Make haste slowly." The anchor was symbolic of slowness and the dolphin of speed, an apt representation of the printer's painstaking and relentless style of work.
his printer's device of anchor and dolphin has been copied by numerous printers since
Erasmus (a friend of Manutius) said that the anchor represents the period of deliberation before a work is begun, the dolphin the speed of its completion. (Traditionally, they represented the state and the ruler.)
Aldus Manutius died in Venice in 1515. He is best remembered today as the inventor or paperbacks and italics and as the namesake of the Aldus Corporation, founded in 1984 by Paul Brainard.
Appropriately, Aldus Corporation's main product was PageMaker, which, along with Apple Computer's Macintosh and LaserWriter and Adobe System's PostScript page description language, ushered in the era of desktop publishing and brought quality typesetting and easy to use publishing tools to the masses.
For this reason, Manutius' image is used in the logo of the PAGEMAKR mailing list, a group dedicated to fortering community among desktop publishers worldwide.
Some of the information on this page can be found at:
Aldus and His Dream Book: An Illustrated Essay by Helen Baroliniis a tribute to the life and work Aldus Manutius. It discusses Aldus, his education, his publishing vision, his typographic innovations, and his famous Venetian press. At the same time, this book reproduces all the illustrations, and many of the full pages, from the Aldine press edition of Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, which many consider the most beautiful book printed in the Renaissance. It also includes a bibliography of works on Aldus and the Hypnerotomachia. This edition is certain to appeal to the historian, bibliophile, art historian, designer, and student of the many psychologically rich and emblematic illustrations that have delighted and intrigued generations of readers and scholars.
In Aedibus Aldi : The Legacy of Aldus Manutius and His Press by Paul J. Angerhofer, Mary Ann Addy Maxwell, Robert L. Maxwell. The Aldine Press, synonymous with elegance and quality in 16th-century book production, produced its first publication 500 years ago. Prepared to complement a 1995 exhibit mounted at Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library (which has an extensive collection slated to be comprehensively cataloged over the next several years), this catalog (like the exhibit) is arranged thematically rather than chronologically. Each article includes a reproduction of the printed portion of the title page of the book discussed, a transcription of its colophon, collation statements, and a description of the binding.
The Aldine Press: Catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection of Books by or Relating to the Press in the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles, Incorporating Works Recorded Elsewhere by Los Angeles Library University of California, ed. Nicolas Barker and Sue A. Kaplan. This catalog provides a descriptive bibliography of books in the Ahmanson-Murphy Aldine collection at UCLA, with abbreviated notices of works elsewhere. The Ahmanson-Murphy Collection takes its name from the Ahmanson Foundation, whose financial support permitted the collection to grow, and Franklin D. Murphy, the sixth chancellor of UCLA, who helped and encouraged the growth of the Aldine collection.
Aldus Manutius and the Development of Greek Script and Type in the Fifteenth Century by Nicolas Barker. (Fordham Univ Press, 1992)
In Praise of Aldus Manutius: A Quincentenary Exhibition by H. George Fletcher
New Aldine studies : Documentary Essays on the Life and Work of Aldus Manutius by H. George Fletcher (Out of Print)
Aldus Manutius : Printer and Publisher of Renaissance Venice by Martin Davies (Out of Print)
The World of Aldus Manutius: Business and Scholarship in Renaissance Venice by Martin Lowry (Out of Print)
All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, all contents copyright © 1993
Peter C.S. Adams
Last modified March 16, 2004
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