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Graphion's Online Type Museum
Graphion's Online Type Museum
J. Gutenberg
W. Caxton
A. Manutius
W. Caslon
G. Bodoni
F. Goudy
E. Gill
J. Tschichold
B. Warde’s Crystal Goblet
Typographic glossary

Aldus Manutius

Aldus Manutius was born as Teobaldo Mannuci at Sermoneta in the Papal States. After studying in Rome and Ferrara, he moved to Mirandola in 1482 to stay with his friend, the cabbalist Giovanni Pico. Pico’s nephew Alberto Pio, the prince of Carpi, granted Aldus the money to set up a printing press for the promotion of Greek scholarship. Aldus fulfilled his charge in 1490 by founding the Aldine Press in Venice, assembling a staff of Greek scholars and compositors, and making Greek the official language of his business and household.

His earliest editions include the Hero and Leander of Musaeus, the Galeomyomachia, and the Greek Psalter. Between 1495 and 1509 his published Greek classics include the works of Aristotle, Aristophanes, Thucydides, Sopocles, Herodotus, Xenophon, Euripides, and Demosthenes, as well as an edition of the minor Greek orators and the lesser works of Plutarch. Aldus stopped work during the war of the League of Cambrai against Venice, but after 1513 published works by Plato, Pindar, Hesychius, and Athenaeus.

In addition to these Greek texts, Aldus also published works by Pietro Bembo, Poliziano, Dante, Petrarch, Pliny, Pontanus, Sannazzaro, Quintilian, Valerius Maximus, Erasmus, and many others.

The Aldine Press introduced many innovations into the world of printing. The portable book was first developed there, an invention that proved to be a great service for travelling scholars. The punchcutter for the Aldine Press, former goldsmith Francesco Griffo, was one of the first to advance typeface design beyond simple imitation of hand-drawn characters, reaching the pinnacle of his art in the type for De Ætna by Pietro Bembo (1493), and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499) by Francisco Colonna. His most famous achievement may have been the invention of italic type during the years 1500-1501.

In 1500, Aldus founded the New Academy, a school dedicated to the promotion of Greek studies. The lives of the members of this academy, including Erasmus and Linacre, are detailed in Didot’s biography Alde Manuce.





Hypnerotomachia Poliphili Manutius

A detail of the
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
with woodcut