Typographic Firsts:
Adventures in Early Printing

How were the first fonts made? Who invented italics? When did we work out how to print in color?

John Boardley’s award-winning book, Typographic Firsts, charts the formative early history of the printed or typographic book. Many of the standard features of the printed book were designed by pioneering typographers and printers in the latter half of the fifteenth century. Although Johannes Gutenberg is credited with printing the first books with moveable type, at the height of the Renaissance printers and publishers found innovative solutions to replicate the appearance of manuscript books in print and improve on them.

Typographic Firsts is a fascinating look at a dozen examples of the early influences and innovations that shaped the printed book and established a typographic canon.

From the technological and practical challenges of polychromatic printing or printing music staves and notes, to the challenges of illustrating books with woodcuts, producing books for children and the design of the first fonts, these stories chart the inventions, innovations and accidents that went into creating the printed book, the world's first revolution in mass communication. The book also covers printing in gold, the first female typographers and the logistics of printing maps.

Typographic Firsts shows how a mixture of happenstance and brilliant technological innovation came together to form the typographic and design conventions of the book we are now familiar with.

“To the curious general reader, this is a great book gift. But even scholars of the field are in for a treat and might be inspired by this beautiful book.” — Sharp News

“This is a great book for those studying typographic history and for anyone with a love for print.” — Choice

“Profusely, gloriously illustrated, Typographic Firsts is a scholarly dive deep into the history of type.” — Communication Arts

Amazon UChicago Bodleian

And now available in German translation