AN ABBREVIATED HISTORY OF WRITING

For those interested in the history of lettering over the millenia, the brief overview below covers significant styles and how they evolved.

Ancient3_web

Significant precursers to the Roman alphabet:

Egyptian 3000 BC   

Phoenician 1000 BC  

Greek 600BC  

roman

Of course writing didn’t start with the Roman alphabet, but for all practical purposes, Roman capitals are the beginning of our modern alphabet.Today, much of what we commonly know as ‘Roman writing’ are the large capital letters inscribed in stone. Trajan’s column for Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) is the most famous. Roman capitals were certainly perfected by then.

uncial

Roman had been perfected around 100 AD. Its influence continued to spread around the Mediterranean and into Europe. A number of national lowercase styles were emerging.

Notable among these were Uncials (unchels) used in Ireland around 500 AD.

carolingian

Charlemagne decreed that a standardized lowercase be developed. Carolingian (care-o-lin-je-in) minuscule became the official lettering style of the Holy Roman Empire in 768. It was easy to read and write and was used to rewrite many ancient manuscripts.

gothic type

Gothic or Blackletter was created and used by Germanic peoples around 1200 AD. It continued to be used until shortly after the movable type printing press was invented in 1457.

bookhand

Bookhand or the Humanist style was created in Italy shortly after the introduction of printing (1457 AD). It very closely resembles our modern lowercase.

italic

In the 1600’s Aldus Manutius created the “Italic” typeface. It became a very popular typeface as well as a written script. The Italic script remains fundamental to calligraphy to this day.

copperplate

In the 1700’s a metal quill tip replaced the feather quill. The writing style became known as “Copperplate” because it was the same style that was used in a new type of printing where the letterforms are engraved into copper plates.

brush script

Brush Script lettering; made primarily by sign painters, was widespread by the 1800’s. By the 1920’s it was being used in print advertising. It peaked in creativeness and popularity in the 1960’s. It has since made a comeback.