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A: Altstadt, Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Fust and Schöffer Publish the First Book Set in Fere-Humanistica or Gotico-Antiqua Types

The first page of Fust & Schöffer

The first page of Fust & Schöffer's Durandus includes the 13-line illuminated letter printed in red and blue. The red ink annotations in the margins were added by a contemporary reader. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

On October 6, 1459 printers Fust and Schöffer of Mainz completed their edition of Rationale divinorum officiorum by Guillelmus Duranti (Durandus)— a work explaining the meaning of the various services of the Catholic church and the ceremonies used in them. The folio volume has one large (thirteen-line) capital letter, and two smaller capitals printed in two colors— red and dull blue-gray, and a number of small capitals mostly printed in red, though some were omitted by the printer and put in by hand. All surviving copies are printed on vellum except for one on paper preserved at Munich.

The 1459 Durandus was the first book printed in type based on rounded script— less formal than the Gothic Textura or Textualis bookhand, on which Gutenberg and Schöffer based their first types.

"The type cut by Peter Schoeffer on the model of this hand is rounder and more open that Textura, the ascenders are more pronounced and give more white on the page, 'there is a greater differentiation of letters and therefore inscribed legibility'. The letter 'shares some characteristics of the Renaissance and others of the Middle Ages. Hence it has been called the Fere-humanistica or Gotico-antiqua. . . .The hand is gothic but with considerable roman tendencies' (A.F. Johnson Type Designs, 1959.) It was a letter much copied in Germany; less so outside. It was taken as a pattern by William Morris for his Troy and Chaucer types" (Berry & Poole, Annals of Printing [1966] 14).

ISTC  No.: id00403000. In November 2013 a digital facsimile was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link.

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