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     Aldus Manutius (real name Teobaldo Manucci) was born in Sermoneta, 1450. Moving to Mirandola granted him the funds to establish a printed press for the promotion of Greek scholarship by Alberto Pio, the prince of Capri and nephew of a close friend, Giovanni Pico. The result of that funding was Aldine press (1490, Venice).
     Among the innovations at Aldine Press, most important were: the first portable book ever and the invention of the italic type around 1500. Francesco Griffo, the press' punch cutter was among the first to advance the typeface design to more readable fonts rather than just imitations of handwriting. De Aetna by Pietro Bembo (1493) and Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francisco Colona (1499) are considered as the crowning achievements of his.
Especially within Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, the problem of capitals to appear heavier in the text (a problem faced with most early Roman fonts) was corrected for the first time. This was handled by making the lowercase ascenders taller than the capitals. In fact, Aldus was the first printer to break away completely from the ancient patterns of the medieval manuscript. His types-greek, roman, and italic- broke new grounds and domainated European printing for 200 years.
Further on, the Aldine romans and italics are even now available on mechanical composing machines.
     Manutius published many books, mostly ancient Greek authors, mainly works by Dante, Pliny, Erasmus, Valerus Maximus and others.
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Aldus Manutius, Venice, 1499
Francesco Colonna: Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
8 x 12 inches
Aldus Manutius, Venice, 1501
Virgil: Opera
3 x 6 inch
© 2004 Natalia Rifai