Type Anatomy: Isabella Troiani

“Of the Friendship of Amis and Amile” by William Morris, published by Kelmscott Press 1894.

The book “Of the Friendship of Amis and Amile” was one of the first books in the MASC that caught my attention. The book was published by Kelmscott Press, which is a private press created by William Morris in the 1800s. The press has a very specific/trademark type of design, with intricate artwork intertwined with lettering. Looking at images of the pages, one can see the Italian Renaissance inspiration. The book seems more decorative than anything else, seemingly untouched with designs that do nothing necessarily to help readers understand the words. This pristine condition might also be due to the fact that this is a religious text, and therefore seen as more worthy of respect.

The typeface itself is very humanist/organic, with intricate designs of flowers, leaves, and

“Of the Friendship of Amis and Amile” by William Morris, published by Kelmscott Press 1894.

vines. One of the interesting things I noted was that each paragraph starts with an image of black leaf, rather than an indent. Some sentences begin with large, complex letters, with designs similar to the cover page. Other beginning letters are similar but smaller, and it leaves the reader wondering why. Perhaps they signify a new chapter. The first sentence that is coupled with that larger letter is all capitalized. They are all upright. The typeface also has a lot of curves, decorative serifs, and contrast between thin and thick portions. You can see the inspiration from quill and paper hand writing, despite the fact that this was most likely printed on wood. Most of the letters have the same x-height and baseline, with a few ascenders and descenders for capital letters and lowercase letters, like f, p, and g. Even the capital P has a descender, which is unusual. This book represents the connection between art and typeface, even after hand writing was no longer used in published books.


About isabellatroiani

A 20 year-old student who loves all things food, art, and travel.
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