Introduction Call for papers Talks Exhibition Typefaces Registration Français

The most important change in typography occurred in the fifteenth century. […] It is unbelievable for me, that in the same century, in a very short period of time, an evolution arose from strict gothic to modern roman type. It always remained a mystery to me. Adrian Frutiger, in Ein Leben, film by Sebastian Rohner, 2011.

The two-day symposium and the exhibition Gotico-Antiqua, Proto-Roman, Hybrid. 15th century types between gothic and roman are based on a current research programme at Atelier national de recherche typographique (ANRT), which investigates the period 1459-1482. The symposium aims to bring together researchers from the fields of typography, palaeography and incunabula studies, with a particular focus on type and letterforms. This relatively understudied period – after Gutenberg and before the consolidation of Jenson’s model – extends from the earliest traces of ‘humanistic’ tendencies to ‘pure’ roman, including many cases of uncertain or experimental design, voluntary hybridisation and proto- or archaic roman. In 1459 in Mainz, Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer printed the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum by Guillaume Durand, using a typeface (now known as Durandus) that looked like no other before. From that point, we can follow a wide variety of developments, partly related to the travels of early printers from the Rhine area to Italy and France. By extension, we are also interested in the Private Press movement initiated by William Morris and Emery Walker at the end of the nineteenth century in Britain, which revived some of those typefaces before they were once more largely forgotten.


Call for papers

We are inviting contributions on the period 1450-1500, in the fields of type history, palaeography and incunabula studies, as well as on the later revival period of the Private Presses and type foundries of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. We are particularly interested in letterforms that stand anywhere between the gothic and roman style (i.e. humanistic tendencies in gothic, traces of gothic in roman, and gothic-roman hybrids), as well as contributions regarding the wider context, and the transition from late-medieval to Renaissance writing and printing. Proposals should be submitted in English, but papers can be given in English or in French. The scientific committee in charge of reviewing proposals and selecting speakers consists of Dr. Lotte Hellinga, Riccardo Olocco, Pr. Marc Smith, Thomas Huot-Marchand and Jérôme Knebusch. The deadline for submission is 8 March 2019 (midnight, Central European Time). Please send your proposal to gotico-antiqua[at] and write “Gotico-Antiqua submission” in the email subject line. Proposals should include a title, abstract (3000 characters/500 words max) and a short CV, preferably grouped in a single PDF file.



The complete programme will be published by mid-March.
Confirmed speakers are:
Riccardo Olocco  University of Reading
Marc Smith  École nationale des chartes, Paris
Oliver Duntze  Typenrepertorium der Wiegendrucke, SBB Berlin
Christopher Burke  University of Reading
Rafael Ribas & Alexis Faudot  ANRT, Nancy
Jérôme Knebusch  ANRT, Nancy



The eponymous exhibition curated by Jérôme Knebusch will be located next door to the symposium. It will present the historical context of 1459-1482 with original incunabula and will showcase unique enlargements of letterforms and complete alphabets, which were specifically re-designed for this event. The exhibition will also mark the end of the research programme, directed since 2016 by Jérôme Knebusch at ANRT. It will open its doors on 25 April 2019 at 18:00, right after the first conference day. The exhibition is visible until 17 May 2019.



In parallel to historical research, Rafael Ribas & Alexis Faudot, current researchers at ANRT, produced fourteen fonts and one set of initial letters. Based on a series of workshop sessions conducted between 2015 and 2018 in art & design schools across France and Germany, with over 150 students, the digital typefaces are the result of a thorough analysis and redesign of the originals. The typefaces will be published as a set of Open Source fonts during the opening of the exhibition. Available for download on this website, the fonts will be usable for commercial use and modification of the files will be allowed under the same licence.

Durandus 118G, Gotico-Antiqua cut in Mainz by Peter Schöffer & Johann Fust for Guillaume Durand’s Rationale Divinorum Officorum in 1459. The book displays two sizes, the smaller 92G for the main text and the bigger and more contrasted 118G used only for the colophon and later for the famous 48-line Bible in 1462. Used until the end of the century. Type design workshop at Hochschule Mainz and Gutenberg-Bibliothek, Mainz, June 2016.

Sweynheim & Pannartz 120R, Proto-Roman cut in Subiaco by Konrad Sweynheim & Arnold Pannartz, for an edition of Donatus in 1465 (no longer preserved) and used until 1467 in four editions in total. Type design workshop with students of ANRT at Biblioteca Statale del Monumento Nazionale di Santa Scolastica, Subiaco, May 2018.

Sweynheim & Pannartz 115R, Proto-Roman cut in Rome by Konrad Sweynheim & Arnold Pannartz, for Cicero’s Epistolae ad familiares in 1467 and used until 1476. Type design workshop with students of the ANRT at Biblioteca Statale del Monumento Nazionale di Santa Scolastica, Subiaco, May 2018.

Spira 110R, Proto-Roman cut in Venice by Johannes de Spira for Cicero’s Epistolae ad familiares in 1469 and used until 1473 by his brother Wendelinus. Type design workshop at ENSBA Lyon and Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, March 2017.

Rot 102R, Proto-Roman cut in Rome by Adam Rot for Dominicus de Sancto Geminiano’s Lecturae super secunda parte sexti Decretalium in 1471. Type design workshop at HBK Saar and Bibliothèque municipale de Metz, Sarrebrücken, December 2016.

R-Bizarre 103R, Proto-Roman cut in Strasbourg by Adolf Rusch for Raban Maur’s De universo between 1467-74 (exact date unknown) and used until 1475. Type design workshop at ESAL Metz and Bibliothèque municipale de Metz, April 2018.

R-Bizarre 100G, Gotico-Antiqua cut in Strasbourg by Adolf Rusch for Balbus’ Catholicon, between 1470-75 (exact date unknown) and used until 1478. Type design workshop at ESAL Metz and Bibliothèque municipale de Metz, April 2018.

Soufflet Vert 106R, Hybrid cut in Paris by the Au Soufflet Vert workshop for Guido de Monte Rochen’s Manipulus curatorum, 1476 and used until 1480. Type design workshop at ISBA Besançon and Bibliothèque d’étude et de conservation de Besançon, May 2018.

Parix 111R, Hybrid cut in Toulouse by Johann Parix for Rodericus Zamorensis’ Speculum vitae humanae, around 1475 (exact date unknown) and used until 1481. Type design workshop at isdaT Toulouse and Bibliothèque municipale de Toulouse, February 2018.

Zainer 96G, Gotico-Antiqua cut in Ulm by Johann Zainer for Jacques de Voragine’s Legenda aurea not after 1477 and used until 1485. Type design workshop at Hochschule Aachen and Stadtbibliothek Aachen, October 2017.

Zainer Initials, richly decorated gothic initials of 45 mm height, cut in Ulm by Johann Zainer for the Spiritual Interpretations of the Life of Jesus Christ around 1478. Used until 1480. Type design workshop at Hochschule Aachen and Stadtbibliothek Aachen, October 2017.

Ptolemy, Hybrid designed in Chelsea by St John Hornby, Sidney Cockerell and Emery Walker, cut in 18 pt by Edward Prince for Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Published by the Ashendene Press in 1927. The type used until 1935 is a revival of Lienhart Holl’s cut for Ptolemaeus’ Cosmographia printed in 1482 in Ulm. Type design workshop at HEAR Mulhouse, March 2015.

Jessen, Hybrid designed and cut in two sizes without preliminary drawings in Offenbach am Main by Rudolf Koch for The Four Gospels. Printed at the Klingspor press in 1926 and published by Koch himself. Formerly named Bibel-Gotisch, the type was released as Jessen by the Klingspor foundry in 1930. Type design workshop at ESAD •Valence, April 2016.

Hamlet (also named Kessler-Blackletter), Hybrid designed by Edward Johnston, cut in three sizes (10, 12 and 18 pt) by Edward Prince for William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Published by Harry Kessler’s Cranach Press in Weimar in 1929. The type is based on the Durandus for the lowercases, and Sweynheim & Pannartz’ Subiaco type for the capitals. The type was used for trials in other books, none of which were completed. Type design workshop at Bauhaus Universität Weimar and Anna Amalia Bibliothek Weimar, January 2018.



Registration will be open soon.


Atelier national de recherche typographique
École nationale supérieure d’art et de design de Nancy
Campus ARTEM, Amphithéâtre ENSAD, Nancy
Place Cartier Bresson BP 13129
54000 Nancy


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Type Design
Jérôme Knebusch

Web Design
Thomas Bouville