At 10:47 AM 09.11.03 +0100, Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren wrote:
>when Gutenberg typeset his Bible, he used types of various widhts in
>order to achive right-justification. they were of the same height, but
>their widths varied, so that when he set a line, he experimented with
>types of various widths until the line had the right lengths.
Not only that, but many of his characters had no sidebearing at one
side so that they would join another sort to make an "on-the-fly
ligature" (not to mention the plethora of real ligatures).
>this was very tedious and time-consuming. if he had cut all of the type
>(of the same height, obviously) in the same width, and just varied the
>spacing, the job would be much less time-consuming.
>mechanical typesetting machines came somewhat later and made much of
>this easier. and today we have gone full circle with digital type that
"Somewhat later" means 450 years.
(Gutenberg = 1440s, mech. composition = 1890s.)
>however, there was, as I recall, a time when typestters still hadn't
>gotten to the point where they realized that varying spacing between
>words (and letters for that matter) was much more time-economical than
>juggling type widths. I would like to know when that time was.
Gutenberg was working in the 'textura' blackletter style and trying to
emulate exactly what the scribes did. I'm not sure about this particular
tradition, but I think we can be reasonably secure that with the Venetians
working in the Roman style just a few decades later this sort of device
had been abandoned for good. ("Alors que le gothique, en raison des formes
mêmes des lettres, veut un espacement uniformément serré, le romain demande
un espacement variable." - Nicolas Barker, "Les caractères typographiques",
in _La chose imprimée_, Paris, 1977.)