Statistics of Incunabula Types

Let us look at the type founts included in K. Haebler's Typenrepertorium der Wiegendrucke, from a statistical viewpoint. The type founts included in the Typenrepertorium, of which printer's names are identified in the Incunabula Short-Title Catalogue (ISTC), total approximately 4,600. The punches and matrices used by one printer may have been transferred to another, and therefore, this total number may include type founts counted multiple times. However, we can say roughly that in the age of incunabula, about 1,100 printers used 4,600 type founts to print 27,000 titles of books and documents.

Gothic type accounts for 79% of all types used, while Roman types represents around 19%. Besides these two major founts, Greek, Hebrew and Cyrillic (Glagolitic) types were created, but the total number of types used for these letters is less than 100. Some 1,200 Gothic type founts were used in both Italy and Germany, and some 700 Gothic type founts in France. Most of Roman types were used by Italian printers, while only a small number of German, French and Spanish printers used Roman type. Printers in England and the Netherlands seldom or never used Roman type.

Greek type
Hebrew type

A look at the size of the type indicates that Gothic type founts show a variety in sizes of which the height for 20 lines ranges from 40 mm to 420 mm. In particular, the Gothic type 90-99 mm in height for 20 lines was used most extensively, and that of 70-99 mm in height for 20 lines accounts for 45% of the total. On the other hand, the size of Roman type fonts is concentrated in a narrow range from 60 mm to 140 mm in height. Most widely used were those of 110-119 mm in height for 20 lines. Compared with Gothic type, larger type founts were used for the Roman letters.

Gothic type varied in size and design, characterized by the locality where it was used. In this section, let us look at the relationships among the patterns of the letter "M" as classified by K. Häbler, their sizes and the areas where they were widely used. M49 (M49) is the pattern of "M" that was the most widely used of all Gothic type founts; 390 Gothic type founts, nearly 10% of the total, are classified as M49. This pattern was used for small type (with a 20-line height of 70-79 mm) and was widely used by Italian, German and French printers. The second frequently used type fount was M88 (M88), which was used for slightly larger type (with a 20-line height of 90-99 mm), mainly among the Italian printers. These two are followed by M99, M91 and M32 in order. In particular, M32 (M32) was used for the larger type (with a 20-line height of 110-119 mm) and was widely used among the French printers. On the other hand, M91 (M91) was used extensively by Italian printers. M60 (M60) was used for even larger type (with a 20-line height of 180-189 mm), chiefly among German and French printers.

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