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Re: VMs: MS408 Character Development

Hi Maurizio,

At 13:31 04/07/2005 +0200, Maurizio Gavioli wrote:
Printing typeface design is not a semi-automatic activity as handwriting is: it is very pondered, carefully planned beforehand and has to with drawing much more than with writing.

Didn't the Quattrocento history of using pure geometric forms (like lines & circular arcs) to construct alphabet shapes stem from Leon Battista Alberti: but even if earlier than Alberti, surely it sprung from a similar humanist / neo-classicist mindset? Printing just happened to be arriving at the same (or a little later) time, IIRC?

It might apply to the _exempla_, yet to determine, that the VM script author was familiar with and had in mind while devising his script, particularly if we assume that, as it is the case in most script creations, the script is a re-cast, with different glyphs and a few oddities, of the writing system (and maybe of the linguistic system too!) to which the author has been mainly exposed.

Given the multiple influences apparent within the VMs' alphabet, perhaps "of the writing systems" might be more accurate. There's definitely room for someone to try to deconstruct the individual letter forms along the lines you suggest: a forensic analysis of the alphabet, if you like.

On one hand, we may safely assume that the VM script author was familiar with the Latin abbreviation system (as he was familiar with the _littera moderna_ stroke assimilation system). This is a point in favour of the theory that those sings in the VMS are indeed abbreviations.

Or similarly, that these Latin abbreviations were also things within the scribal repertoire. I think it's probably not so far from the truth to see the VMs' alphabet as appropriated rather than imagined: after all, there was a lot of it to write, so making it comfortable for the scribe(s) could well have been a major part of the design spec. :-)

On the other hand, many of those abbreviation-like signs, like for instance EVA 'g' or EVA 'm' (but also 'r', 's' or 'u'), are very obvious 'pen turns' which may come quite spontaneously to anybody with the penmanship of a late Middle Age scholar. This might mean that those signs do not have the same meaning (or at least a similar function) they had in the 'normal writing', but that they are simply common, or well-practiced, graphic material borrowed into the script, like many 'full characters' of the script.

Perhaps the most interesting page in this regard is f105v: I get the feeling from this page that the writer was finally starting to enjoy using the alphabet/script - the writing feels fluid to me here, with generally more subtle flourishes than elsewhere, and with a letter size comfortably intermediate (I believe?) between Herbal A and Herbal B, which are respectively too big and too small.


Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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