Simon de Colines (1480-1546) and his contributions to the modernization of book design was underappreciated—until master typographer and historian Kay Amert conducted research on the Parisian printer who experimented with dynamic page layouts and pioneered the use of italic types in France during the Renaissance.
Although Amert died in 2008 and left her published and unpublished writings unfinished, Robert Bringhurst has brought them all together in The Scythe and the Rabbit: Simon de Colines and the Culture of the Book in Renaissance Paris, published by Cary Graphic Arts Press at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Bringhurst says: “Here in the slippery new terrain of the digital age, all the world’s alphabets are simultaneously engaged in another dangerous moult—yet the fortunate among us are still living in a typographic landscape that was shaped in part by Colines.”
Most printers look at text like a string of letters, but Colines printed authors and texts that were central to his idea of civilizations—focusing on the works of Aristotle, Sophocles, Cicero, Horace, Ovid, Virgil, Hippocrates and Euclid.
“Reading his books these five centuries later,” says Bringhurst, “is a serious education not in typography alone but in philosophy, poetry, astronomy, medicine, law and mathematics.”
The book includes a liberal sprinkling of illustrations and samples of typefaces that reflect the golden age of French typography, a period in which many developments occurred in both typography and printing.
The Scythe and the Rabbit: Simon de Colines and the Culture of the Book in Renaissance Paris is available in softcover for $39.99. To order, call 585-475-6766, or go to http://ritpress.rit.edu.
Note: RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press and RIT Press are co-imprints of a scholarly publishing enterprise at Rochester Institute of Technology. As of 2013, the imprints will be merged into RIT Press in order to represent most effectively its mission to publish scholarship in a broad area of disciplines.