9.575 skiamorphs

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Sun, 25 Feb 1996 22:50:27 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 575.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Anton Sherwood <dasher@netcom.com> (3)
Subject: skiamorphs

[2] From: Merry Maisel <maisel@SDSC.EDU> (24)
Subject: Re: skiamorphs

[These two plucked from DARWIN-L, with thanks. --WM]

Date: Thu, 22 Feb 1996 21:21:18 -0800
From: Anton Sherwood <dasher@netcom.com>
Subject: skiamorphs

A typographic skiamorph: the thread linking the tops of `ct' and `st'
in some fonts. I suppose it represents a handwritten feature, but
ask myself why the pen would be there...

Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\* DASher@netcom.com

Date: Fri, 23 Feb 1996 00:46:04 -0800 (PST)
From: Merry Maisel <maisel@SDSC.EDU>
Subject: Re: skiamorphs

Anton Sherwood asks why st and ct are linked by a "thread"
in older typography. The "thread" and other swashes (fancy
capital letters with flourishes) derive from the Chancery
Italic hand, invented by the head scribe in the Pope's
Chancery in the sixteenth century, one Ludovico degli Arrighi,
I b'lieve--a method of formal writing that was much swifter
than the Gothic script. The attempt made throughout the
history of type to reproduce swashes and flourishes no
doubt reflects upon the once-powerful and awe-inspiring
character of anything in writing, especially Papal proclamations.
My Macintosh harbors such a font, and the fancier typesetting
computer programs permit a wide range of what were once
hand operations in the foundry: kerning, for example, which
is being able to write two characters, e.g., "AW," even with
very wedge-shaped letters, and yet put them close together,
so the W is in the space that would be occupied by the
supporting block of the A. In the type foundry, a person has
to chisel out the two blocks so the two letters can be put
closer together. In the computer, the unoccupied pixels can
be assorted ad lib. Modern graphic practice includes the
swashy stuff in the eclectic bin, and clever designers will
use such fonts to give words an authority they might not
otherwise have.

Merry Maisel