Leonardo da Vinci and printing.

From: William Overington (WOverington@ngo.globalnet.co.uk)
Date: Fri Feb 21 2003 - 07:27:10 EST

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    I recently enjoyed watching a two-part television programme entitled
    "Leonardo's Dream Machines" on Channel 4, which is a television channel in
    England. Television programmes often get shown around the world and I can
    certainly recommend this one if you get the chance to watch it on a
    television channel where you live.

    As I am interested in typography I noticed the typeface which was used for
    the captions and the end credits. The font turns out to be Da Vinci forward
    and can be viewed at the following website. It is based on the handwriting
    of Leonardo da Vinci.


    In addition, it can be tried out on-line at the typecaster facility which is
    at the following web address.


    I tried out various phrases and indeed made a few Print Screen copies of the
    texts which I produced.

    Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 in Vinci, a village near Florence, Italy.

    In 1456 the first printed book was published, in Mainz, a city in what is
    now Germany.

    I began to wonder how Leonardo da Vinci relates to the invention which took
    place at about the time he was born, and how that compares and contrasts
    with how people today relate to the computer, the internet and the web.

    Leonardo da Vinci could read and write. Searching the web earlier today the
    only reference to Leonardo da Vinci and printing that I could find was a
    short note that he had made some prints of plant leaves.

    Does anyone happen to know if Leonardo da Vinci read or owned printed books
    please? Was he involved in printing technology or letter design for fonts
    or for plaques or stone engraving? Are there any individual copies of books
    surviving today for which there is provenance that Leonardo da Vinci ever
    sat reading it, even by circumstantial evidence such as for example perhaps
    a reference to reading some book while in the service of someone and that
    person's collection of books having survived with provenance to the present

    I find it quite fascinating that Leonardo da Vinci lived in Europe at the
    same time as when printing with movable type developed in Europe and wonder
    whether when he first became aware of printed books whether they were an
    amazing new thing to him or just came along as an everyday part of how
    things were as but one of the things he found out about as he grew up.

    By the way, if you do have a look at the typecaster facility at the website
    mentioned above, various fonts may be tried. I tried various fonts and
    particularly like the Morris Troy font. I found that characters such as e
    acute and A umlaut are available in this font, using Alt 130 and Alt 142
    respectively when keying text into the typecaster window. However, it is
    not clear to me as to how those characters are stored in the font itself,
    that is whether they use Unicode layout or an older layout.

    William Overington

    21 February 2003

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