John A. Lane
Printing Types in the
Dutch Golden Age:
Nicolaes Briot,
Christoffel van Dijck
& Nicolaus Kis

The sixth annual Justin Howes memorial lecture

  • Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 7pm
  • In the Bridewell Hall, St Bride Foundation
  • Admission is free but by pre-booked ticket only

The mainstream in the evolution of printing types, like many cultural developments, shifted from France to the southern Low Countries in the second half of the sixteenth century, Holland in the seventeenth and England & Scotland in the eighteenth. Types from sixteenth-century France and the Low Countries and from most of the eighteenth-century British foundries have been well catalogued, including the work of great punchcutters like Garamont, Granjon, Van den Keere and Caslon. But Nicolaes Briot – possibly the most important figure in the Dutch ‘golden age’ – remains almost unknown, the types of the more famous Christoffel van Dijck are best known from specimens issued by his successors, and those of Nicolaus Kis from recuttings made in the 1920s from a few surviving sets of matrices (issued under the name Janson). Recently discovered specimens issued by seventeenth-century Dutch typefounders help paint a better picture of the seminal work of these and other masters, and research in archives and libraries fills many of the remaining gaps. In an illustrated lecture, John Lane shows types by these Dutch masters and suggests that Briot’s roman types served as the principal models for Van Dijck, Kis and Caslon.

John A. Lane is a freelance historian of printing types, typefounding and type specimens, also specializing in analytical bibliography, paper & watermarks and archival research. He teaches at Amsterdam University’s summer school and the Plantin Genootschap in Antwerp, has worked for antiquarian book dealers and taught typography at the University of Reading. He received a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the Printing Historical Society, Bibliographical Society of America and American Printing History Association. His many books and articles discuss the history of printing types from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century.

Nicolaes Briot’s Diamant (4.5 point) textura. Close to original size Nicolaes Briot’s Diamant (4.5 point) textura. Enlarged

Nicolaes Briot’s Diamant (4.5 point!) textura, in a 1615 Dutch Bible (Amsterdam University Library: 1204 H 19, reproduced with permission). The numbers on the scale are in mm. Inset: shown at close to original size of 13mm high by 27mm wide

Christoffel van Dijck’s Klein Kanon (28 point) roman of ca. 1654

Christoffel van Dijck’s Klein Kanon (28 point) roman of ca. 1654, here in a Spanish Jewish Bible, Amsterdam, 1655/56? (Amsterdam University Library: Ros. 3819 A 35, reproduced with permission)

Nicolaus Kis’ Text (17 point) italic of ca. 1689

Nicolaus Kis’s Text (17 point) italic of ca. 1689, here in Critici Sacri, Amsterdam, 1698 (Amsterdam University Library: KF 61 1563-1571, reproduced with permission)

Printing and beyond