History of printing types

In November and December 2023 John A. Lane will repeat his series of lectures about the history of printing types. The course will be taught in the classroom at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp, but international students can participate remotely via Zoom, synchronously (in real time).

These lectures discuss the influence of manuscript and engraved letterforms on the form of printing types from the introduction of European movable type to the digital era, and the evolution of typographic letterforms.

They centre on the Latin alphabet in its most important forms: gothic and especially roman and italic, including sans-serif, but touch on non-Latin types. They present the types in the historical context of the manufacturing technology, economic and cultural factors, politics and historical artistic styles (renaissance, baroque, neoclassical, modernist, etc.).

They cover the work of the most important punchcutters and type designers from the earliest roman types (Nicholas Jenson, Francesco Griffo) to the late 20th century (Hermann Zapf, Adrian Frutiger).

We encourage students to take an active role by asking questions, comparing and discussing the forms of different types in class and bringing examples that interest them. The exact content therefore depends on the students.


About the lecturer John A. Lane

  • BS cum laude in physics at Yale University
  • Freelance book and printing historian specializing in the history of printing types, punchcutters and typefounders
  • already taught at home and abroad
  • co-author of the standard work ‘Dutch Typefounders’ Specimens’
  • author of ‘Early Type Specimens at the Plantin-Moretus Museum’ (2004)
  • author of ‘The Diaspora of Armenian Printing 1512-2012’
original 16th-century mould, Museum Plantin-Moretus

Lecturer: John A. Lane

Enrolment fee: €380
Anyone who graduated from a college or university less than a year ago is eligible for a 20% reduction on the registration fee.
This also applies to students and graduates of the Plantin Institute of Typography.

Dates & Times:
Four Saturday afternoons: 18 November, 25 November, 2 December and 9 December 2023, each time from 1.50 p.m. to 4.40 p.m. Central European Time

Location: Local students may attend the lessons in our classroom at the Museum Plantin-Moretus, Vrijdagmarkt 22, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium.
People who are not able to travel to Antwerp may attend via Zoom.

Enrol by sending an email to plantin.instituut@antwerpen.be