Written by some of the foremost typographic and book history scholars in the world such as Hermann Zapf, Matthew Carter, Nicolas Barker and Nicolaos Panayotakis, these essays bring to life the rich history and development of the Greek letterform: its role in the history of the printed word and civilization, the urgent need for quality modern fonts and the challenges faced by the current and future realm of Greek type design.
The movement of Western knowledge is inextricably linked with the distribution of texts and printing’s development. Before moveable types, many of the manuscripts studied by scholars were written in the Greek language. Gutenberg’s invention of moveable Latin type characters changed the process of transmitting these texts forever.
Though Greek type designers in Northern Italy introduced Greek types soon after Gutenberg’s invention, Greek type began to suffer as Western printing and typecasting technologies developed and spread. The machines used in the trade could not accommodate both Latin and Greek alphabets. Non-Greek typeface designers such as Garamont, Granjon, Haultin, Bodoni, Didot and the British Pleiade also indelibly left their mark on Greek type. Today, the wide use of computer Latin fonts, hundreds of which are available for every typographical need and taste, aggravates the problem of a limited number of good traditional Greek fonts. Some of these fonts have become obsolete, while many others are poorly designed. It is now extremely difficult to find a wide variety of aesthetically-pleasing compositions of fonts for printing Latin-Greek texts.
These challenges inspired the Greek Font Society, formed in 1992, to promote and design quality Greek fonts for printing and use on the computer screen. These issues also spurred the Society to gather some of the most respected professionals, designers and scholars at the first International Symposium on the Evolution of the Greek Alphabet. Noted figures, including Hermann Zapf, Matthew Carter, Nicolas Barker and Nicolaos Panayotakis, from the fields of typography, history, book history, art, technology and policy in Greece, Europe and America came to the Symposium to present papers on these topics, now contained in GREEK LETTERS, filled with profuse illustrations and typeface specimens.
This work not only addresses the Hellenist and classics scholar, but also the typographer, historian, graphic designer, printer, publisher and computer specialist.