| February 1, 2011 1:57 am

Venice City Crest - 1895

The other day, while picking through my typography RSS folder, I stumbled across a marvelous link. Originally shared by Johno of “I love typography”, it pointed toward a late 18th century title called “Early Venetian Printing.”

The book is a collection of illustrated pages from 14th and 15th century works printed in Venice. They cover all of the masters in addition to a few individuals I hadn’t ever heard of. It shows examples of their work and discusses  the principles that early typesetters followed. Additionally there are printers’ marks, water-marks, examples of music printing, and alphabets upon alphabets of initials.  It concludes with a section on the art of Venetian binding.

The book is a beautiful volume, and one that I desperately would love to have in my own personal library. Unfortunately, that will never happen. Early Venetian Printing is an extremely rare book that’s been out of print for decades.

Luckily, though, you can download the entire text (with all of the illustrations) from www.archive.org in PDF, EPUB, or Kindle formats. You can also browse the whole text online.

Here are a few of the images, just to whet your appetite. The full text can be found here.

Examples of Venice Book Design, 15th CenturyExamples of Venice Page Design and Illustration

Page Design, Venice 15th CenturyPage Design, Venice 15th Century

Full Page Engraving, 15th Century

Wood Cuts and Page Decorations, Late 15th CenturyPage Design and Initials, Late 15th Century

Venetian Biblical Engravings, Late 15th Century

Venetian Typography, Early 16th Century

The Winds

Interior Engravings and Initials

Title Page Engraving, With Decorative Border

Music Page Engraving from Venetian Hymnal


3 Responses to “The Art of Venetian Printing”

Jennifer King wrote a comment on December 21, 2011

THANKS ROB! Your generous sharing of Venetian images especially the windhead putti from de Barbari’s map has helped and inspired me enormously with a Dedication to Venice.
Best wishes and keep up the good work!

Rob Oakes wrote a comment on December 23, 2011

Hi Jennifer,

I’m glad that you enjoyed the pictures. I was ecstatic when I came across them. There is so much artistry and craft in the early printers work and it’s not something that we always see today.



JENNIFER KING wrote a comment on April 7, 2013

Dear Rob,
Thanks again for your blog! Here is a bit of interesting info and links for this marvelous book – if you do what I did, and download the pages you want, and have them printed onto handmade laid paper, they will be yours to drool over: Ferdinando Ongania in Early Venetian Printing Illustrated, a grand collection of early print decorations, ornamental capitals, engraved illustrations and printers’ emblems. Ongania’s book omits the text of the original with over 230 pages of graphics. Download it at this link and ENJOY:
https://ia600304.us.archive.org early venetian printing

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