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Feature: Type specimens

Gavin Lucas

Type specimens have been published since the invention of moveable type, with the earliest well-known example being Antwerp printer Christopher Plantin’s 1567 Index Sive Specimen Characterum. The purpose of such a document in the 16th century was the same then as it is now: to showcase a typeface or typefaces in the various alphabets, styles and sizes available. A specimen functions as a catalogue, a printed sales pitch, designed to say ‘this is what we’ve got and this is how it can be used’

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