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Dr Riccardo Olocco


Areas of interest

My areas of interest are in the history of letterforms and type.

During my doctoral research (2015–2019) I developed a method of analysing printed type that I have successfully applied to different time periods. This is based on photographic enlargements of printed type, on image editing, on detailed analysis of letterforms, and on comparisons of printers’ letterforms made by means of overlaying images. I am particularly interested in type of the incunabula period: my PhD thesis was on Venetian romans (where the roman types we still used today were initially developed) and I am also studying early German type, both textura and gotico-antiqua.

My research has extended to later periods: I have investigated English 18th-century type (comparing Caslon type with its imitation produced by the Fry foundry), Giambattista Bodoni’s types (including investigations into his original punches and matrices held at the Biblioteca Palatina, Parma), and Italian 20th-century typefaces, notably those produced by the Nebiolo foundry, Turin.

Academic qualifications

PhD, University of Reading (2019)
A new method of analysing printed type: the case of 15th-century Venetian romans’

MA in Typeface design, University of Reading (2014)

Selected publications

‘Christophorus Valdarfers’s roman types and their imitations’
Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 96 (2021), pp. 114–63

Ratdolt’s Index characterum the earliest known type specimen
(Poem Pamphlet, 2020)

‘The outstanding spread of the Scotus Roman in Italy and elsewhere’
La Bibliofilia 122 (2020), pp. 131–47

‘Venice in the early 1470s: the inception of roman type and some odd alternatives’
in Jérôme Knebusch (ed.), Gotico-Antiqua, proto-roman, hybrid, 15th-century types between gothic and roman. (Poem, Atelier National de Recherche Typographique (ANRT), 2020)

‘A new method of analysing printed type’
Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 31 (2019), pp. 191–222

‘The Manzolus roman analysed’
Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 31 (2019), pp. 223–40

A new method of analysing printed type: the case of 15th-century Venetian romans’
PhD thesis, University of Reading (2019)

‘The Jenson roman: its mutations and spread in fifteenth-century Italy’
Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 29 (2018), pp. 124–56

‘The archival evidence of type-making in 15th-century Italy’
La Bibliofilia (2017), pp. 33–79

‘I romani di Francesco Griffo’
Bibliologia, 7 (2012), pp. 33–56

‘Un carattere oltre la balcanizzazione’
Progetto Grafico, 22 (2012), pp. 108–13.

Since 2017, I have been editor of a group of articles published on Medium, written by myself and others. Here is a list of the articles I have written:

Notes on the rotunda types of the Renaissance

Early ‘non-Jensonian’ Venetian romans

The influence of Jenson on the design of romans

The Venetian origins of roman type

The inner consistency of Gerard Unger

Nicolas Jenson and the success of his roman type

Novarese and Butti, a story to be (re)written (with Alessandro Colizzi)

Presentations (recent)

‘The trade in type in Venice in the early decades of printing’
Bodleian library, Oxford, Seminar in the History of the Book, 11 February 2022

‘Nicolas Jenson and the establishment of roman type in 15th-century Venice’
Herb Lubalin Lecture, Cooper Union, NYC, 9 November 2020 (webinar)

‘Type imitations in Venice and London’
The Bibliographical Society, London, 17 December 2019

‘Historical sources for typeface design’
Typographische Gesellschaft Austria, Vienna, 27 November 2019

‘Venice in the early 1470s: the inception of roman type and some odd alternatives’
Gotico-Antiqua symposium, Nancy, 25 April 2019

‘The historical sources of contemporary type design’
Wrocław Type Forum, 7 December 2018

‘The success of Jenson’s roman type’
ATypI conference, Antwerp, 14 September 2018

‘Micro analysis of printed marks of type: Nicolas Jenson’s roman’
Kerning conference. Faenza, 8 June 2018


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