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Anglo-Saxon type

The Oxford Companion to the Book

Anglo-Saxon type 

The type’s history exemplifies the political aspect of *letterforms. The original impetus for Anglo-Saxon type came as part of M. *Parker’s campaign to establish an English Church on the basis of ecclesiastical and theological precedents, which he wanted to publish using a type that authoritatively reflected their origins. The first book printed in the type designed for him was A Testimonie of Antiquitie (J. *Day, c.1566). Later, when James I and Charles I published Anglo-Saxon documents to prove their right to rule, they also employed Anglo-Saxon type—principally for quotations—to help establish the antiquity and authority of their claims. Somewhat later, scholars of linguistics and literature needed Anglo-Saxon type for whole texts in Old English, such as the *Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, *Beowulf, *grammars, and *dictionaries. The type was usually a hybrid, combining an essentially *roman alphabet with the necessary additional special *sorts for Anglo-Saxon characters and *abbreviations. There were three sets of 16th-century Anglo-Saxon types and another four in the 17th century; interest continued in succeeding centuries, especially in the scholarly community.

Margaret M. Smith


R. W. Clement, ‘The Beginnings of Printing in Anglo-Saxon, 1565–1630’, PBSA 91 (1997), 192–244Find this resource:

    P. J. Lucas, ‘Parker, Lambarde, and the Provision of Special Sorts for Printing Anglo-Saxon in the Sixteenth Century’, JPHS 28 (1999), 41–69Find this resource:

      — ‘From Politics to Practicalities: Printing Anglo-Saxon in the Context of Seventeenth-Century Scholarship’, Library, 7/4 (2003), 28–48Find this resource:

        T. B. Reed, History of the Old English Letter Foundries, 2e, ed. A. F. Johnson (1952)Find this resource: