Alphabetum Romanum by Felice Feliciano

Alphabetum RomanumFeliciano, Felice. Alphabetum Romanum, The Letterforms of Felice Feliciano.  Vernon: Greenboathouse Press, 2010.

Completed: 27 November 2010

This is one of those books that is of interest to printers and typographers.  For the rest of us, type, for the most part, disappears into the background. This book reproduces the drawings of Felice Feliciano.  Feliciano’s book was an instruction manual on how to draw Roman capital letters.    Jason Dewinetz, proprietor of Greenboathouse Press, had been working on this project for a few years.   In his words:

“I first encountered the drawings in a facsimile edition, beautifully produced by the Officina Bodoni (exactly 500 years after the original was created), at a book exhibit at the Buffalo Public Library in 2008. The letterforms simply grabbed me by the throat and I’ve been unable to catch my breath ever since. As I was, at the time, unable to obtain a copy of the 1960 edition (although I’ve found one since), I decided simply to publish an edition, if for no other reason than that I would then have a copy myself. From that point began a 2-year process of collecting materials on Feliciano and his alphabet, as well as redrawing his letters from scratch.”

If you like this sort of thing, and I do, it is a spectacular book.  Dewinetz does his usual excellent job of letterpress printing the text of the introduction and afterward.  The reproduction of the Feliciano letterforms is accomplished through the use of polymer plates.  The use of polymer permitted Dewinetz to impart a sense of calligraphy to the letterforms.  They are printed but they lack the hard, crisp line of a metal type.  This is not a criticism on my part. The polymer plate impressions impart a sense of hand drawn letters.  The corner lines do not meet perfectly.  The thickness of a line is not consist over the length of that line.  There is a lightness to the lines that might not otherwise be there.  As the letterforms are letterpress printed they also have that third dimension that letterpress imparts.  These are beautiful letters, reproduced beautifully in a well constructed book.

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