Alter Littera - New Letters of Old

The Oldtype "Psalterium" Font

Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer - Mainz, 1457

Current Version: ALOT Psalterium 2.0 (November 2012)

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Basic Commercial Licenses available at MyFonts

A clean, smooth adaptation of the magnificent gothic types used by Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer in their famous Mainz Psalter (Psalterium Moguntinum) of 1457, also used in their Canon of the Mass (Canon Missae) of 1458, and in their Benedictine Psalter (Psalterium Benedictinum) of 1459. [Although these works were published after Gutenberg's break with Fust, it is generally agreed that Gutenberg was working along with Fust and Schöffer on the Mainz Psalter while the 42-line Bible was still being printed.] In addition to the usual standard characters for typesetting modern texts, the font includes a comprehensive set of special characters, uncial initials (adapted from both the Mainz Psalter and early sixteenth-century Dutch types by Henric Pieterszoon), alternates and ligatures, plus Opentype features, that can be used for typesetting (almost) exactly as in the Mainz Psalter and later incunabula. The main historical sources used during the font design process were high-resolution scans from the copy of the Mainz Psalter preserved at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna (the only copy whose colophon includes the famous printer's mark of Fust and Schöffer). Other sources were as follows: Masson, I. (1954), The Mainz Psalters and Canon Missae, 1457-59, London: Printed for the Bibliographical Society; Kapr, A. (1996), Johann Gutenberg - The Man and his Invention, Aldershot: Scolar Press (ch. 8); Füssel, S. (2005), Gutenberg and the impact of printing, Burlington: Ashgate (ch. 1); and Man, J. (2009), The Gutenberg Revolution, London: Bantam (ch. 8).

Updates in Version 2.0 include new figures and currency symbols, fixed kerning for pairs with second element starting with an 'a', and some ligature refinements.

Font Psalterium

Re-creation of the types used in the Mainz Psalter

Font Psalterium

Page re-creation from the Mainz Psalter (fol.18 recto)

Font Psalterium

Page re-creation from the Mainz Psalter (fol.44 recto)

Font Psalterium

Page re-creation from the Mainz Psalter (fol.143 recto)

Font Psalterium

Re-creation of the colophon to the Mainz Psalter (fol.175 verso)

Selected high-resolution font sheets available for purchase at the Digital Press


Several uncial initials in the Oldtype "Psalterium" Font have been derived from corresponding characters in the Initials "Gothic C" Font, adjusting them to cope with the special (large) x-height and letter spacing of the Psalterium font (so the two sets of initials are not directly interchangeable). Drop caps in sample images above have been set using the Initials "Gothic C" Font.


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