Palatino: The Natural History of a Typeface is printed in an edition of three hundred copies, each numbered and signed by the author Robert Bringhurst. Each copy contains two additional specimens printed letterpress by Richard Seibert – one from polymer plates, the other from handset Heraklit loaned for this purpose by Norman McKnight. The book is 296 pages, measures 5 5/9 x 9 inches, and is bound in full cloth with two-color typographic endpapers and a two-color letterpress titling label, slipcased.
The main text – along with 200 illustrations of design sketches, working drawings, smoke proofs and test prints, matrices, foundry patterns, and Linotype patterns – is printed offset in five colors. (Most of the illustrations are published here for the first time.) The letterpress portions of the book are printed by Jerry Kelly in two colors from handset foundry type and Linotype metal.
Zapf was not the only type designer and book designer whose career spanned the tumultuous transitions from metal type to phototype to digital type, but Palatino and its relatives appear to be unique in the complexity of their evolution and the multiplicity of their successive adaptations, under the hand of the original designer, to repeatedly changing methods of typesetting and printing.
This book provides a detailed and sumptuously illustrated account of the evolution of all members of the Palatino tribe: foundry Palatino, Linotype Palatino, Michelangelo, Sistina, Aldus, Heraklit, Phidias, American Palatino, Enge Aldus, Linofilm Palatino, Zapf Renaissance, PostScript Palatino, Palatino Nova, Aldus Nova, and Palatino Sans. It includes new specimens of the foundry and Linotype faces printed by hand directly from the metal, as well as hundreds of color illustrations documenting the artistry and care expended in creating these components of our typographic heritage.