Typetofind: Search Printers


Typograaf is the Dutch word for Typographer.

Although it is something completely new - and even revolutionary - the system we present here has a long history. It started twenty years ago as a simple collection of images. These were used to identify printers of anonymous publications (i.e. publications without the name of the author or the publisher).

A collection of photocopies became in time a collection of digitized images. From 2009 on these were published on the internet as loosely organized collection of albums: printer by printer, town by town, country by country. Little or no effort was put in the collection of metadata. The quality of the images changed with the quality of the cameras we used over the years.

Users of the current system will note that the image quality differs and so do the metadata that accompany the images. In time we will make changes to make the quality of the images and the metadata uniform.

A collection of printed materials from the period 1450 to 1800 in high resolution.
There are currently 35197 items, and the collection is extended daily, Deo volente.

The collection consists of Type specimens, Historiated Initials, Title pages, Ornaments, Printers Devices, Factoti, Woodcuts, Images and Fleurons all sorted by country.

There are currently items from the following countries: Belgium, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Czechia, Great Britain, Poland and Spain

The items are being catalogued according to the associated printer as a work in progress.


Today there are probably more than 1.000.000 different typefaces available on the internet. They can be bought from great firms or from the designers themselves.

Many typedesigners get their inspiration from ancient examples. In the 15th century most printers had their own typefaces cut and more than 3000 different typefaces can be found in early printed incunabula.

The 16th-18th century brought us designs that are still well known, by designers such as Jenson, Garamond, Caslon, Baskerville and Bodoni - to name but a few.

Typograaf proposes to present as many of these as possible. Scholars can trace how typeface developed and spread over time. Designers can use the detailed images as a source of inspiration.

View the Type specimens

Historiated Initials

istoriated initials originate in the age of manuscripts where they were conceived and grew into functional instruments that gave both order to a text and aesthetic pleasure to the reader. Some of these painted initials are proper works of art, created by artists that were famous even in their own time, others are simple images, made by an anonymous rubricator.

Initials can be as big as a page or as small as any letter, intricate and multicoloured or simple designs in red or blue. They are always things of beauty which is enhanced by their great age. Any non-specialist will point at them if asked to specify one single attribute of medieval manuscripts.

It is no wonder that historiated initials migrated to the printed book, together with the texts they embellished. Printed initials are not as well known as their painted genitors although they were used by all printers from 1500 onwards into the 18th century. We suppose that there must have been more than 500.000 of them. The typograaf project proposes to locate as many of these as possible.

The Typograaf selection tool makes it possible to study them in detail. Work is in progress to catalog the historiated initials iconographically using the ICONCLASS subject classification system.

View the Historiated Initials

Title pages

The title page was invented in the late 15th century by the German printer Erhard Ratdolt who worked in Venice and Augsburg.

Each country, each town, each period and even each printer has a style of it's own that changed gradually over time. These changes are of great interest: the title page is the place where the book interacts with it's environment.

The collection of title-pages in Typograaf makes it possible to study it's history. It also proposes to introduce modern bookdesigners to the history of their trade.

View the Title pages