24th August 2015
Before the point system was invented, typefaces of particular sizes were given names that were derived from the jobs they were most frequently used on.
‘Canon’ [48 pt] got its name from the fact that the leading lines or paragraphs of the Canons of the Church were printed in this size of type. ‘Paragon’ [20 pt] was a favourite body size with the early printers and got its name from the supposed beauty of the face. ‘Great Primer’ [18 pt] was the type-size used for The Primer, an English form of Public Prayer allowed by Henry Vlll for public use. ‘English’ [16 pt] was the size of type most frequently used in the law books and Acts of Parliament in the early days of printing. ‘Pica’ [12pt] was the size used in the Ordinal of the early Church, pica being the Latin for pie that is a table showing the order of the services of the Church. ‘Bourgeois’ [9 pt] derived its name from Bourges, the birthplace of Geofroy Tory a celebrated French typographer of the 15th century. ‘Brevier’ [8 pt] means small and refers to the large amount of this size of type that could be got into a brief space. Other type sizes were named more fancifully and with out obvious reason: ‘Mininon’ [7 pt]; ‘Nonpareil’ [6 pt]; ‘Ruby’ [5.5pt]; ‘Pearl’ [5 pt]; and ‘Diamond’ [4.5pt].