Reissue Project
The Study and Design of Type

The reissue project has been funded as a Kickstarter campaign on the occasion of the centenary of Aldo Novarese’s birth  (June 29th 2020).

The Author: Aldo Novarese

Aldo Novarese, born in Pontestura, Italy, on June 29, 1920, achieved worldwide renown for his extraordinary typefaces. In 1936, at the age of sixteen, he began working at Nebiolo, a lead-type foundry and printing-press factory, under the mentorship of Alessandro Butti. In 1952 he succeeded Butti as director of the in-house design studio.

His long career at Nebiolo saw the production of about thirty typefaces in over one hundred styles, until 1975, when Nebiolo’s cast-metal foundry was shut down, and its production of lead type came to a full stop. As his job there evaporated, Novarese launched a freelance career, designing for an international client base that included Agfa, Berthold, Haas, ITC, Mecanorma, Photo Typositor, Reber, Tygra, and Visual Graphics, producing around seventy new typefaces, which to this day have not been fully cataloged.

The Book: Alfa-Beta

The first edition of Alfa-Beta reviewed the evolution of writing systems and typography from their advent up to the present day. The first edition was published in 1964 by Progresso Grafico and distributed by G.B. Paravia & C. The book showcases a very specific point of view: it is one of very few works on the history of type originally written in Italian, and one of even fewer to have been written by a type designer rather than a historian or academic. It also marked the public debut of Novarese’s own typeface classification system.

The first edition of Alfa-Beta, released in 1964, was published in 1964 by Progresso Grafico and distributed by G.B. Paravia & C. The cover price was 5,000 Italian liras.

This book is a testament to Aldo Novarese’s overall work and design ethos. It is a highly specific vision of the discipline, written by a practitioner, describing the evolution of writing. He stakes no claim on completeness or scientific rigor, but rather outlines the field in a highly functional way, justifying the forms and typographic styles of the time. Therefore, in addition to being one of very few textbooks on the theory and practice of type design written by an Italian, Alfa-Beta also presents the history of typography from an original, dynamic perspective that remains a noteworthy source of inspiration.