ASCII Art from 1740 (via Notes For Bibliophiles)

Taken from ‘Analog ASCII’:

the idea of building up an image from individual letters and other characters is much older than the computer …

Christian Gessner’s Die so nöthig als nützliche Buchdruckerkunst und Schriftgiessery (1740-1745) is a manual of printing, copiously illustrated with copperplate engravings (including an impressive depiction of a printing shop) and other images, like this fold-out depiction of cathedral spires (with apologies for the poor scan) [Image 1]

If you look closely, you’ll notice that in this case the method of illustration is not engraving; instead the image is composed (literally) entirely of typographical ornaments. That means that every section of every line is probably the imprint of a single piece of type.

This Spanish broadside, printed in Valencia [Image 2], dates from slightly later in the century but it follows the same principle. The most clever touch, in my opinion, is the use of two “O”s for windows in the upper area of the tower.

More information, including high definition photographs of the images above where you really see each individual character, can be seen at the  Notes For Bibliophiles post.