This grand compilation presents more than 250 depictions of the alphabet's changing forms, from handsome Roman letters cut in marble and delicate English courthand to sixteenth-century Greek initials and modern styles inspired by Gothic, Japanese, and other forms of writing. In addition to its intriguing survey of historical trends, this book also offers richly illustrated reflections on the artistic ability involved in rendering the alphabet. An introductory essay traces the evolution of the English alphabet, followed by a wealth of old alphabets arranged in order of date. Among the selection of modern alphabets are samples that offer evidence of how the surface — wood, stone, leather, mosaic — and the writing instrument — chisel, needle, brush, stylus, pen — can affect the character of the lettering. An assortment of ampersands and numerals concludes the volume, along with an index of illustrations arranged by artist, country, material and process, and style. Artists, graphic artists, historians, and anyone with an interest in calligraphy will appreciate the historic sweep and artistic range of this treasury of lettering.