Reader Services Curious Finds -Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises

Today’s Curious Find comes from one of our regular readers, Mr Michael Gilligan, who has brought Joseph Moxon’s Mechanik Exercises to our attention.


He says that this book, which was first published in a series of small volumes, has remained the definitive work on the printing process.

curiousmechanik6On Page 15 Moxon enthuses over the letter design and cutting of Christoffel Van Dijck of Amsterdam, and plates 11-17 are Moxon’s analysis of the font.


“…and indeed all the accomplishments that can render letter regular and beautiful, do more visibly appear in them than in any letters cut by any other people”

Mr Gilligan notes that many modern font designers decry Moxon’s attempt to reduce their art to lines and circles and analysis, but that it was, and remains, an important exercise.

Included is a frontispiece portrait of Gutenberg which puts Moxon’s ‘Mechanick Exercises’ project into context.


Today’s Curious Find is Joseph Moxon, Mechanick exercises: or, the doctrine of handy-works, applied to the art of printing (London, 1683). Available at the John Rylands Library (21081.1).

If you would like to consult any items in the Special Collections reading room, please contact the team at or +44 (0)161 275 3764.

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