Some Numerals

. Some of these Roman numerals used in old titles and colophons are difficult to read:



IↃ or D500
DCCCC or CM900
M or CIↃ1,000
IↃↃ or5,000
CCIↃↃ or10,000
IↃↃↃ or50,000
CCCIↃↃↃ or100,000
IↃↃↃↃ or500,000
CCCCIↃↃↃↃ or1,000,000

The roman numerals have their own cozy little home in Unicode: I is U+2160 (Ⅰ), II is U+2161 (Ⅱ), and so on; I have used U+2183 Roman numeral reversed one hundred (Ↄ) for the backwards C. On my computer it is supplied by the DejaVu Sans font. In the book, the reversed C sits lower than other letters, but is the same size as a capital letter C; it is rotated through 180 degrees, which would have made it sit lower than the other letters.

There is also a Unicode character for CD, or CIↃ, which should look a little like an uncial M: U+2180 roman numeral one thousand C D (ↀ).

V̄ should be a V with a bar over it.

If the letter number be placed before the greater, the lesser is to be deducted from the greater; thus IV signifies one less than five, i.e. four; IX, nine; XC, ninety. If the lesser number be placed after the greater, the lesser is to be added to the greater; thus VI signifies one more than five, i.e. six; XI, eleven; CX, one hundred and ten. An horizontal stroke over a numeral denotes a thousand; thus V̄ signifies five thousand; L̄ fifty thousand; M̄ a thousand times a thousand, or a million. IↃ or D signifies five hundred, the half of CIↃ. M or CIↃ, a thousand, from mille. The latter figures joined at the top [uncial M], formed the ancient M.

Taken from Gesta Typographica by Chas. Jacobi, 1897, page 18.

Richard Pynson


John Gutenberg

Gothic Letters

Type Founding in Europe

Pica Type

Long Primer



Newspapers were first printed

[The Vatican’s Printing Press]


Richard Pynson

Some Numerals

John Gutenberg


The first work printed in Germany in the Roman characters

John Fust, or Faust

The first work in the English language

The Length of Literary Copyright

The letters in the alphabets of the different nations

Henry Stephens, Stephanus, or Étienne

Robert Stephens

Charles Stephens