Philip Baxter Meggs (1942–2002) was an American graphic designer, professor, historian and author of books on graphic design. His book History of Graphic Design is a definitive, standard read for the study of graphic design.

He has been called the most important historian of design since Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-1983). In contrast to Pevsner, he published a history of graphic design that went beyond the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One of the first educators to create an overview of the history of graphic design that did not depend exclusively on the traditional structure of the history of the art, Meggs believed that graphic design would need to acquire an adequate understanding of the past and its relation with art.

15,000 – 10,000 BC

The first known visual communication, with pictographs and symbols in the Lascaux caves in southern France.

3600 BC
The Blau Monument, the oldest artifact known to combine words and pictures.

105 AD
Chinese government official Ts’ai Lun credited with inventing paper.

The Book of Kells, masterpiece of Celtic illuminated manuscripts

1045 AD
Pi Sheng invents movable type, allowing for characters to be individually placed for printing.

Printing arrives in Europe with a paper mill in Fabriano, Italy.

Johann Gensfleisch zum Gutenburg credited with perfecting the system for printing type in books.

Fust & Schoeffer, Psalter in Latin, earliest example of color printing in Europe

Albrecht Pfister the first to add illustrations to a printed book.

Nicolas Jenson, considered one of history’s greatest typeface designers, sets news standard for Roman type.

Erhard Ratdolt, Calendarium, first publisher of Euclid, German working in Venice, Italian Rennaissance, 3-sided borders

Nuremberg Chronicles, Anton Koberger

Geoffroy Tory, Champ Fleury, criblé technique, printed initials, reformer of the French language

Claude Garamond opens first type foundry, developing and selling fonts to printers.

First Caslon Old Style font developed, later used for the printing of the Declaration of Independence.

Fournier le Jeune, standardization of proportion, French, variety of weights and widths>>type family

Industrial Revolution begins, setting the stage for advances in graphic design production.

Thomas Cotterell, twelve line pica display letterforms for advertising

Typography Innovations

Author Aloys Senefelder develops lithography.

Lord Stanhope invents first printing press made of all cast-iron parts, requiring 1/10 the manual labor and doubling the possible paper size.

First sans-serif font makes a subtle entrance as one line of a book.

Reign of Queen Victoria in England

Crystal Palace Exhibition, present  from Prince Alpert to Queen Victoria, showcase the wonders of the Industrial Revolution

Owen Jones, Grammar of Ornament, “bible” for designers of the Victorian era

Williams Morris, who became a highly influential figure in design history, sets up art-decorating firm.

Development of halftone screen allows for first photo printed with a full range of tones.

Art Nouveau movement begins and changes design, making its way into all types of commercial design and utilizing all types of arts.

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