It's just an inverted N. What we find so unusual today, perhaps in the early years of the printing press, it wasn't. It's simple to see an inverted N on our screen, where only one hand acts by pressing a key. In the process of the typographic printing system, several hands acted or at least several steps were taken to obtain a printed page:
- Metal punch with the shape of the letter carved in relief
- Matrix made with a punch stroke
- Creation of the metal type with a lead and tin alloy
- Assembling the metal blocks manually, all in mirror image
- Printing form
The great Gutenberg's invention is the point 3: the hand-held mold for typecasting.
Punch, matrix and metal type
All this process may involve some final error. We are talking about 1468, just 30 years after the invention of the printing press, date that does not indicate its expansion in Europe.
In fact Gutenberg was not the one who promoted its expansion, but his assistants Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer, who, especially the first one, had the commercial character that Gutenberg lacked.
Fust, willing to do business with the new printed Bibles, appeared in Paris with a number of them, saying they were handwritten, to get more money and to the astonishment of people who didn't understand how suddenly a stranger appears with a lots of Bibles of excellent quality.
But the writing of these Bibles wasn't that perfect and they had unusual mistakes among the scribes, such as:
- Absence of characters
- Inverted characters
- Upside down characters
- Exchange characters position
And to these errors was added an absolutely unusual:
- All books had the same mistakes on the same pages!
Having made the sale, and happy with the business, Fust could not only rejoice to have recovered part of the money invested in the Gutenberg workshop but also the new business he had. And of course, safeguarding the secret of the method used in the creation of such books. But his happiness lasted until the French Inquisition knocked on his door demanding explanations as they assumed that those Bibles had been written by the devil himself. Without wanting to face any of the possible punishments (until death) of the inquisition, Fust was forced to unveil the new invention: the typographic printing system.
There are conflicting opinions that Goethe used this story as a basis to create the character of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the devil for fame and money.
(From all the films of the Faust myth, my favorite is Angel Heart)
The provenience of Latin characters is a path of confusions and reinterpretations of the Romans about the Etruscans, the Etruscans about the Greeks, the Greeks about the Phoenicians and the Phoenicians about the Egyptians.
At first, the Greeks wrote Boustrophedonically or in the sense of the plow of the field, this means, from left to right and from right to left in alternative lines. When they made the decision to take a single direction of writing, many characters had been inverted.
It may be that the ancient scribes of Venice still preserved the ancient way of the Greek N.
On the other side, we must not forget that these characters come from calligraphy. Both the M and the N in calligraphy are usually represented in a different way than in the capital characters, where the N path is exactly the inverted capital N