Most type-designs are derived from a craft that is 100's of years old. Good examples of the earliest type faces are hard to get. But now the Amsterdam professor for the History of the Book (Paul Dijstelberge) has started to publish high resolution pictures of early type-specimen on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bookhistorian/.
This will take years - about 6500 pictures so far.
Here is a small multiple of the type of albert Durer (1530).
and a detail