Over Shabbat lunch a guest of ours and I discussed the origins of “Rashi Script.” I thought that there might be some interest in what we found. The following passage is quoted from Mordechai Glatzer’s essay “Early Hebrew Printing” in A Sign and a Witness : 2,000 Years of Hebrew Books and Illuminated Manuscripts, p. 89 (this is a nice collection for anyone who is interested in the history of Hebrew manuscripts and printing):
“At this point we must explain the origin of the term ‘Rashi script,’ which refers to the semi-cursive typeface used in Hebrew books. Clearly Rashi himself wrote an Ashkenazi script. What, then, is the explanation of this term? It would be absurd to claim that its origin lies in the 1475 Reggio di Calabria edition of Rashi’s commentary on the Torah-the oldest dated Hebrew printed book-which was printed in Sephardic semi-cursive letters. There is no reason to assume that particular edition was more common than the earlier 1470 Rome edition of Rashi’s commentary on the Torah, which was printed in square Ashkenazi letters. Two editions of Rashi’s commentary on the Torah were also printed in Spain in the fifteenth century, one in semi-cursive type and the other in square letters. In general, early editions disappear quickly, and it would be impossible to claim that a single book, the extent of whose circulation is unknown, is the reason for giving that name to the Sephardic semi-cursive script.
The term ‘Rashi script’ originates rather in the editions of the Bible and Talmud beginning with the Soncino editions and those of Bomberg, which were repeatedly reissued, creating a printing tradition which remains in force to this day.”
Update: Jay Rovner has a few comments here about “Rashi script”. Also Dan Rabinowitz in the comments raises an interesting question, what is the history of the term “Rashi script”? When did this type of script become associated with Rashi?