Monday, April 21, 2014

A Glimpse of Modernist Type Design in Germany

This set of seven type specimen sample brochures, released by the Schriftguss A-G foundry in Dresden in the late 1930s, are not only great examples of modernist design, but a nice record of foundry types being created in Germany at that time. Many of these fonts such as Helion, Diamant, and Duplex appear just as modern today as when they were released in 1937. The entire lot of these four-page type specimen brochures are available here.

Luc Devroye's extensive informational archive of typography lists a number of the type designers associated with the Schriftguss foundry, and select pages from specimen catalogs. Also included is the original Schriftguss A-G logo.

At the end of WWII in 1945, Schriftguss and two other type foundries merged and were incorporated into the state-run East German foundry, VEB Typoart. The Typoart designers were a dedicated and passionate group who enjoyed a certain amount of artistic freedom, and chiefly responsible for developing typefaces for East German publishers. Shortly after the reunification of Germany in 1990, Typoart was sold into private hands who eventually dissolved the company in 1995. Unfortunately, the copyright status of many of the Typoart font designs remains unclear, but you can read a fascinating account at PingMag of their legacy and some independent efforts by various groups, including Typoart Friends who wish to further a campaign to document and revive these fonts and credit the individual designers.   


  1. Thanks for your great design blog.
    Just one little thing.... in 1937 there was no East-/West Germany. So the title of this post is a little bit bewildering:)
    Best regards

    1. Doh! Thanks for mentioning Andrea. Noted and amended!

  2. These are some interesting designs - I wonder if most of these companies still exist. Germany at that time was unfortunately heavily influenced by National Socialism, good that these times are over...

  3. Thank you for posting these fine examples. Despite the inevitable negative associations, objective persons would acknowledge that Germany of the NS era was far and away more advanced than its contemporaries in the application of modern graphical styles.


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