From the Archives no. 24—German printing trade magazines in the 1930s

Cover of Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik (1934)

In the remains of the Charles Francis Memorial Library I recently found one copy of Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik from 1934 and two copies of Druck und Werbekunst from 1937. They shed a little more light on the use of typefaces during the Third Reich. Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik was “published by the association of german printers, and it is a great source for texts and examples of german typography,” according to Felix Weidler of He says that, “each issue was printed by different companies on a variety of different papers with covers and inserts featuring designs by different artists. managing editor was hans bockwitz (1884-1954), director of the german book and writing museum in leipzig.” [The lack of capitalization is in the original text.] Druck und Werbekunst was founded by Hans Garte (1882–1960) in 1924 as Offset- Buch- und Werbekunst. The name was changed in 1936.

The Spring 1934 issue of Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik has a very modern cover with a full-bleed, close-up photograph of machinery parts. Superimposed on top are the masthead and the special issue tag line (“Bugra Maschinen-Messe”) and issue number. The former is handlettered in a heavy textura and the latter is typeset in Futura Light, together encapsulating the schizoid typographic aesthetics of the period: Volkisch blackletter vs. modern sans serif. The design is by Karl Wehmeier. The issue is principally set in an unidentified Elzevir, possibly Mediäval-Antiqua from Schelter & Giesecke (but originally from Reed & Sons in England), combined with Caslon-Gotisch for heads and subheads. The main focus of the issue is on the Bugra Maschinen-Messe in Leipzig, a major printing industry fair.

“Mit kritischen Augen durch die Bugra-Maschinen-Messe 1934”

However, preceding that long article is a shorter one of eight pages promoting “Deutsches Volk, Deutsches Arbeit” (April 21 to June 3 in Berlin), the first exhibition heralding the Nazis’ “New Germany”. It is set in what looks like Rembrandt-Fraktur with title in Tiemann-Fraktur. The exhibition was intended to show off German industry. However, there are no photographs of it, only sketches, suggesting that the text was written prior to its opening. Some photographs, principally of the Mining Section designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich with graphics by Herbert Bayer, can be found online at Kosmograd’s Flickr site. The exterior of the exhibition hall, complete with monumental hammers topped by a large gear encircling a swastika and signage in sans serif capitals, can be found among photographs posted online by the Bundesarchiv.

Bayer designed the catalogue, entitled Deutsches Volk Deutsches Arbeit: Austellung Berlin Kaiserdamm, 21.4.–3.6. 1934, that accompanied the exhibition. It is set in an antiqua face with a condensed sans serif (handlettered?) for the title on the cover.

Tribute to Rudolf Koch (1876–1934), type designer

Rudolf Koch, the antithesis of Bayer as a designer, died 9 April 1934. This issue of Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik carries a special four-page insert in his memory, set appropriately in his Wallau—but with the “Deutsche” capitals instead of the original antiqua ones.

There are four typefaces advertised in the issue, two texturas in the new schaftstiefelgrotesk style and two Baroque frakturs: a double-page insert for Tannenberg Schmale (with text announcing an exhibition of “Die schöne deutsche Schrift” sponsored by the Kampfbund für Deutsche Kultur in the Kunstegewerbemuseum in Frankfurt) from D. Stempel AG, a quarter-page advertisement for Leibniz-Fraktur from Genzsch & Heyse AG, another quarter-page advertisement for Standarte (described as “Eine neuer schöner Ausdruck deutschen Formwillens”) from Schelter & Giesecke, and the back cover dedicated to Original Breitkopf-Fraktur (described as “Eine charaktervolle deutsche Schrift für das gute Buch und für die Akzidenz…”) from Ludwig Wagner AG. The Standarte showing is accompanied by Rhythmus, a Futura clone. The mix of new, modernist-inflected blackletter faces and classical, literary ones symbolizes two different visions of German greatness, those looking to the industrial future—the advertisement for Mergenthaler Setzmaschinen-Fabrik GmbH is set in Tannenberg Schmale—and those looking to the cultural past.

Detail, advertisement for Tannenberg Schmale

Detail, advertisement for Standardte

Advertisement for Original Breitkopf-Fraktur

There is a summary at the back of the issue of new typefaces recently released: Beton, Quick, Element, Tannenberg, National, Fanal and Flamme. The latter two specimens are said to have been designed by Will Burtin. Beton is a geometric slab serif; Quick, Fanal and Flamme are scripts; and Element, Tannenberg and National are schaftstiefelgrotesks.

Cover, Druck und Werbekunst no. 5 (1937)

Druck und Werbekunst (Printing and Advertising Art) was published in English as well as German, indicating that it was intended for a foreign audience as well as a domestic one. This might explain why the texts are set in antiqua faces and very little blackletter appears in either 1937 issue. Issue no. 5 is set in Bodoni while issue no. 7 is a strange mix of Albion (a narrow Fat Face) and Blado Italic. The typefaces that appear in the advertisements in issue no. 5 include Stempel Garamond, Memphis, Normande (a Fat Face from Berthold), Futura (including one advertisement using the version with a ball terminal r), Arkona (a script), Kabel, Block, a Baroque fraktur (maybe Maysche Fraktur?), Caslon-Gotisch, Weiss Gotisch and Tannenberg (the back cover advertisement for Druckerei Martin Philipsen).

The advertisements in issue no. 7 sports Walbaum, Phosphor (an inline version of Erbar), Neuland, Futura (including a small advertisement for the Schule der Reichshauptstadt für das graphische Gewerbe* in Berlin) along with some handlettered texturas. There are no schaftstiefelgrotesks.

Front cover, inserted brochure for Chn-Mansfield Maschinenfabrik

Back cover, inserted brochure for Chn-Mansfield Maschinenfabrik

Back cover, Druck und Werbekunst no. 5 (1937)

The one place where blackletter is prominent is in an article on the fourth annual Reichsberufswettkampf (National Vocational Competition) in no. 5. The text is set in Bodoni but all of the winning posters and certificates are lettered in textura. Also, this is the only place where the swastika appears.

Opening page of article on the 4th annual Reichsberufswettkampf

*The schriftkunstler Johannes Boehland, Gudrun Zapf von Hesse’s mentor, taught at the school. His efforts were profiled in the April 1938 issue of Die zeitgemaße Schrift Heft 45.

Advertisement for the Schule der Reichshauptstadt für die graphische Gewerbe in Berlin