Boycott Nazi Type


Proclamaion bottom

Proclamation to Craftsmen, Artisans and Friends of the Graphic Arts

Last year I came across a document entitled “Proclamation to Craftsmen, Artisans and Friends of the Graphic Arts” issued by the Graphic Arts Forum in 1939. It announces a boycott of Nazi types as part of the war effort by those in graphic design and publishing. Among the signatories—all from New York—are publishers Bennett Cerf (of Random House), B.W. Huebsch (of the Viking Press), Alfred A. Knopf, and George Macy (of The Limited Editions Club); artists Richard Floethe, Rockwell Kent and Lynd Ward; type designers Frederic W. Goudy (whose typefaces are used for the heading) and Max Kaufmann; typographer Gilbert P. Farrar; book designers Elmer Adler, Helen Gentry and Robert Josephy; advertising man Earnest Elmo Calkins; industrial designer Russel Wright; and Dr. Robert Leslie of The Composing Room. I know nothing more about it than what can be gleaned from the text which is that the boycott is in response to the persecution by the Nazis of German artists and designers; and that its intent is to prevent Germany’s “subversive attempts to transform the United States into a land of fascist oppression.”

On the reverse side is a list of German (“Nazi-Made”) typefaces that should be boycotted and American substitutes (e.g. ATF Bodoni in place of Bauer Bodoni; or Spartan in place of Futura). Some of the substitutes are blatant piracies (e.g. Norway for Neuland). Of course this ignores the fact that some of the designers of these typefaces, such as Paul Renner, were anti-Nazis; and that others like Lucian Bernhard and Howard Trafton were American citizens.

Boycott Nazi Types

Boycott Nazi Types

Boycott Nazi Types—Encourage American Design

A Google snippet from Printing (vol. 67, p. 56) indicates that the boycott had fizzled by January 1943. Presumably it petered out because trade with Germany had been suspended once the United States entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Note: Alex Jay has pointed me to a Google Books item labeled “Material Relating to Boycott of Nazi Typefaces” which turns out to be a box of ephemera about the subject at Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. The material (BANC MSS 2000/84 cz) includes minutes of the Graphic Arts Forum’s type committee meeting of May 1939 which led to the proclamation.

Further note: Alex has sent this citation from Google News. “Printers Ask Germany Ban” from The Deseret News, 13 July 1939. Other newspapers, including The New York Times and The Springfield Republican, reported the boycott the same day as well. None of the articles add any information not already found in the proclamation itself.