Möbelfabrik Lengfeld invoice, 1931
This week’s invoice was issued in 1931 by one of the many furniture industries located in Themar, a small Thuringian town also known as “Möbelstadt (furniture town) Themar”. It combines two display members of the greater Erbar-Grotesk series, the inline Phosphor (for “RECHNUNG”) and the reversed Lucina (for the bank account information). Just like in last week’s example, Lucina’s border elements were used to compose fancy ribbons. This time, we get to see the lighter weight of the negative all-caps typeface.
The company’s name at the top is set in one of the numerous modernized oldstyle faces issued in the late 19th century under names such as Römisch, Romanisch, Lateinisch, Romana, etc. While the styles of regular weight have roots in the French Elzevir revival, the bold display companions go back to Gustave F. Schroeder’s De Vinne (Central Type Foundry, 1890), which in turn is influenced by the capitals of Römische Antiqua as designed by Albert Anklam for Genzsch & Heyse, and acquired by the De Vinne Press in 1885. [Bertheau: Buchdruckschriften im 20. Jahrhundert]
The pointy ear in ‘g’ and the relatively open ‘a’ suggest that the version used here might be Romanisch halbfett as cast by Schelter & Giesecke in 1895. These details, among others, are different in the smaller line below (“Lengfeld/Themar”), which looks closer to Römisch halbfett by Ludwig Wagner (1900), cf. the snippets from Seemann.
To contemporary eyes, these faces may appear like whimsical precursors of Times New Roman — or to quote Dan Reynolds, “Romana is such a drunk TNR”. For a long time, Romana (in two slightly different interpretations by Bitstream and URW++/E+F/Linotype) was about the only digitally available option. Luckily, this is no longer true: In 2016, Camelot released Rando, “a contemporary homage to German romanesque typefaces from the late 19th / early 20th century”, in two optical sizes. In particular, Maurice Göldner’s interpretation takes cues from Hamburger Römisch (Schriftguss A.G.) and Anker-Romanisch. The latter is another name for the Nr. 20 branch of Schelter & Giesecke’s Romanisch series, probably introduced to distinguish it from other similarly named releases (the foundry’s logotype shows an anchor).
The extended Grotesk (“SPEISE- UND HERRENZIMMER”, “M.L. Nr.”) is a style that originated at Wagner & Schmidt and was cast by various foundries under different names, including Aurora-Grotesk VII breithalbfett (C.E. Weber) and Edel-Grotesk breit halbfett (Joh. Wagner).
The smaller sans serif used for the contact information is Consul, a largely forgotten face released by the Berlin foundry Woellmer in 1903. It served as inspiration for DN Grotesk, which later became FF Dagny, see e.g. the ‘f’. Reymund Schröder did a revival of Consul in 5 styles together with Stephan Müller (unreleased).
The most inconspicuous — but therefore all the more interesting — font used in this invoice seems to be another one by Woellmer. It is depicted in a specimen from 1894 as Schreibmaschinen-Schrift (“typewriter typeface”), and is listed in Seemann (1926) under the commercially more viable name Schreibmaschinenschrift Kanzler. It can be seen as an early ancestor of FF Trixie and Co. Kanzler is less extreme and not dirty at all, but with wonky details like the asymmetrical ‘m’, it is not an idealized face like Courier either. Anyway, its purpose was to simulate typewritten text with foundry type, as the specimen text confirms:
This typeface is modeled on the type of the typewriter, and the prints made from it are, in fact, deceptively similar to the typescripts produced by the typewriter. For best results, choose a printing ink similar in hue to the violet, red or blue color of the typewriter.
The advice regarding color was neglected here, and yet the result is reasonably convincing, thanks to the irregularities introduced by letterpress printing. However, the direct comparison with actual typewritten text reveals that there’s still room for improvement. Maybe that’s why Woellmer also made a textured typewriter face named Schreibmaschinenschrift Rekord, also known as No. 2000.
By the way, the only broken letterforms on this piece of ephemera can be found in the handwritten line in Kurrent, “Bezahlt am 22. 8. 1931 abzüglich 5% Skonto 72.20 ℳ.”
Kudos to Jens Jørgen Hansen for kindly sharing some pictures of Consul and Schreibmaschinen-Schrift to verify the IDs!
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