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Fritz Knorr Buchdruckerei business card

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Jan 13th, 2022. Artwork published in .
    Fritz Knorr Buchdruckerei business card
    Source: ausstellungen.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de © Lilo Tschichold-Link / Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. License: CC BY-SA.

    A business card for a printing office in Leipzig, designed by Jan Tschichold (then known as Iwan Tschichold, or ivan tschichold) in 1925, in the style of the New Typography, using exclusively type and borders, with geometric forms (here in the form of circular dots) added to support and emphasize the semantic structure (and not for arbitrary decoration).

    At that time, young Tschichold (born 1902) was working as typographic designer at printer and publisher Fischer & Wittig, and also as assistant teacher at the Leipzig Academy, under Hermann Delitsch. In October of the same year, he made huge waves with the publication of a special issue of Typographische Mitteilungen. Compiled and designed by him, it presented works and texts by László Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky, Herbert Bayer, Kurt Schwitters, among other Modernist protagonists, and included a manifesto in which Tschichold outlines his ideas for an Elementare Typographie.

    Regarding fonts to use, that meant: “Elementare Schriftform ist die Groteskschrift aller Variationen: mager — halbfett — fett — schmal bis breit.” (“The elementary typeface form is the sans serif of all variations: light — bold — black — condensed to extended.”) One of the already available typefaces that met the criteria of having elementary forms and being as matter-of-fact, impersonal and timeless as possible was Neue moderne Grotesk, a design that originated in 1908 at the Leipzig punchcutting firm Wagner & Schmidt, and went under numerous names. On the business card, it’s used in the fett weight, and exclusively in caps (“why have two characters for one sound?”). The light weight can be seen in use for “sonderheft” on the cover of the 1925 issue. In 1928, Tschichold would make extensive use of Neue moderne Grotesk for his book Die Neue Typographie.

    The business card is part of an online exhibition curated by Linda Wößner and published by the Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. The DNB has digitized the estate papers of Tschichold, and made them available online. To quote Dan Reynolds, that’s kind of amaze!

    Fritz Knorr Buchdruckerei was located on Bayersche Straße 24. In 1928, the spelling was altered to Bayrische Straße, and in August 1945 the street got renamed to Arthur-Hoffmann-Straße, in memory of anti-fascist resistance fighter Arthur Hoffmann who had lived there, and whom the Nazis had executed in January 1945.

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    • Neue Moderne Grotesk / Aurora-Grotesk  I–IV

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