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Battenfjords Hotels Natstation & Kafe broadside

Contributed by Nick Sherman on Apr 22nd, 2024. Artwork published in
circa 1909
Battenfjords Hotels Natstation & Kafe broadside
Source: National Library of Norway. License: All Rights Reserved.

Norwegian poster from the collection of the National Library of Norway promoting early-morning service hours for Battenfjords Hotels Nightstation and Cafe. No date is visible on the poster, but the library dates it to 1909, which seems about right for its typographic style.

As was typical for much job printing at the turn of the 20th century, the poster features an eclectic mix of many different typefaces and font sizes. The background is printed with a split-fountain gradient of rainbow-like stripes.

See the related listing at the National Library of Norway.

Full transcription:

Natstation & Kafe
holdes herefter aaben for Reisende fra Molde ou Hjelseth
fra Kl. 2 til 4 Morgen
Værelser for Ophold til Dampskibsafgang kan erholdes
◆ ◆ Kafeén i 1ste Etage anbefales ◆ ◆
Billige Priser ! ! !
Reisende har herefter at henvende sig til Hotellets Indehaver om Skyds
E. O. Samuelsen.

6 Comments on “Battenfjords Hotels Natstation & Kafe broadside”

  1. Is it just me or does Kalligraphia look a little different?

  2. Yeah you’re right, it doesn’t seem to be a dead-on match – you can definitely see the difference with the lowercase a. There is this similar typeface called Belgravia No. 2 from Caslon that looks much closer. I’ll make a new typeface page for that in the database here and assign that instead of Kalligraphia.

  3. It’s also not a dead-on match (at least when comparing this extra-large poster size and the images of smaller sizes I have access to at the moment), but I’ve made a quick entry for Belgravia and assigned it here since it’s definitely closer than Kalligraphia.

    When I have more time, I’m gonna have to dig around to see if I can find out more about Belgravia and its relatives to better fill out that typeface page and/or confirm a closer match for this poster, but at least there’s a stub of a thread in place now.

  4. To me the weight suggests Reklame-Kursiv, rather than Merkur.

  5. I looked a little deeper into Belgravia. While I can’t claim to have figured out the origin of this design in its entirety, I found that Stempel had it under the name Merkur. In a 1918 specimen, Stempel presented it as a patented original design of theirs, in three weights. Type historian Hans Reichardt dates two weights of Merkur to “before 1899” (and Caslon’s Belgravia to 1899). In this light, I have updated our typeface page including the sample, now with Merkur as the (provisional) canonical name. I also added eight more foundries that carried versions of this design, using six more aliases, as well as more links to specimens.

    Stempel carried a related bolder typeface, Reklame-Kursiv (see a comparison to Kalligraphia). The foundry likewise presented it as their patented original design. It was also cast by Caslon – as Caligraph. I’ve updated that page, too.

    As Riccardo writes, the weight of the typeface used for “Natstation & Kafe” is bolder, and closer to Reklame-Kursiv. But as Nick writes, it’s not a dead-on match, for neither of these metal typefaces. Details like the e with horizontal middle part can’t be found in any of them. I’ve changed the (approximate) ID to Reklame-Kursiv for now.

    Wood type adaptations of foundry type can deviate quite drastically from the originals. Nevertheless, we tend to group them together with related typefaces, in order to avoid too much fragmentation in the database. In case we come across a perfect match for “Natstation & Kafe” in the future, we’ll add this info here, and maybe give it a distinct typeface page.

    The same applies for other IDs. For example, Monastic isn’t really a match for the condensed caps used for “Battenfjords Hotels”. But it’s what comes closest for now, and, judging from the peculiar J, appears to be related somehow.

    For typeface designs from before around 1900, things can get messy really quickly. Instead of handing out lots of “unidentified typeface” tags, it can make more sense to go with an approximation – or one of our generic genre buckets, like Clarendon/Ionic. This pragmatic approach is different from what we do with more recent and contemporary typefaces. For those, we really want to be accurate with the IDs.

  6. Thanks for all the extra info Florian!

    I agree the weight of Reklame-Kursiv is definitely closer to the face used on this poster, and I had actually considered assigning that after Quinn’s initial comment. But a few topological details made it seem closer to Merkur/Belgravia, structurally, even if the weight isn’t as close.

    Specifically, the lowercase o and a of Reklame-Kursiv have very distinctive breaks at their top right, whereas this poster has solid forms and an a with a more typical stem like Merkur’s.

    Either way, as Florian mentioned, unless we find a perfect match I think it’s fine to assign an approximate identification for now.

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