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Thesis Open Access

Schriftkünstler: A historiographic examination of the relationship between handcraft and art regarding the design and making of printers' type in Germany between 1871 and 1914

Reynolds, Daniel John Andrew

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        <foaf:name>Reynolds, Daniel John Andrew</foaf:name>
        <foaf:givenName>Daniel John Andrew</foaf:givenName>
            <foaf:name>Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig</foaf:name>
    <dct:title>Schriftkünstler: A historiographic examination of the relationship between handcraft and art regarding the design and making of printers' type in Germany between 1871 and 1914</dct:title>
    <dct:issued rdf:datatype="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#gYear">2020</dct:issued>
    <dcat:keyword>design history</dcat:keyword>
    <dct:issued rdf:datatype="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#date">2020-03-10</dct:issued>
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    <dct:description>&lt;p&gt;The visual appearances for most of the letterpress-printing typefaces published in&amp;nbsp;Germany during the twentieth century are attributed to specific designers. Typefoundries,&amp;nbsp;or the firms who manufactured those products, presented them as collaborations&amp;nbsp;between individual artists and themselves as corporate entities. Only on rare&amp;nbsp;occasions were the internal workers within the firms who produced the final forms of&amp;nbsp;the products ever mentioned by name in publications about them, unlike the typefaces&amp;rsquo;&amp;nbsp;designers; however, from the earliest surviving drawings prepared by those&amp;nbsp;typefaces&amp;rsquo; designers, as well as from their written accounts about the type-design and&amp;nbsp;type-making processes, it is clear that the work they submitted to the foundries could&amp;nbsp;not have been implemented exactly as-is. In this research, I have analysed German&amp;nbsp;typefounding in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through the surviving&amp;nbsp;process and production drawings made for products, as well as through accounts&amp;nbsp;written by participants involved in these steps. The typefaces for which accounts have&amp;nbsp;survived only represent a small fraction of those mentioned in the history that&amp;nbsp;follows. To form that narrative, I have used a synecdochic approach, relying on these&amp;nbsp;parts to describe the industry as a whole.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;A typefoundry&amp;rsquo;s products did not necessarily all originate in-house; but inside of&amp;nbsp;the firms who did collaborate with external designers, the initiative to do so must have&amp;nbsp;come from the respective company owners and directors, who would have believed&amp;nbsp;that products based on the work of external contributors could prove financially&amp;nbsp;successful, enabling their businesses to grow, and strengthening their &amp;ldquo;corporate&amp;nbsp;identities&amp;rdquo; or reputations. The various foundry owners and directors who did this may&amp;nbsp;have been influenced by one another, but by 1900, it was not uncommon in German&amp;nbsp;industrial manufacturing for businesses to collaborate with external artists and&amp;nbsp;designers in this manner. Not all of the individuals who foundries collaborated with&amp;nbsp;were &amp;ldquo;artists and designers;&amp;rdquo; for example, some were academics with experience&amp;nbsp;reading and writing other scripts. Nevertheless, all collaborators must have been able&amp;nbsp;to offer foundries knowledge that they did not already have institutionally, be that&amp;nbsp;linguistic or stylistic. Many collaborating designers would not have been aware of the&amp;nbsp;exact details regarding typeface manufacturing; they were not &amp;ldquo;insiders&amp;rdquo; in the&amp;nbsp;process, and could only have been responsible for part of a product&amp;rsquo;s final design. In&amp;nbsp;some cases, I believe it was more likely that the firms&amp;rsquo; punchcutter employees were the&amp;nbsp;ones responsible for bringing the products to their final forms, instead of the external&amp;nbsp;designers or foundry owners, directors, and other staff members. Yet at roughly the&amp;nbsp;same time that the foundries were beginning to ascribe product authorship to specific&amp;nbsp;individuals, these craftsmen &amp;ndash; who as a professional group had been physically&amp;nbsp;responsible for sculpting each typographic character to appear in print for centuries&amp;nbsp;&amp;ndash; were becoming redundant. New type-making machinery introduced from the 1870s&amp;nbsp;onward helped to make them obsolete. Punchcutters were not part of typefoundries&amp;rsquo;&amp;nbsp;twentieth-century brand identities, even though they were integral employees within&amp;nbsp;the organisations.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;By collaborating with external designers for the design of new printing types,&amp;nbsp;rather than continuing to entrust these entirely to their internal type-making staff,&amp;nbsp;German typefoundries supported the development of a new professional activity&amp;nbsp;during the early years of the graphic design profession: typeface design. The work that&amp;nbsp;external designers performed unfolded in an environment where it had already&amp;nbsp;become commonplace for the manufacturers of various goods to entrust the appearance of their products to &amp;ldquo;designers,&amp;rdquo; a new professional denomination primarily&amp;nbsp;made up of individuals trained in art academies or arts and crafts schools (Kunstgewerbeschulen).&amp;nbsp;Many type designers also came from that milieu. Some of the individuals&amp;nbsp;who designed printing types during the late nineteenth and early twentieth&amp;nbsp;centuries also designed books and magazines, as well as tables and chairs, tea services&amp;nbsp;and wine glasses &amp;ndash; even whole buildings. During that time, most of the type-making&amp;nbsp;workers inside of the foundries were anonymous to customers; they are also mostly&amp;nbsp;anonymous to historians who investigated them later, including myself. Their&amp;nbsp;anonymity was a result of the work they performed not being considered &amp;ldquo;worth&amp;nbsp;mentioning;&amp;rdquo; it was just handwork, not art or design. Despite the individual craftsmen&amp;nbsp;working inside typefoundries not being seen at the time as &amp;ldquo;authors&amp;rdquo; or &amp;ldquo;coauthors&amp;rdquo; of&amp;nbsp;the final products, their potential contributions should be added into future explanations&amp;nbsp;of typefaces&amp;rsquo; origins. I hope that my research will cause other writers to use a&amp;nbsp;more nuanced phraseology when it comes to the authorship of industrial-era foundry&amp;nbsp;types&amp;rsquo; designs. This kind of more-detailed specification may also be applicable to&amp;nbsp;other industrial goods produced in Germany during its Imperial period, as well as to&amp;nbsp;many of the typefaces produced in Germany and in other countries after 1914.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;I gathered the new information presented below, both so that it could be published&amp;nbsp;for the first time, as well as to prevent its being forgotten; it should remain visible for&amp;nbsp;future generations of designers and design historians to access. My findings may help&amp;nbsp;enrich the design history discipline&amp;rsquo;s understanding of the type-designing and&amp;nbsp;type-making practices in operation within industrial typefounding in imperial&amp;nbsp;Germany, explaining why German typefoundries during the late nineteenth and early&amp;nbsp;twentieth centuries began to collaborate with external artists and designers, instead of&amp;nbsp;continuing to develop new products entirely in-house.&lt;/p&gt;</dct:description>
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