Saturday, September 19, 2009

Heil Hikler

The paean to Wilhelm-Klingspor-Schrift was occasioned by seeing this bookjacket for A History of Modexn Gexmany: The Reformation by Hajo Holborn (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1959) a few weeks ago. I was immediately struck by its spelling. In the calligraphic portion of the title Guy Fleming, the book and jacket designer, had ignorantly substituted x for r in both Modern and Germany. How this escaped the German author is anyone’s guess, though it is not surprising that the American publisher was unaware of the faux pas. 

The mistake reminded me immediately of a book which I saw in the 1980s at Barnes & Noble. It was a biography of that famous German leader, Adolf Hikler! The designer had, in this case, mistaken a k in a blackletter font for a decorative form of t. (See the k in Wilhelm-Klingspor-Schrift to see how easy this can happen to those unfamiliar with blackletter and why Adobe/Linotype and Stephen Miggas both sought to modernize the letter.) 

In turn, the Hikler (sic) biography reminded me of Wilhelmschrift by Stephen Miggas which I had only recently come across on the My Fonts website and how appalled I was to see his solution for this problem: using the tz ligature as a substitute. Go ahead and modernize the archaic characters in blackletter fonts, but do so with a firm knowledge of the calligraphic basis behind these typefaces. And make sure you know what the characters actually are.  

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