Typographische Mitteilungen, vol. 17, No. 7, July 1920
1 Comment on “Typographische Mitteilungen, vol. 17, No. 7, July 1920”
Thank you for your lovely contribution, Kirsten!
Feder-Grotesk is a fascinating typeface. I have no hard proof, but I’m convinced that the name refers to Feder as in quill or pen, alluding to the high contrast that is atypical for a Grotesk. Ludwig & Mayer also had a Feder-Antiqua in their library, drawn by a different artist and first cast in 1911. This design is not directly related, but it also exhibits a distinct vertical contrast, emulating a (broad-nib) pen.
Feder-Grotesk comes with a narrower alternate ‘C’. This glyph is used for the ‘CH’ and ‘CK’ pairs in “Buchdrucker”, but not in the three instances of the ‘SCH’ trigraph. Chances are it was mainly employed to get a nicely balanced alignment, with a short last line. The tighter spacing suggests this as well.
There are two digitizations of the regular weight of Feder-Grotesk, Federo (Olexa Volochay for Cyreal, 2011) and Romanovsky (Vasily Biryukov for ParaType, 2013). The latter is loosely based on a Russian typeface cast in 1910 by the Lehmann foundry in St. Petersburg, with the Latin part derived from Feder-Grotesk. The brief comparison above shows that Federo (2) has narrower glyphs, but a looser spacing than the original (1 – taken from a large 84p showing). It has more compact extenders. Its ‘a’ and ‘e’ are less faithful to Erbar’s design than the digital Romanovsky (3), which in turn clearly deviates in ‘i’ or ‘g’ (among other glyphs not shown here). Romanovsky is even more open in the spacing. The last line shows Sonrisa Regular (CastleType, 2011), which is only indirectly related to Feder-Grotesk: It is part of a 7-weight family built upon “the skeletal structure of Jakob Erbar’s Koloss”. Koloss was originally released by Ludwig & Mayer in 1923 and advertised as the extrabold companion to Feder-Grotesk. Oddly enough, the extrabold italic was not named Koloss-Kursiv, but Feder-Kursiv (1925).
To my knowledge, there is no digitization of the bold weight of Feder-Grotesk as used on this cover (1). The closest option is Romanovsky Bold by Olexa Volochay (2). It is lighter and wider, with several details off, see ‘G’ or ‘P’. Sonrisa Bold (3) has the right weight, but is essentially a condensed version.