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Volkspark Wilmersdorf

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on May 26th, 2019.

    Sign at Volkspark Wilmersdorf, a large municipal park in the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, and one of about sixteen “people’s parks” in Berlin. It’s a rather rare example of stenciled blackletter, certainly in the contemporary public space. The letterforms are custom made. However, the proportion and weight as well as structural details – e.g. the mix of straights and curves in a vs. o as well as in the capitals – suggest that they are modeled after an existing typeface: Rudolf Koch’s Fette Deutsche Schrift.

    I don’t know how old this sign is. The park was originally designed in 1912–1914 and remodeled several times, in 1935, 1945, 1960–1965, and 1986–1987, according to the Berlin Monument Authority. From 1917 to 1945, the park was named Hindenburgpark. Chances are the sign was made in the 1980s or even later, and the type style chosen in an attempt to refer to the period of construction – Deutsche Schrift was first issued in 1910 and enjoyed great popularity in the 1910s and 1920s. I doubt that stenciled blackletter signs were a common thing back then, though. It looks rather historicizing to me, but in a refreshingly punk way.

    Thank you for reminding me of this, Sonja!

    Resetting using a digital version, Alter Littera’s Deutsche Schrift. The angled terminal in p, the ascender in d, or the descender in f support the claim that Rudolf Koch’s typeface was the inspiration for the sign. Other details like the bottom of W or the shape of the i dot are off.
    Photo: Florian Hardwig. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Resetting using a digital version, Alter Littera’s Deutsche Schrift. The angled terminal in p, the ascender in d, or the descender in f support the claim that Rudolf Koch’s typeface was the inspiration for the sign. Other details like the bottom of W or the shape of the i dot are off.

    Volkspark Wilmersdorf 3
    Source: https://twitter.com Sonja Knecht. License: All Rights Reserved.

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