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Ratskeller Frankfurt

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Dec 14th, 2019.
Ratskeller Frankfurt 1
Source: Steve Collis. License: CC BY.

Carmina is the typeface used for the signs of the Ratskeller in Frankfurt am Main. It was in this city that Gudrun von Hesse started her career. In 1946, she opened her own bookbinding shop and began teaching calligraphy at the local Städelschule. It was also in Frankfurt that she met Hermann Zapf, whom she married in 1951.

In 1984, Matthew Carter commissioned Frau Zapf-von Hesse to design a new typeface for digital typesetting, to be issued by Bitstream Inc. By this time, in addition to her achievements as calligrapher and bookbinder, she was an accomplished type designer and had already released typefaces for metal (Diotima, Smaragd, Ariadne) and photo typesetting (Shakespeare). Zapf-von Hesse drew the Light and Black styles, in roman and italic. Two intermediate weights were produced via interpolation. The family was released in 1986 as Carmina.

The signs shown here use two of Carmina’s weights, the Bold and the Black. The Ratskeller is a restaurant in Frankfurt’s city hall, also known as the Römer. Until 2015, it served as canteen for the staff of the city council, and has been disused since.

Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse passed away at the age of 101. Rest in peace.

Ratskeller Frankfurt 2
Source: Don Claudio, Vienna. License: All Rights Reserved.
Ratskeller Frankfurt 3
Source: Maki. License: All Rights Reserved.


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1 Comment on “Ratskeller Frankfurt”

  1. For more insights into the life and work of Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse, see Ferdinand Ulrich’s talk at TYPO Berlin 2016 (in German). Schriftanalysen 2 by Max Caflisch (St. Gallen: Typotron, 2003) contains an illustrated article about her typeface designs (also in German).

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