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Selling Hitler by Robert Harris (Pantheon Books)

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Nov 27th, 2020. Artwork published in .
    Selling Hitler by Robert Harris (Pantheon Books) 1
    Source: https://archive.org License: All Rights Reserved.

    Regular Fonts In Use contributor Jan Middendorp has submitted an article about the Spanish edition of Selling Hitler, featuring the Alarm typeface. This post is added in response: It’s about an older edition of the same book that, as Jan points out, uses the similar Fanfare.

    Robert Harris’s detailed account of the fake Hitler Diaries and the stir they caused in 1983 was originally published in Great Britain by Faber & Faber. These images show the first US edition, published by Pantheon Books in 1986. As it is often the case with books (or films) that deal with topics related to Nazi Germany, the designer picked a typeface that has a “blacklettery” feel to it, without actually belonging to this typeface genre. After all, proper frakturs and related styles can pose a readability issue – not only for American or Spanish readers, but since several decades also for the majority of Germans. That’s were hybrid typefaces like Alarm or Fanfare come in handy. They exhibit the dark color and broken strokes of blackletter, adding the desired tough “Teutonic” look, but are unadorned and adhere to the skeleton that’s familiar to readers of roman type. Fanfare was first cast by the Berthold foundry in 1927, in the period of the Weimar Republic. It was designed by Louis Oppenheim, a graphic artist of Jewish origin who died in 1936.

    For the title on the book jacket, the letterforms of Fanfare’s Condensed style were partly modified. The S that looks like a mirrored Z got a new form with diagonal top and bottom thirds, maybe to allude to the runic insignia of the SS. The lowercase g was equipped with a full descender – in the original, this letter barely reaches below the baseline. In H, the crossbar was replaced with a diamond that echoes the i dot (or is it also a visual pun referencing Hitler’s toothbrush moustache?). The secondary text is set in caps from Enge Block, a typeface that likewise originated at Berthold in the late 1920s. No designer is credited for the jacket design. The illustration seems to be signed by “S. Kelly”. In the 1980s, all the fonts shown in this post were available from Berthold Fototypes: In addition to the photo adaptations of the three Berthold originals, Weiß-Kapitale kräftig was carried under license from Neufville.

    The title page features Weiß-Kapitale kräftig. This cut was added around 1950 to the series that started as  at the Bauer foundry in 1931.
    Source: https://archive.org License: All Rights Reserved.

    The title page features Weiß-Kapitale kräftig. This cut was added around 1950 to the series that started as Weiß-Initialen at the Bauer foundry in 1931.

    The blurb on the back combines a red drop cap from Fanfare with text set in  Medium. Drawn by Erik Spiekermann in 1979, it’s a revival of what used to go as the halbfett style of the Block series.
    Source: https://archive.org License: All Rights Reserved.

    The blurb on the back combines a red drop cap from Fanfare with text set in Berliner Grotesk Medium. Drawn by Erik Spiekermann in 1979, it’s a revival of what used to go as the halbfett style of the Block series.

    Typefaces

    • Fanfare
    • Berthold Block
    • Berliner Grotesk
    • Weiß-Initialen

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