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Antik Galerie, Darmstadt

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Apr 19th, 2021.
    Antik Galerie, Darmstadt 1
    Source: https://www.flickr.com Uploaded to Flickr by Florian Hardwig and tagged with “rhapsodie”. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Rhapsodie in use for the sign of Antik Galerie, an antique shop in Darmstadt, Germany.

    This typeface, which can be categorized as an upright cursive fraktur or a bastarda, is remarkable in two regards. Rhapsodie was first cast by Ludwig & Mayer in Frankfurt am Main (just 35 km north of Darmstadt) in 1951. At that time, it was one of only a handful of typefaces designed by women. It’s the work of Ilse Schüle. Born in 1903 as Ilse Bentel, the designer studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Stuttgart with F.H. Ernst Schneidler, worked as his assistant and started teaching at that school herself, too. After becoming the mother of twins in 1930 she continued her work as freelance graphic artist and designed numerous book jackets and covers for Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt. Ilse Schüle died in 1997. Rhapsodie is her only published typeface design. About the only other women-designed typefaces available in Germany in the early 1950s were Elizabeth by Elizabeth Friedlander, Diotima and Smaragd by Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse, Ballé-Initialen by Maria Ballé, and Montan by Anna Maria Schildbach.

    Rhapsodie is also a rare example for a blackletter design issued as foundry type after World War II. The other contemporary German releases in this classification group that I can think of were started before 1945 – and before the infamous Schrifterlass from 1941 in which the Nazis defamed blackletter as a Jewish conspiracy, effectively banning fraktur and related styles from official use – and only picked up again after the end of the Nazi regime. This includes Hermann Zapf’s Gilgengart (1950, designed in 1939–1940) and Hans Kühne’s Kühne-Schrift (1954, conceived before 1941). I don’t know when Kühne’s Andreas-Schrift (1948/1954) was started.

    With its capitals that are less intricate than many other fraktur typefaces, Rhapsodie is easily readable even for people not accustomed to blackletter. The design with relatively wide proportions and long extenders is accompanied by a second set of decorated swash capitals. These are stylistically even closer to roman cursive forms, see e.g. A, G, M, V, or Z, and were also utilized for the Antik-Galerie sign.

    Glyph set with swash caps from a 20-page type specimen booklet, published by the Ludwig & Mayer foundry in Frankfurt am Main. The caps are separated by dingbats from Schüle-Schmuck, a set of ornaments that accompanied Rhapsodie.
    Source: https://www.flickr.com Scan courtesy of Carsten Jegminat. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Glyph set with swash caps from a 20-page type specimen booklet, published by the Ludwig & Mayer foundry in Frankfurt am Main. The caps are separated by dingbats from Schüle-Schmuck, a set of ornaments that accompanied Rhapsodie.

    Calligraphy sample (“Geschriebene deutsche Schrift”) by Ilse Bentel. Reproduced in Gebrauchsgraphik, vol. 2, no. 1 from 1925, a special issue about “Schrift und Schriftschreiber”, as part of a series of works that originated at the Kunstgewerbeschule Stuttgart.
    Source: https://magazines.iaddb.org Scan courtesy of IADDB. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Calligraphy sample (“Geschriebene deutsche Schrift”) by Ilse Bentel. Reproduced in Gebrauchsgraphik, vol. 2, no. 1 from 1925, a special issue about “Schrift und Schriftschreiber”, as part of a series of works that originated at the Kunstgewerbeschule Stuttgart.

    Certificate with calligraphy by Ilse Schüle, featuring a style that can be regarded as a precursor of Rhapsodie. Reproduced in Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, vol. 71, no. 11 from 1934, a special issue dedicated to “young German book artists”. The certificate’s text is tainted by the nationalist pathos of 1930s Germany. Issued in the name of the Prime Minister of Württemberg, it congratulates parents to the birth of their seventh daughter (an attitude that later materialized in the Mutterkreuz) and wishes that “she and all her siblings may grow up to be brave Germans”.
    Source: https://magazines.iaddb.org Scan courtesy of IADDB. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Certificate with calligraphy by Ilse Schüle, featuring a style that can be regarded as a precursor of Rhapsodie. Reproduced in Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, vol. 71, no. 11 from 1934, a special issue dedicated to “young German book artists”. The certificate’s text is tainted by the nationalist pathos of 1930s Germany. Issued in the name of the Prime Minister of Württemberg, it congratulates parents to the birth of their seventh daughter (an attitude that later materialized in the Mutterkreuz) and wishes that “she and all her siblings may grow up to be brave Germans”.

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