First edition of a detective novel featuring Scotland Yard’s Inspector Slade, penned by Leonard Gribble (1908–1985). The book was published by Doubleday, Doran and Co. for the Crime Club in 1930.
Neuland was first cast by the Gebr. Klingspor foundry in Offenbach, Germany, in 1923. Rudolf Koch’s rugged sans was a major hit with American book designers. Especially in the 1930s, its coarse letterforms appeared on numerous jacket designs. The designers didn’t always use Neuland directly. For one, being an overseas product, it was not exactly straightforward to obtain. Domestic foundries like Baltotype and Chicago cut copies, but my understanding is that that happened only later. In 1930, one had to place an order with the Continental Typefounders Association. Secondly, it was quicker and cheaper to simply render the letterforms by hand. After all, Neuland was advertised as a “hand cut design”, and, with its straight lines and integral inconsistencies, was easier to mimick than most other type styles.
The jacket for the Crime Club mystery is a case in point. All text surrounding the blood-red hand is manually drawn. It’s clear that Neuland was the direct inspiration, as one can see in the open C, the narrow S, the stemmed U, the diagonal terminals and other details. For the question at the bottom left, the unknown designer (who signed the work with “E”) invented matching lowercase letters.
Neuland was caps-only. Koch did start work on a lowercase, though. This version was never released by Klingspor. Only this year, Edvinas Žukauskas and Jérôme Knebusch included it in their Koch Grotesk, a faithful digital revival of all size-specific cuts of the original Neuland. Koch Grotesk was released by Poem in May 2023, just in time for the typeface’s centennial, together with a pamphlet featuring an essay by Dan Reynolds. Later today, at 4pm CET, Reynolds, Žukauskas and Knebusch will give a lecture at ENSAD Nancy, France. “Making/Remaking Neuland” will be livestreamed.
Not into lettering derived from typefaces? Fair enough. There are real fonts in this use, too: the green banderole features three typefaces, all of which were new at the time. The Bodoni on the spine part appears to be Monotype #375 from 1930. The fat style used for the title is Ultra Bodoni from 1928, both (adaptations of works) by Morris Fuller Benton. The geometric sans-serif caps look like they’re from Grobe Kabel (1928), another design by Koch. Considering the location and the fact that the other fonts are from Monotype, it may also be Monotype’s generically named copy, Sans Serif Bold (1930).