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Venus Motorroller

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Jan 25th, 2015. Artwork published in
circa 1955
    Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

    This German scooter ad from the 1950s uses a rather remarkable typeface that has fallen into oblivion — Prägefest by Eduard Lautenbach (Ludwig & Mayer, 1926). The eyecatching bold script was not the very first one of its kind — Adscript, Typo Upright Bold, and, more directly, Lautenbach’s own Markant (also Ludwig & Mayer, 1909) are among the forerunners. Yet it certainly sparked a trend in German typefounding, see Phänomen and Bernhard Handschrift (1927), Mammut (1928), Wolfram (1930), Signal, Salut and Lautsprecher (1931), or Achtung and Energos (1932). In his Letterpress Memories*, Georg Kandler writes:

    Prägefest started a new chapter in the production of script typefaces. Following the cursive scripts — with letters connected by joining strokes — that hitherto were limited to delicate applications, Prägefest dares a leap into the broad field of advertising. Robust and without overhangs, with sturdy strokes, it was […] outstandingly suited to the typesetting of ads, in which its tenacity played a crucial role for impressing the cardboard mats.

    Latter is a step in the stereotyping process. This quality gave the typeface its name: prägefest is German for “impressing-proof”. Stempel had the same design as Reklame Handschrift (“advertising handwriting”). For markets abroad, Ludwig & Mayer came up with a less descriptive and more poetic name — Samson Script.

    A few years later, in 1931, Monotype made a typeface that is different in most details, but very close in the overall appearance. This Series 322 is credited to Fritz Max Steltzer and is simply named Script, or Script Bold, and, in the U.S., Broad-Stroke Cursive. The digital revival is known as Monotype Script, or Script MT. According to Monotype, the design is “based on early twentieth-century German script writing styles”, but the features in common with Prägefest are striking. Eduard Lautenbach didn’t live to see this me-too release — he died in 1927, one year after his Prägefest was released.

    * Alphabete. Erinnerungen an den Bleisatz. Kornwestheim: Minner-Verlag, 1995. My translation.

    Source: Georg Kraus. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Character set of Prägefest — image courtesy of the late Georg Kraus AKA Bleisetzer. Kandler: “Another novelty was the relocation of the lowercase entry strokes onto the cap sorts, avoiding annoying overhangs.” Apart from the variants with high and low connector, the font includes alternates for ‘r’ and ‘M’; swash terminal forms for ‘g’, ‘n’, ‘r’, ‘t’; ligatures for ‘Sch’ (a common German trigraph, with a different ‘S’), ‘Cie’ (Compagnie) and ‘Co’ (Company). A different specimen additionally shows an alternate ‘H’ with closed top loop, a non-descending ‘P’ with minimal bowl, and ligatures for ‘ch’, ‘ck’, ‘ff’, ‘ss’.

    License: All Rights Reserved.

    Monotype Script (digital version), for comparison: Contrast is slightly higher, bottom terminals in ‘m’ and ‘n’ are flat, counters of ‘a’, ‘d’, ‘g’ are round, ‘z’ has no crossbar, ‘c’ is more closed, ‘u’ is wider, ‘g’ has a bigger loop, ‘k’ is open and has a more vertical leg. The spacing is less even, most notably in the gap after ‘s’.


    • Prägefest
    • Berthold-Grotesk



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    In Sets

    3 Comments on “Venus Motorroller”

    1. Jan 25th, 2015  9:10 pm

      Nice history, Flo! I always wanted to know more about the origin of Monotype Script.

    2. Jan 25th, 2015  10:18 pm

      I’d like to see what Monotype Script Light (Series 475) looks like. Do you know of a sample?

    3. Jan 1st, 2017  9:58 pm

      The feature “Making headlines: printing the Guardian newspaper, 1921–1987” by Emma Golding has some great images from the GNM Archive showing the process of stereotyping.

      Once a page had been set and corrected it would be covered with a thick sheet of paper (known as a flong) and an impression taken under immense pressure. From the flong a curved metal plate (known as a stereotype plate) would be moulded by the stereo department.

      The stereo department were responsible for transforming flongs (the paper moulds of typeset pages) into curved metal stereotype plates which would be fitted to presses to print the newspaper. Multiple plates could be made from one typeset page and they were fairly durable under the presses.

      Before a stereotype plate could be cast each flong had to be carefully inspected for defects by an examiner. Flongs were then placed in casting boxes and molten metal was pumped in and set to create the curved stereotype plate. After casting, plates would go into a shaving machine to achieve the desired thickness to be used to print the newspaper.

      In the machine room, the stereotype plates would be placed onto high speed rotary presses ready for printing the page onto paper.

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