and its masters

Hermann Zapf
Hermann Zapf







Hermann Zapf was born in Nuremburg, Germany in 1918.  He designed some of the greatest typestyles of the 20th century.  His greatest inspiration came from Rudolph Koch's work at an exhibition in Nuremberg in1935.  Using texts from Koch and Edward Johnston he taught himself calligraphy at home.  In 1938 after his apprenticeship was completed he went to Frankfurt without a journeyman's certificate and found a position working for Paul Koch(son of Rudolph Koch)at his workshop. It was in 1938 that he designed his first type called "Gilgengart" for the D. Stempel AG Type Foundry.

After the war the political climate was such that it was hard to get work, especially in teaching.  He taught his first calligraphy lesson in Nuremberg in 1946 and under primitive conditions.  In 1947 he went back to the Stempel Foundry as the head of the inhouse printshop.  In 1951 he met and married his wife, Gudron von Hesse, also a noted type designer and calligrapher in her own right.  

His main work over the years was as a graphic artist involved in book design and out of principle did no advertising art. Throughout the 1960's and 1970's he was a freelance graphic designer.  In 1972 he created the Macaroni typeface, designed specifically for digital use.  During the 70's and 80's he taught ten years of special sessions at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y..  His most important areas of expertise came in the development of different types, such as Palatino, Optim, Optima, Michaelangelo, Melior, Zapf Chancery,etc..., alphabets for hot metal composition, then for phototyping, and finally the digital revolution.  He was a genius in solving technical problems along side engineers and provided a standard of typographic excellence for the next generation of type designers.

click here
for the Zapf font library
click here for Hermann Zapf at work on his calligraphy

Example of Zapf Calligraphy

An example of Zapf calligraphy


The Linotype Library life story of Hermann Zapf

The many faces of Hermann Zapf by Carol Mahoney 1998

A letter from Hermann Zapf to the Caxton Club of Chicago

Zapf: A biography


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Jill Weinstein