Old type specimens on DVD

The DVD, the first of many to come, I hope!

spatium Magazin (without an e) in Germany has just released a DVD containing a collection of ca. 3,000 images scanned from the pages of a myriad of 20th century German type foundry catalogs and specimen. The news announcements and forum discussions so far have all been in German. This offer is so good that it deserves an English translations. So here goes…

This roundup by Hans Reichardt is the first of a series of four DVDs illustrating the diversity and beauty of type specimens and reflecting technical advances made in the printing industry during the 20th century. Included are scans of type specimen cards, brochures, and catalogs from various foundries, such as Bauer, Klingspor, Ludwig & Mayer, Stempel, C. E. Weber, Berthold, Genzsch & Heyse, Joh. Wagner, Flinsch, Schelter & Gieseke, and many more. In addition, books like Seemann’s Handbuch der Schriftarten, Abraham Horodisch’s Die Schrift im schönen Buch unserer Zeit, and Emil Wetzig’s Ausgewählte Druckschriften in Alphabeten are among the DVD’s images as well.

A detailed table of contents may be downloaded as a PDF: bleisatz_d_inhalt_web.pdf (28 kb)…

An image from the DVD collection.
From the type specimen for “Energos,” Schriftguss Dresden.

All in all, this represents a collection of true treasures that are sure to serve as eye candy and inspiration for interested typeface designers and typographers. The DVD is available via the spatium shop for 20 euros (plus shipping). A few samples from the collection are pictured in this post.

An image from the DVD collection.
Sample from a type specimen index card, problem published by Verlag Klimsch, 1930s.

An image from the DVD collection.
Title page of Benjamin Krebs Nachf. specimen book, Frankfurt/Main.

An image from the DVD collection.
“Langschrift,” from the Flinsch foundry, Frankfurt/Main.

An image from the DVD collection.
Decorative initials for “Liturgisch,” Klingspor foundry, Offenbach/Main.

An image from the DVD collection.
Decorative initials for “Kleukens,” Bauer type foundry, Frankfurt/Main.

An image from the DVD collection.
Type specimen for non-Latin scripts can be found in the past, too. Here is a page from a Stempel foundry brochure for “Arabic, Turkish, and other Islamic languages.”

All images on the DVD are saved at 150 dpi resolution. Orders may be placed directly through the spatium Shop. The site is in German, too, but I’m sure that they can respond and help to e-mails written in English. Please contact spatium directly with any questions about this excellent product.

Three further DVDs are said to be in the pipeline. Aside from German 20th century metal typefaces, future releases will feature international 20th century metal typefaces, international photo typefaces, and international 20th century digital typefaces. Stay turned for more information about these releases when they come to market.


  1. I was just wondering, is 150dpi enough for a serious study?

  2. Dan Reynolds 8 June 2008 at 11:39

    Well, it depends what you mean by serious study. Can you use these as the basis for new typeface designs or revivals? I bet not.

    But having 150 dpi of a broad selection of 20th century German specimen is extremely useful. These documents were well designed (and classified). So they offer a lot of information there. Basically, if they are being used for anything other than letter drawing, they should be fine.

    I haven’t seen them yet. I placed an order, but it is being shipped to an address of mine in Germany. I won’t get a chance to actually look at it then until the end of July.

  3. On one hand the resolution seems quite reasonable. It is good-enough for viewing (twice as much as a generic screen resolution). On the other hand, what if I want to use it in a printed document or blow up some detail (not really doing a revival, but looking for how the inktrap was done for example). It might be even worse with the non-Latins and their (vowel) marks. I guess, it is more about the documents themselves and about getting the typefaces’ impression. I am quite excited anyway. :) Probably ordering.

  4. Dan Reynolds 9 June 2008 at 11:33

    Hurray up! I’m told that the run is already more than half sold out.

    One thing I’ll use these for may be deciding which printed specimen to search out, i.e., if I want to use a certain image in print, I could quickly flip through these images, pick ones I like, and then try to track the real thing down.

  5. As I understand it, this selection is supposed to allow you to study the typography of the specimens rather than the lettershapes themselves.
    The images are extremely compressed and show strong jpeg “ripples” and/or blur, making the quality effectively less than 150 dpi. The quantity is impressive, though.

  6. Done this way, it seems to me mostly useful for what Dan says, “lip through these images, pick ones I like, and then try to track the real thing down”. 150ppi is pretty useless, and if they are heavily compressed, like Tim says, they are just for documentation. But again, being a selection, I still miss the point. They are not complete catalogs.

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