In my opinion, the relevance of the Grotesk typology in the context of the birth and early development of the sanserif has perhaps been underestimated by a historiographic tradition focused on Anglo-American achievements. Some indications:
– Most sources agree that William Thorowgood released the first sanserif lowercase in 1834. Nevertheless, it seems that the Schelter & Giesecke foundry (Leipzig) had produced a light sans serif with both capitals and lower case letters by 1825. (Source: Lawson, Anatomy of a Typeface, p. 297). I find this doubtful, but if proven, this face would be not only prior to Thorowgood´s (and even Figgins') but far more sophisticated.
– The Grotesk typefaces were used in the nineteenth century for setting body text (namely in scientific and technical publications), long before the american gothics left display and jobbing as their exclusive tasks. (Source: http://www.typolexikon.de/g/grotesk.html)
– Looking at specimens from late nineteenth century, one finds a very remarkable level (for the time) of formal development, and perhaps even a tendency towards systematization and coordination of weights and sizes. (Source: Schelter&Giesecke specimen, c.1898)
Any argument or contribution is more than welcome. I´d like also to pose these questions to the forum:
1. When did the first Grotesk appear in Germany?
2. Which typeface would be the first in including a lowercase in that country (if the Lawson statement is erroneous)?
3. When did the sanserif started to be used as a text face there?
Thank you very much,