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1901 Rounded Sans ID & Research

As part of my research for the revival project at Type@Cooper, I found this printed specimen online (preview attached) with a great rounded sans titled Breite runde Grotesk.

It is sourced as from "Schriftproben, C.G. Naumann, 1901". This is a printer's book and I'm looking for both more info (foundry/designer/context) and for a better specimen (full alpha at least).

Thanks everyone,


The typeface is patterned on Round Gothic, which appeared in the ATF syndicate's type specimen books around 1884. The ATF version was bolder and more condensed, but the letterforms are unmistakably the same. I will be coming out with a font based on the original next month.

@ Nick:
What exactly convinces you that Breite Runde Grotesk is ‘patterned on Round Gothic’? I see a lot of differences between Round Gothic and the sample Aaron posted.

Hi I've scanned the specimen in a higher resolution — this might help for id. The origin is from a German printer specimen so I don't belive you will find it in american type foundry specimens. I've flipped though mines without avail.


@ Nick, Thanks for sharing, I see similarity now that you mention it, I had some specimen sheets with Round Gothic and hadn't connected the two.

@ nike, thanks for the continued help, this scan is fantastic!

What exactly convinces you that Breite Runde Grotesk is ‘patterned on Round Gothic’? I see a lot of differences between Round Gothic and the sample Aaron posted.

There are differences--as I noted, weight and width--but the underlying structure is quite similar.

Jörg, there is a typeface from around that time called Schmale Runde Grotesk, similar to the one Nick’s working on.
See http://www.typophile.com/node/29138 and http://typophile.com/files/runde_6377.jpg

As noted in the linked thread there is a digital version by lineto:
(The lineto versions seems different from the one from A.-G. für Schriftgießerei und Messinglinien Offenbach and it’s said that it was based on a ‘Berthold Schmale Runde Grotesk’.)

I think it’s hard to tell which one was created earlier unless someone could point out the exact dates of release.

For some interesting infos on rounded Grotesks see also:

@aarhaus thanks! Those are some great resources. That DIN Round documentation is great reading.

I'm going to continue the hunt for more info and images of Breite Runde Grotesque. I think it's interesting that it is a full-width type and has some curious proportions. I particularly love the numerals.

Any experts in turn-of-the-last-century German type have some good specimen books?

Oh, great links, aarhaus.
Hm, I stand corrected in terms of similarities then. I didn’t see the thin joints in your FontLab screenshot, Nick.
I doubt it’s safe to say which one is patterned on the other one though. This is aggravated by the fact that a lot of 19th century type specimen had no date on them.

BTW, great scans and specimen photos on flickr, nike! Aaron, have you checked nike’s flickr albums? There are some real treasures to be found there.

Aaron, if you’re looking for some good examples of type specimen books (and cannot get your hands on the originals) I recommend these two books:


Although I remember being slightly disappointed by the accompanying texts these are well-crafted books, lovingly presenting great turn-of-the-last-century typefaces, with a considerable proportion of German ones.
And inside of each book there’s a code which allows you to download hi-res and -quality scans of the original type specimen books.

@aarhaus I actually discovered this sample looking over nike's flickr collection. It jumped out as quite unusual. It's the only place I've found it at all. Thanks for the tips! I have the first volume of the Taschen book, might have to finally and get the second. The DIN Round PDF sort of dances right around this sample, I suppose it's too round to have mentioned.

The company C.G. Naumann wasn't actually a typefoundry but a Leipzig printer and publisher at the turn of the century. So in this book they probably show typefaces they had on offer for printing and bought from other manufacturers.
Either the Deutsche Bibliothek in Leipzig or Klingspor Museum in Offenbach might have more material, the latter at least owns the best collection of specimen books I know of.
Maybe you want to contact somebody there or the best expert in German type history, especially Grotesk cases I know: Eckehart Schumacher-Gebler. If you want I can email or DM you contact information.

What astonishes me is that I couldn't find the typeface in Seemann’s »Handbuch der Schriftarten«—the most important specimen of almost all typefaces and all foundries available at that time. But I only had a super brief look.

@kupfers, I really appreciate you looking and offering the connection. I'd love to be in touch with Eckehart, I'm messaging you through typophile if that's OK.

Cute new avatar, Indra.

I love investigations like this ...

Just now I see that aarhaus posted a link to a scan from the »Seemann« already.
Indeed, there's only the Schmale runde Grotesk included. But since we now find this typeface stated as being cast by Bauer & Co, Aktiengesellschaft für Schriftgießerei und Maschinenbau Offenbach (both taken over by Berthold later) and J. John Söhne Hamburg, I guess that the matrices were purchased from the same manufacturer, likely Wagner & Schmidt, Leipzig, and then cast almost identically by the different foundries.
Same can be the case with Breite runde, only that I don't find it in any specimen I have.

The picture from the Naumann book shows Breite magere Grotesk by Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig on the opposite left side and also the strange Columbus some pages before was cast by them. So maybe Breite runde came from S&G as well, or at least from another Leipzig foundry?
Well, I think I'll just contact Eckehart and cc you. Don't know how good he is at English correspondence.

((Frode: thanks, still have to get accustomed to suddenly appear so colourful here. It's taken from my twitter but I'll likely get back to the standard placeholder T sooner or later.))

Oh please don't. I'd rather have an actual portrait.

Here you go, Frode :)


Aaron, we are bursting with curiosity!