The Most Popular Typeface Design: Frank-Reuhl

gohebrew's picture

Frank-Reuhl was a collaboration between a great type designer, and his punch-cutter parter.

Over the years, many versions and weights have appeared.

Here are some examples:

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Linotype-Merganthaler created a series of Frank-Reuhl typefaces, specific to different point sizes. Since the advent of PostScript and scalable font technology, point specific designs have disappeared from the realm of typography.

GoHebrew is reviving point specific designs. Here is an example of GHB Lino-Nine. GH stands for GoHebrew. B stands for Biblical Hebrew: dagesh, nikud, meteg, and taam. Nine is for nine points.

gohebrew's picture

Another popular version of Frankrul was designed for computer-based typesetting, by the now defunct Varityper corporation, makers of expensive mini-computer based phototypesetting equipment. Typefaces were held on discs, and projected by a lens-attached camera and light sensitive film.

Although the company disappeared, another new design of Frankrul exists today.

gohebrew's picture

Another popular design is this FrankReuhl:

Chajmke's picture

I am a little confused: Is FrankReuhl a "random" name? In order not to clash with the original name, Frank-Ruehl?

gohebrew's picture

Frank-Reuhl is a composite name of two people: Frank, the type designer, and Reuhl, the punch-cutter (the one who implemented the design into metal type, by cutting the metal into a punch - a skill no longer needed or even known how to do well. Often, the talented punch-cutter modified the design a little, so the type would print better.

Frank-Reuhl had different names given to it by different vendors. Today, we have many different designs of Frank-Reuhl. To make referring to them, I have slightly modified their spelling to correctly identify them all.

If you look in a different blog in this section, you will examples of Mr. Frank's original design. I implemented it in the 1987 in PostScript Type 3, but can not find it. Most Frank-Reuhl designs come from the fifties, sixties, or seventies.

Linotype did the most innovative work about forty years ago, by creating size specific versions of Frank-Reuhl (and Times-Roman), I believe by Matthew Carter, the great type designer.

gohebrew's picture

Oh, hi, by the way.

I looked at the icon first.

Chajmke's picture

This why I am confused. The name of the punch cutter was Carl Friedrich Rühl - so to avoid the umlaut, we would write Carl Friedrich Ruehl and the complete name of the company was »C. Rühls Schrift- und Stereotypen-Gießerei, Stempelschneiderei, Xylographie und Galvanoplastik« (impressing, isn't it?).
So Reuhl makes no sense... The punch cutter also made some other typefaces...

But, by the way. The font is written פרנק-ריהל in hebrew, it should be פרנק-רויל(Reuhl) otherwise ;-)

So, I had the impression, it is called Frank-Reuhl to avoid any legal issues.

Chajmke's picture

Yes, I changed my icon. Just to have some kind corporate identity :-)

gohebrew's picture

There are no legal issues according to secular laws anywhere.

I used to spell the Reuhl part with the 'u' before the 'e' years ago, but most people had a pronunciation problem with Ruehl, making the 'h' too distinguished, as 'rue-hl' versus 'reuh-l'. Plus, others spelled it 'Reuhl'. So, I conformed.

I would like to see Carl Friedrich Ruehl's typefaces.

In truth, today the punch-cutter contribution is meaningless. We keep Carl Friedrich Ruehl's name for history's sake.

Do you have Frank (or Fronk)'s drawings before Ruehl created type from them?


The logo is very good. The eye sees it, and identifies the person with the blog post quickly. It was just difficult at first to put two and two together, as we say. Likely, I will from now on.

Chajmke's picture

Do you have Frank (or Fronk)'s drawings before Ruehl created type from them?

As far as I know, there are no more notes from Frank, except the »Über hebräische Typen und Schriftarten« book. All his brothers were murdered, so there was nobody who took care of his work.

I would like to see Carl Friedrich Ruehl's typefaces.

There are examples of some of his fonts in

gohebrew's picture

Where are they? I looked and looked...

Yotam's picture

Linotype did the most innovative work about forty years ago, by creating size specific versions of Frank-Reuhl (and Times-Roman), I believe by Matthew Carter

That is interesting, I didn't know about it. Any idea where can I read more about M. Carter's design for FR?

gohebrew's picture

First, i never saw this documented. but in person in hauppage brooklyn, they showed me samples of times by the head type guy from germany.

i have the 3 lino versions of frankrul. see above lino-nine.

matthrew carter gave his digitation of le be to scott-martin kesofsky. ask him, he's here.

gohebrew's picture

now i digitized a 4th style of frankrul from a great type designer from mass. carter could be him, as he was there. although not jewish, he loves hebrew, like many non-jews.

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Look at the letters, which were designed to produce good results at a small point size.

Now, Matthew Carter was commissioned many years later to make the FrankReuhl design for special use for a Varityper photo-typesetting machine or an earlier non-Linotype machine. This version of Linotype Frankrul was fascinating, because it combined many of the features and nuances of the three Linotype designs into one design.

I digitized that in 1989. I haven't found this yet, though my customer has it.

Notice that the left side bottom, leg of the Aleph is lifted up a bit by the bottom of the heel. This was a master type design, for it cause the eye of the reader to advance. This is known as good eye movement.

gohebrew's picture

Look at the Aleph from LinoNine:

Now, look at the Gimmel from RommNine:

The students of Bodoni (makers of Romm Vilna for the Talmud etc.) created the bottom right of the Gimmel in the same way. A small white space.

Interestingly, they did this also by the Reish, but not for the Daled.

John Hudson's picture

Re. 'LinoNine': what happened to the descending tail of ayin? It is so much heavier than any other stroke, and lacks definition: it looks like the bottom of the letter has been dipped in melted chocolate.

gohebrew's picture


I work from originals that came from photocopies of small 9 point type, photo-enlarged about x 15 +/-.

But the melted chocolate was not that thick.

The intent of the designer was that the descending element was similar to the thick horizontal bar of many other letters, such as the samech and the peh.

The thickness, more than the thickness of the horizontal bar of other letter may be attributed to ink spread.

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