Who designed Monotype Ehrhardt?

Max Phillips's picture

Does anyone know who designed Monotype Ehrhardt? The Monotype site simply credits "Monotype Design Studio". Sebastian Carter's _Twentieth Century Type Designers_ says that Stanley Morison directed the Monotype Drawing Office to tweak up a proprietary version of Janson, but Ehrhardt has certain idiosyncratic details--most notably the curved crossbar of the A--which seem out of character for Morison. It does seem like a particular designer with a particular personality worked on this one. Anyone know who?

Many thanks,


ncaleffi's picture

There's an interesting essay on Monotype Ehrhardt by Harry Carter in a reprint of Stanley Morison's "A Tally of Types"; there, Carter tells the story of that typeface revival, stating, among other things, that the "Nonesuch Press had a case or two of the 14-point (Didot) [Ehrhardt] in its cellar and set a few small books in it from 1927 onwards. Some of the Nonesuch fount eventually found its way to Cambridge [to Monotype] ... The type was favoured enough to make the American Linotype and Monotype companies cut it for their machines ... Both completed their series in 1937". Carter doesn't quote any specific designer or punch-cutters, but adds that in 1937 Morison started working on a "different treatment" of the type, named "Series 453", which in the ned, in Carter's words, resulted in "an exercise in making a Fleischman out of a Kis". Again, there's no mention of any cutter. So it seems that the first Monotype version was faithfully based on the Nonesuch Press cut, while the second one was more an interpretation given by Morison? Anyway, I suggest to everyone to get copy of "A Tally of Types", it is a wonderfully written and beautifully typeset book, even if one doesn't agree with Morison's vision or statements.

dan_reynolds's picture

I think that it is a false assumption to say that all typefaces have "a designer." Monotype Ehrhardt, as well as many other typefaces that came out of machine-setting company drawing offices in the early part of the 20th century, are excellent team efforts.

RadioB's picture

I was once reading the book 'the good soldier svejk' and it was set in monotype ehrhardt... I remember I did some research and found out who it was designed by.. but i completely forgot his name and the book I found it in :<, I'll do a quick check later on tonight, all I remember is he was Hungarian, I remember that detail because the story is set in Austria-Hungary during ww1 so I thought that was the reason they chose a typeface designed by a Hungarian.

Si_Daniels's picture

I pointed Robin Nicholas to this thread. He may have some inside info.

John Hudson's picture

all I remember is he was Hungarian

This is almost certainly a reference to Miklós (Nicholas) Tótfalusi Kis, the 17th Century Hungarian punchcutter who studied and worked for a time in Amsterdam. Erhardt is inspired by Kis' types, but it is not a direct revival of any one of them.

Martin Majoor's picture

I know there is a titling typeface from 1967 to accompany Ehrhardt. The Monotype Corporation named it Fleet Titling (Series 632) and it was designed by British designer John Peters (1917- 1989). He also designed Angelus 1953, Castellar 1957 and Traveller 1964. Fleet Titling also includes the same curved crossbar in the A, like in Ehrhardt.

I don't know why it was called Fleet. Maybe because in 1904 Monotype took offices at 43 Fetter Lane, off Fleet Street in London. But some 20 years ago I also saw a picture of a van that Monotype used to conduct their business. The lettering on these vans (the fleet, there you are) was done in Fleet Titling.

There must be someone who knows more about Fleet Titling.

Max Phillips's picture

Thanks, everyone. Martin, thanks in particular for that reference to Fleet Titling. Can't find it in any of my old metal specimen books, but since they're mostly American, I'm not that surprised.

Dan, I certainly don't assume that all typefaces have single designers. But the old Monotype Drawing Office was famously uptight--Eric Gill used to complain that they'd replace his waisted stems with ruler-straight ones because straight lines are neater--and I just can't see one of those good soldiers curving that crossbar on his/her own. Nor have I ever seen an old sample of Kis/Janson with a detail like that.

Sii, thank you so much for inviting Robin Nicolas to this party.

Max Phillips's picture

Er, Nicholas. Sorry.

quadibloc's picture

What I found very interesting in Harry Carter's essay in A Tally of Types is that on page 171 of the first volume of Updike's Printing Types a type by Kis, then unknown to Morison, is reproduced which was modified from the original Kis/Janson for the purpose of achieving the same goals as Ehrhardt was.

dan_reynolds's picture

Eric Gill was a bit of an eccentric, and was not as experienced in producing actual typeface as some other type designers of his day would have been. So, I think that his comments about the Drawing Office should be taken with a grain of salt. I also doubt, for instance, that Gill Sans would have ever turned out nearly as well as it did in small sizes without the excellent work of the Drawing Office. Of course, this is something of a counterfactual, because without Morison and Monotype's interest, there would not have been a sans serif typeface from Gill anyway, just some larger-sized lettering pieces in this style.

I think that the Drawing Office was better than they often get credit for. Some of the details of their reputation may have also come from Morison's writings, especially his later writings, as he famously did not get on so well with Frank H. Pierpont, the Works manager for many years. Pierpont and his team were capable of producing quality typefaces without any input from Morison at all, as can be seen in the typefaces they produced in the decade before Morison's appointment as typographical adviser (Imprint, Plantin, and maybe Monotype Garamond, too, depending on whose timeline you believe).

Nick Shinn's picture

Fred Goudy had the exact same complaint, about the workers straightening out his curves, as Gill.
(In Goudy's Type Designs about Garamont.)
But Goudy was an experienced type designer at the time, with Kennerley under his belt, and the company was Lanston Monotype, which IIRC had a U.S. drawing office.

That would tend to support Max's observation that the assembly line was inherently conservative and unimaginative. Given the hierarchical structure of industrial production, one would expect every letter drawn by a worker to be signed off by a lower-level manager (a sergeant major, following the R&R to a T), and that more general design direction be provided by senior management.

Although punch cutters worked in anonymity in the 19th century (e.g. the mysterious "man in black"), before the era of the pantograph and engineering drawings, even at the larger foundries they had some autonomy to introduce personality quirks into typefaces, and one can see this in the variation of letter form between different sizes of the same typeface.

RadioB's picture

Yes John you are right, the name I was looking for was Nicholas Kis.
Thanks for the correction, has anyone ever revived any of his typefaces?

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Nicholas Kis […] has anyone ever revived any of his typefaces?


[Due to a wrong attribution, some designs are called Janson.]

quadibloc's picture

Oh, and by the way: the book from which the image in Printing Types was taken is on Google Books, and there are also good quality page images from another copy here.

So, if anyone is planning to revive the typeface, sources are handy. Because it's a book about experimental science, there's even a page (page 98) with an asterisk present.

gordanmahid's picture

yeah right, your answer is Nicholas Kis.

kentlew's picture

> Nicholas Kis […] has anyone ever revived any of his typefaces?

David Berlow designed FB Kis, in part for Roger Black’s redesign of the LA Times many years ago, inspired by types by Kis (obviously). I don’t think it was intended as a strict revival.

And I don’t know if DB was specifically looking at the Cecchi cut at all, but here’s a comparison of a random screenshot of the Saggi di naturali esperienze (from John’s second link above) with FB Kis Text Light.

quadibloc's picture

I don't know what David Berlow was looking at, but the type samples are indeed very similar.

As for Daniel Berkeley Updike, though, I found the work on Google Books directly through the text in the print sample which (in the original book, as opposed to the much more common Dover reprint, which doesn't preserve the blank pages on the backs of the plates) faces page 170. So I think that's the one that Harry Carter was talking about, and the fact that a Kis revival type is very similar to it helps to confirm that.

Si_Daniels's picture

A reply from Robin...

"I am pretty sure that no other designer (outside of Monotype) was involved in the development of Ehrhardt. The account by Harry Carter in the 1973 'Tally of Types' seems pretty accurate to me. I think it was Morison's take on Janson - made a little heavier and narrower to give improved legibility and economy.

The project started in 1936 and was originally called 'Old Hollandische' but Morison scrapped the first trial, which had been based on 'Janson Antiqua 12pt', and re-started the work in 1937, based on a different model."

Max Phillips's picture

Thank you, Sii and Robin. I don't know what makes me happier: the idea that some anonymous Monotype worker bee curved that crossbar and got away with it, or that Morison, the sworn enemy of "rather jolly" typographic details, couldn't resist doing so. Anyhow, it's a beautiful face.

Nick Shinn's picture

...some anonymous Monotype worker bee curved that crossbar...

Or Brazil chaos theory plot device.

charles ellertson's picture

My God, what happened to the descenders in FB Kis? Saltpeter?

The ascenders are a bit shortened too . . .

quadibloc's picture

Ah. If it weren't for a trademark conflict, I suppose it ought to be called FB Kis 540.

I'm afraid that in these modern days, ascenders and descenders get shortened to save paper. And that's still an issue today - no longer is it just commercial greed, but concern for the environment; look how recycling is actively promoted nowadays, as the need for responsible stewardship of our forests grows.

Adam Shubinsky's picture

When one thinks of Miklós Kis typeface revivals then Janson, Kis, and Ehrhardt always seem to jump to mind. But let us not forget Elsner & Flake's superb contribution to this glorious set of revivals, namely Kis Antiqua Now

For those who are interested, the Elsner & Flake site also contains some information regarding the life and work of the great master Miklós Kis.

kentlew's picture

> My God, what happened to the descenders in FB Kis? Saltpeter?

Charles — You did catch where I said it originated out of a newspaper commission, right?

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