Early 20th Century German Hand-Lettering (Sans, not Blackletter)

jacobh's picture

I come across a couple of title pages for some of Mahler’s Symphonies, which were published by Kahnt in Leipzig in the early 20th Century. They have the following quite attractive hand-lettering and I wanted to see if I could fine some more examples, but am not quite sure the best way to search for them.

Has anyone else come across a lot of lettering like this or does anyone know what this style might be called (or if anyone has digitalised them)?


Many thanks,


riccard0's picture

Keywords could be "art nouveau" or "secession". See, for example:

For a modern interpretation of the style:

jacobh's picture

Thanks, that’s really helpful. I should have realised that that was the style; it’s the lack of ornamentation which threw me.

I think Koloman Moser’s lettering is most similar to the sample and is probably what interests me the most. It’s somewhat less extrovert than Klimt’s (e.g. the bars on the A are horizontal rather than at a 45-degree angle) which appeals to me.

hrant's picture

Charming. Font please!


Andreas Stötzner's picture

Note the charming CH ligatures. They’ve done this to CK also in these days, even in cast type.

.00's picture

Looks like the historical inspiration for ITC Benguiat Gothic.
But I know its not.

Té Rowan's picture

One more keyword: "Jugendstil".

jacobh's picture

Thanks for the further comments. I’m not sure how well a straight digitalisation of this would work, since it’s charm seems to be in the irregularity of the letters.

I also like how the treatment of the accents changes depending on the size. Compare the ü in “Für Grosses Orchestra” to the ü and ä in “Für 4 Hände” in the lower right text-block. Or the C in the large “C F Kahnt” with the smaller one in “Copyright” on the line below.

blank's picture

This looks vaguely similar to a monolinear style of writing developed by Austrian calligraphy Rudolph von Larisch. He was influential in the early twentieth century century. I don't know if von Larisch ever did anything in the mode of Jugendstil, but it seems possible that artists who studied von Larisch's technique might have translated it into this kind of Jugendstil lettering.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

This was a very common lettering style at the beginning of the 20th century in Germany and Austria and numerous typefaces in this vein got issued from 1904 onwards, e.g. Negrita by Genzsch & Heyse. You’ll find this and lots of other examples in Taschen’s “A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles” from page 74 onwards.

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