Hermann Zapf Feder und Stichel 1950

With the design of Palatino in 1950, German calligrapher Hermann Zapf gained global recognition among typographers (Lawson, 120). Though the typeface took years to circulate, it’s talented, young creator made an immediate impact (Lawson, 120). This was because ‘Feder und Stichel’ (Pen and Graver) was published that same year, using Palatino in its introductory text. This book, produced by the Stempel typefoundry of Frankfurt am Main, consisted of twenty-five pages of alphabet designs done by Zapf (Lawson, 120). Hermann Zapf was employed as the art director at Stempel and created the lettering in 1939 (Lawson, 120). Interestingly, these types were cut in lead printing plates by August Rosenberger during air raids on Frankfurt in the first world war (Lawson, 120).

The first edition publishing of Fender und Stichel was small, with “a batch of only 80 copies on Japan paper and in 500 copies on Fabriano” (Lawson, 120). This publishing introduced the new font, Palatino, and represented the first time the type was used. The text was hand set and the first edition copies were further personalized as they were all hand-bound by Gudrun von Hesse, the wife of Hermann Zapf (Lawson, 120). This small supply was quickly exhausted and was followed by an additional, larger edition (2,000 copies) which was also consumed rapidly (Lawson, 120-121). The first two editions of this text now “command high prices from sellers and collectors lucky enough to locate copies“ (Lawson, 121).

I selected this publication for inclusion in Zapf’s ‘portfolio’ because it was his first published work as a calligrapher and typographer. Additionally, the text garnered international attention for his work and career. ‘Feder und Stichel’ exhibited the font Palatino and can also be attributed as the reason for the wide use (and rampant plagiarism) of the typeface.

Personally, I feel that this text belongs in a ‘portfolio’ on Zapf because it beautifully exhibits his natural talent despite informal education as a calligrapher. The lettering in this classical book was completed when Zapf was in his twenties, even though he had received no formal schooling. I feel that the types illustrated in the book are individual works of art and perfectly communicative his commitment to learning, self-improvement, quality and craft in his career.

Stone, Summer. In Memoriam: Hermann Zapf. Web. Published June 2015. http://2015.typographics.com/projects/zapf/. Accessed April 2018.


Lawson, Alexander S. Anatomy of a Typeface. David R. Godine Publisher, 1990.