*posters & specimen * click to enlarge
Originally designed by character designer Ferdinand Theinhardt under the name Royal Grotesk light, the font changed its name to Akzidenz Grotesk and was added the weight Regular, Medium and Bold following the merge of the Theinhardt foundry and the H. Berthold foundry. It was then published in 1898 by Berthold in Berlin with the official name we know today, Akzidenz Grotesk.
Akzidenz Grotesk was the first family of extended and coordinated sans serif character to offer perfectly calibrated weights. It was the first sans sérif font to be globally used, moreover it inspired several typefaces after the 1950s, such as Helvetica, Univers, Folio and Arial.
Akzidenz Grotesk belongs, as its name suggests, to the grotesque lineal lines, a tradition of all-purpose, unadorned typefaces that were dominant in German printing in the 19th century. It became one of the most popular examples of this style for its simple and neutral design. Akzidenz means commercial, indicating that the use intended for it was rather advertising than literary or craft. It was widely used and influential as part of the International style, also known as Swiss Design, in the 1950s and 1960s. Like most sans serifs, Akzidenz Grotesk has a monoline structure, that is, that each of its strokes is of similar width. This gives it a clarity that sets it apart, especially combined with the absence of embellishments present in several decorative typefaces of the time, inspired by the Art Nouveau which was then raging. In some English speaking countries, it was also sold as "Standard", or "Basic Commercial".
In the 1950s, Günter Gerhard Lange, then artistic director at H. Berthold foundry, began the project to expand the Akzidenz Grotesk character family while keeping the particular characteristics of the font. Berthold therefore adds, under the direction of Günter Gerhard Lange, the Medium Italic weight in 1963, ExtraBold in 1966, Italic in 1967, ExtraBold Condensed and Italic as well as Super in 1968.
In 2001 Berthold completed the typeface by adding weights: Light Italic, Super Italic, Light Condensed, Condensed, Medium Condensed, Extra Bold Italic, Light Long Italic, Extended Italic and Extended Medium Italic.
Akzidenz Grotesk Pro was released in May 2006. This version includes extended support for languages (Central European, Baltic, Turkish, Welsh, Archaic Danish, Cyrillic and Greek). Also updated for digital, the character family has been adapted to the new standard open type.
Foundry website: bertholdtypes.com
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