Prolific master calligrapher and type designer, born in Nuremberg in 1918. Most of his life, he lived in Darmstadt, where he died in 2015. He is best known for Palatino, Optima, Melior, Zapf Dingbats, Zapfino, and ITC Zapf Chancery. He created alphabets for metal types, photocomposition and digital systems.
He studied typography from 1938 until 1941 in Paul Koch's workshop in Frankfurt. From 1946 until 1956, he was type director at D. Stempel AG type foundry, Frankfurt. In 1951 he married Gudrun von Hesse. From 1956 until 1973, he was consultant for Mergenthaler Linotype Company, Brooklyn and Frankfurt. From 1977 until 1987, he was vice president of Design Processing, Inc., New York (which he founded with his friends Aaron Burns and Herb Lubalin), and professor of Typographic Computer Programs, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York. Students at RIT included Kris Holmes and Charles Bigelow, who together created the Lucida type family. Other prominent students include calligrapher/font designer Julian Waters and book designer Jerry Kelly. From 1987 until 1991, he was chairman of Zapf, Burns&Company, New York. He retired in Darmstadt, Germany, but consulted on many font projects until a few years before his death. In the 1990s, Zapf developed the hz program for kerning and typesetting. It was acquired by Adobe who used ideas from it in InDesign.
- 1969 Frederic W. Goudy Award, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York.
- 1973 Gutenberg Prize, City of Mainz.
- 1975 Gold Medal, Museo Bodoniano, Parma.
- 1985 Honorary Royal Designer for Industry, Royal Society of Arts, London.
- 1987 Robert Hunter Middleton Award, Chicago.
- 1994 Euro Design Award, Oostende.
- 1996 Wadim Lazursky Award, Academy of Graphic Arts, Moscow.
- 1999 Type Directors Club award for Zapfino (1998), New York.
- 2010 Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse.
Some publications by Hermann Zapf: Feder und Stichel (1949, Trajanus Presse, Frankfurt) About Alphabets (1960) Manuale Typographicum (1954 and 1968). Only 1000 copies were printed of the original. Typographic Variations (1964), or Typografische Variationen (1963, Stempel), of which only 500 copies were printed. Orbis Typographicus (1980) Hermann Zapf and His Design Philosophy (Chicago, 1987) ABC-XYZapf (London, 1989) Poetry through Typography (New York, 1993) August Rosenberger (Rochester, NY, 1996). Alphabet Stories (RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, Rochester, 2008). Review by Hans Hagen and Taco Hoekwater. My collaboration with Don Knuth and my font design work [just an article], TUGboat 22:1/2 (2001), 26-30. Local download.
List of his typefaces:
- Alahram Arabisch.
- Arno (Hallmark).
- Aldus Buchschrift (Linotype, 1954): Italic, Roman. Digital version by Adobe.
- Alkor Notebook.
- Attika Greek.
- Artemis Greek.
- Aurelia (1985, Hell).
- AT&T Garamond.
- Book (ITC New York). Samples: Book Demi, Book Demi Italic, Book Heavy, Book Heavy Italic, Book Medium Italic. The Zapf Book, Chancery and International fonts are under the name Zabriskie on the SoftMaker MegaFont XXL CD, 2002.
- Brush Borders.
- Comenius Antiqua (1976, Berthold; see C792 Roman on the SoftMaker MegaFont XXL CD, 2002).
- Crown Roman and Crown Italic (Hallmark).
- Chancery (officially called ITC Zapf Chancery): Bold, Demi, Italic, Light, Liht Italic, Mediu Italic, Roman.
- Civilité (Duensing). Mac McGrew on the Zapf Civilité: Zapf Civilite is perhaps the latest typeface to be cut as metal type, having been announced in January 1985, although the designer, Hermann Zapf, had made sketches for such a typeface as early as 1940, with further sketches in 1971. But matrices were not cut until 1983 and 1984. The cutting was done by Paul Hayden Duensing in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The first Civilité typeface was cut by Robert Granjon in 1557, based on a popular French handwriting style of the time. Other interpretations have been made from time to time, notably the Civilité (q.v.) designed by Morris Benton in 1922 for ATF. The new Zapf design has the same general character but with a more informal and contemporary feeling. A smooth flow between weights of strokes replaces the stark contrast of thick-and-thin in older interpretations. There are several ligatures, and alternate versions of a number of characters, including several terminals. Only the 24-point Didot size is cut or planned.
- Charlemagne (Hallmark).
- Digiset Vario (1982, Hell): a signage face.
- Edison (Hell), Edison Cyrillic. Scans: Bold Condensed, Book, Semibold Italic, Semibold, Book Italic.
- Euler (American Mathematical Society). Zapf was also consultant for Don Knuth on his Computer Modern fonts. In 1983, Zapf, Knuth and graduate students in Knuth's and Charles Bigelow's Digital Typography program at Stanford University including students Dan Mills, Carol Twombly, David Siegel, and Knuth's computer science Ph.D. students Scott Kim and John Hobby, completed the calligraphic typeface family AMS Euler for the American Mathematical Society (+Fraktur, Math Symbols, +script). Taco Hoekwater, Hans Hagen, and Khaled Hosny set out to create an OpenType MATH-enabled font Neo-Euler (2009-2010), by combining the existing Euler math fonts with new glyphs from Hermann Zapf (designed in the period 2005-2008). The result is here. The Euler digital font production was eventually finished by Siegel as his M.S. thesis project in 1985.
- Firenze (Hallmark).
- Festliche Ziffern (transl: party numbers).
- Frederika Greek.
- Gilgengart Fraktur (1938, D. Stempel). Some put the dates as 1940-1949. It was released by Stempel in 1952. Revivals include RMU Gilgengart (2020, Ralph M. Unger), and Gilgengart by Gerhard Henzel.
- Heraklit Greek (1954). A digital revival was first done by George Matthiopoulos, GFS Heraklit. Later improvements followed by Antonis Tsolomitis and finally in 2020 by Daniel Benjamin Miller.
- Hunt Roman (1961-1962, Pittsburgh). A display typeface exclusively designed for the Hunt Botanical Library (Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation since 1971), situated on campus of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, to accompany their text typeface Spectrum. Review by Ferdinand Ulrich.
- International (ITC, 1977). Samples: Demi, Demi Italic, Heavy, Heavy Italic, Light, Light Italic, Medium, Medium Italic.
- Janson (Linotype).
- Jeannette Script (Hallmark).
- Kompakt (1954, D. Stempel).
- Kalenderzeichen (transl: calendar symbols).
- Kuenstler Linien (transl: artistic lines).
- Linotype Mergenthaler.
- Melior (1952, D. Stempel; see Melmac on the SoftMaker MegaFont XXL CD, 2002). Samples: Bold, Bold Italic, Italic, Roman.
- Michelangelo (1950, D. Stempel, a roman caps face; a digital version exists at Berthold and at The Font Company).
- Marconi (1975-1976, Hell; now also available at Elsner&Flake and Linotype; according to Gerard Unger, this was the first digital type ever designed---the original 1973 design was intended for Hell's Digiset system; Marconi is a highly readable text face).
- Medici Script (1971).
- Musica (Musiknoten, transl: music symbols; C.E. Roder, Leipzig).
- Magnus Sans-serif (Linotype, 1960).
- Missouri (Hallmark).
- Noris Script (1976; a digital version exists at Linotype).
- Optima (1955-1958, D. Stempel--Optima was originally called Neu Antiqua), Optima Greek, Optima Nova (2002, with Akira Kobayashi at Linotype, a new version of Optima that includes 40 weights, half of them italic). Samples: Poster by Latice Washington, Optima, Demibold Italic, Black, Bold, Bold Italic, Demibold, Extra Black, Italic, Medium, Medium Italic, Regular, Italic. Digital clones: Zapf Humanist 601 by Bitstream, O801 Flare on the SoftMaker MegaFont XXL CD (2002), Opus by Softmaker, Columbia Serial by Softmaker, Mg Open Cosmetica, Ottawa by Corel, October by Scangraphic, CG Omega by Agfa compugraphic, Chelmsford by URW, Classico by URW and Optus by URW.
- Orion (1974).
- Palatino (1948, D. Stempel; the original font can still be found as Palazzo on Softmaker's XXL CD, 2002), Palatino Nova (2005, Linotype), Palatino Sans (2006, Linotype, with Akira Kobayashi), Palatino Greek, Palatino Cyrillic. Palatino was designed in conjunction with August Rosenberger, In 2013, Linotype released Palatino eText which has a larger x-height and wider spacing. Palatino samples: black, black italic, bold, bold italic, italic, medium, roman, light, light italic. Poster by M. Tuna Kahya (2012). Poster by Elena Shkarupa. Poster by Wayne YMH (2012). Zapf was particularly upset about the Palatino clone, Monotype Book Antiqua. Consequently, in 1993, Zapf resigned from ATypI over what he viewed as its hypocritical attitude toward unauthorized copying by prominent ATypI members.
- Phidias Greek.
- Primavera Schmuck.
- Pan Nigerian.
- Quartz (Zerox Corporation Rochester, NY).
- Renaissance Antiqua (1985, Scangraphic). Samples: Regular, Bold, Book, Light Italic, Swashed Book Italic, Swash Italic.
- Saphir (1953, D. Stempel, see now at Linotype).
- Sistina (1951, D. Stempel).
- Scriptura, Stratford (Hallmark).
- Sequoya (for the Cherokee Indians), ca. 1970. This was cut by Walter Hamady and is a Walbaum derivative.
- Linotype Trajanus Cyrillic (1957).
- Textura (Hallmark).
- URW Grotesk (1985, 59 styles), URW Antiqua, URW Palladio (1990).
- Hallmark Uncial (Hallmark).
- Virtuosa Script (1952, D. Stempel). Zapf's first script face. Revived in 2009 as Virtuosa Classic in cooperation with Akira Kobayashi.
- Venture Script (Linotype, 1966; FontShop says 1969).
- Winchester (Hallmark).
- World Book Modern.
- ITC Zapf Dingbats [see this poster by Jessica Rauch], Zapf Essentials (2002, 372 characters in six fonts: Communication, Arrows (One and Two), Markers, Ornaments, Office, based on drawings of Zapf in 1977 for Zapf Dingbats).
- Zapfino (Linotype, 1998, winner of the 1999 Type Directors Club award), released on the occasion of his 80th birthday. This is a set of digital calligraphic fonts. Zapfino Four, Zapfino Three, Zapfino Two, Zapfino One, ligatures, Zapfino Ornaments (with plenty of fists). Poster by Nayla Masood (2013).
Books and references about him include:
- Hermann Zapf: A Life in Letters (2016, Julian Waters).
- What Our Lettering Needs: The Contribution of Hermann Zapf to Calligraphy & Type Design at Hallmark Cards (2011, Rick Cusick, RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, Rochester).
- Hermann Zapf and the World He Designed: A Biography (2019, Jerry Kelly, The Grolier Club, New York).
- Laudatio for Professor Hermann Zapf (Frank Mittelbach). TUGboat 22:1/2 (2001), 24-26. Local download.
- Book review: Hermann Zapf and the World He Designed: A Biography, by Jerry Kelly (Barbara Beeton). TUGboat, Volume 40 (2019), No. 3.
Pictures of Hermann Zapf: with Lefty, with Rick Cusick, in 2003, with Frank Jonen, with Jill Bell, with Linnea Lundquist and Marsha Brady, with Rick Cusick, with Rick Cusick, with Stauffacher, a toast, with Werner Schneider and Henk Gianotten, with Chris Steinhour, at his 60th birthday party. Pictures of his 80th birthday party at Linotype [dead link].
Linotype link. Klingspor link.
Klingspor Museum page
Type designers ⦿
Type designers ⦿
Calligraphic typefaces ⦿
Dingbats (original) ⦿
Blackletter fonts ⦿
Books on type design ⦿
Type scene in New York ⦿
Brush script typefaces ⦿
German type scene ⦿
Typefaces and type design for Arabic ⦿
Music fonts ⦿
Fists, pointing hands ⦿
Mathematics fonts ⦿
Cyrillic type design ⦿
Signage typefaces ⦿
Modern style [Bodoni, Didot, Walbaum, Thorowgood, Computer Modern, etc.] ⦿
Native-American fonts ⦿
Typefaces with arrows ⦿
Chancery hand, cancellaresca ⦿
Typefaces inspired by the Trajan column in Rome ⦿
Carolingian typefaces ⦿
Uncial typefaces ⦿
Garalde or Garamond typefaces ⦿