Typography During WWII

souljacker's picture


At the moment I’m preparing my master's degree’s thesis in which I’ll try to join my passion about WWII history with my work.

It’s a research about typography used in publications through all countries during WWII.

Since it’s quite hard to find out any info in this aspect I would love any help you can provide me.

I have some newspapers, magazines and posters scans, if someone thinks it would be not much boring I could post then in the Type ID board.

Anyway, ANY info on this subject would help me a lot.

Miss Tiffany's picture

souljacker are you interested in books or magazines or both? are you creating a general timeline or are you still trying to figure out how to distill it down even further?

I do know that actual type design almost ground to a complete halt during the wars as most foundries' purposes were diverted to the war. or perhaps you will focus on the type which was used and how? is this location dependant or again are you leaving that open?

interesting subject, typography during wwii, do you have a site setup with some examples yet?

John Hudson's picture

That's a huge topic. You need to narrow it down, probably to a specific country and a specific type of typography, e.g. war standards book production in Britain, the typography of French resistance propaganda leaflets, etc.

Mark Batty Publishers is about to publish a new work entitled "Paper War: Nazi propaganda in one battle, on a single day; Cassino, Italy, May 11, 1944, which promises to be very interesting.

souljacker's picture

Greetings Tiffany,

Actually my purpose is trying to overlook the typefaces used (and not necessarily produced) from the period just before war until its end (something like 1937 until 1945). My wish is that I could do it comprising the most countries as possible. My interest is on any kind of print issue. Magazines, flyers, newspapers.

Here are some samples of what I’ve got here:


"Eu bebo sim, e tô vivendo, tem gente que não bebe e tá morrendo"

Maxim Zhukov's picture

The Russian sample you are showing at http://www.totalkrieg.com.br/sample.jpg is lettering, not typography. The typefaces used in Soviet Union during WWII were, almost without exception, old Russian or German makes, developed before 1917 (for manual composition), or the imported (American and English) matrices for Linotype and Monotype machines, designed in early 20th century. National newspapers printed in Moscow and Leningrad (Pravda, Izvestia and others) used A-P-L headline slugcasters manufactured by Mergenthaler Linotype, with matrices that came with those machines from the US (in early and mid- 1930s).

The very first Soviet type designs were developed—primarily for the domestic linecasters—only after 1936. They were Excelsior (a knock-off of one of the Linotype ‘Legibility Group’ typefaces, by Mikhail Shchelkunov and Nikolay Kudryashov, 1936), Obyknovennaya Novaya (a version of Bodoni, by Nikolay Kudryashov, Galina Bannikova and Anatoly Shchukin, 1938–41), Literaturnaya (a version of Romana, by Anatoly Shchukin, 1939), Akademicheskaya (a version of Cheltenham, by Anatoly Shchukin, 1941). However, their use before and during WWII was very, very limited, and they are difficult to spot in Soviet wartime print.

Gustavo Ferreira's picture

salve xará compatriota,

the online version of 'O Globo' published last week an interactive overview about the WWII. there is a small gallery with some of the newspaper's frontpages from that period – maybe it could be of some inspiration for your research...

it's not possible to post a direct link, so here is how to get to it:

O Globo.com > click on the banner "Segunda Guerra 60 anos depois" > choose "No Globo" from the menu.

you will get to a gallery with several newspapers covers. the resolution is very low, but it's possible to have an impression on the typographic design at that time.

hope this helps...

Maxim Zhukov's picture

One addition to the pre-WWII Soviet typeface list. The first version of Shkolnaya (a Soviet version of the ATF/Linotype Century Schoolbook) was developed in 1939 by a group of designers directed by Evgeny Chernevsky. However, the design was completed only in 1949–61, by a design group headed by Elena Tsaregorodsteva, the leading member of the 1939 Chernevsky team. There were several other type designs whose development was interrupted by, or suspended during, the war.

I waguely remember that Obyknovennaya Novaya, mentioned above, was developed for the new edition of the collected works of Lenin.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Souljacker, have you spoken with your advisor about your thesis? I'd really be interested in their response to your topic. In staying so broad with your topic it seems to me that you won't be able to be as critical or in depth as this any smaller potential topic might allow.

On that note, the latest issue of Print has many interesting articles about typography/design in that era.

A. Scott Britton's picture

Hey, that's a nice "Signaal." Where's it from, and what country?


Miss Tiffany's picture

Signaal? Flag? Ehehe. That is the signaal of Wardle, land of Watcher's of the well.

souljacker's picture

Firstly: thanks a lot for the kind replies.

Second: I would like to explain I’m still graduating, and am maybe 2 years from the graduation itself. My research is due a personal interest and the fact I’m planning the thesis. Therefore, I’ve no determinate patch to follow. My wish is that, together, we could compile that information. I’m plenty of visual material but I have no knowledge about typefaces and thus I can’t identify then.

Actually there’s a post in this same forum about typefaces in late 40’s and early 50’s.

I’ll try to answer one by one.


Could you please explain me the concept of lettering under this context?

“Obyknovennaya novaya” is the New Standart font right?

So, if those typefaces were barely used during WWII, which typefaces were used? You said it was mostly pre-1917 German , American and English, could you tell me which one were these?


Thanks a lot for the link. Now I must try to figure out which font faces are those :)


Actually I don’t have any advisor yet. As I said above I’m far from graduating, but I’m already picking things together. Also, I think this topic (or even a weki entry) would be a nice source of research for anyone :)


I think this SIGNAAL is from Netherlands.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

Gustavo, “Obyknovennaya Novaya [Garnitura]” stands for “New Regular [Type Family]”. As to the list of Cyrillic types that were used in the Soviet print during WWII, it could include those designs that are shown in the prewar specimens of Monotype Corporation and Mergenthaler Linotype, and in the catalogues of the Russian and German foundries of early 20th century (the most prominent ones operating in Russia were Josef Lehmann’s, Hermann Berthold’s, Benjamin Krebs’s and Ferdinand Flinsch’s; some fonts were imported from Germany). I am sorry I cannot offer you a consolidated list of those fonts. If you are interested, you should do such research yourself.

hellojon's picture

this is a related topic...


there seemed to be a lot of discussions regarding the Nazis and blackletter typefaces in particular.

timd's picture

Signal was a Nazi propaganda magazine (based in style on Life magazine) it seems Signaal was a version of the magazine produced for The Netherlands. This site is dedicated to Signal

A. Scott Britton's picture

Thanks for the link, Tim. I'm certainly no supporter of Nazis, but wow, what lines (don't worry, I'm smart enough to know that liking an alphabet design has nothing to do with supporting the content it transmits).

Can anyone tell me what face the "Signal" logo is in, or modeled after? Or is it likely pure hand-styling?


mosh's picture

Hitler very much blocked the use of Blackletter in German communications during the time, as far as I recall having read.

A. Scott Britton's picture

Yes, I've read--somewhere here I think--that blackletter was initially the "it" form in Nazi circles but Hitler had a sudden change of heart, vehemently banning it entirely.


souljacker's picture

This site is plenty of articles about this topic. Just wanted to share with you:

Serial type families (from Romulus to Thesis)

Art of the Third Reich

Graphic Design Magazines: Das Plakat

And much more. It's worth a look!

souljacker's picture

One nice cartoon from 1945 about Getulio Vargas' constant changes in his politics.


souljacker's picture

One more link about Bauhaus and typography in German


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