Haas Unica research

Corey Holms's picture

Hello all.

I am doing some research on the typeface Haas Unica and was wondering if anyone here might have some information on it.

Currently what I have is basic information about Team 77, and the typeface's inception there. Followed by it being digitized by Scangraphic, but not how the rights were acquired or any of that info. Then I get to E+F buying the Scangraphic catalog, but due to legal issues, Haas Unica is no longer distributed.

If anyone can fill in the sketchy details I have above, I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

Miss Tiffany's picture

All this lawyering and not a lawyer in site. Until a lawyer asks Eben to remove the link, well, it is all speculation.

Joe Bauldoff's picture

I believe this is the first time I've caused a controversy... Unless we count the time my mom thought I shoplifted... but I finally found the receipt, so all ended well.

Long before the Unica document appeared on Flickr, I had been trying to think of any possible party or individual that I would harm by this display. It is SUCH a beautiful reference to the meticulous care and thought behind the development of this type. To me, it is too lush an educational/inspirational resource to hoard to myself. I come from a long line of hoarders, so this was a big deal for me.

I will, of course, remove the document if any relevant legal body says the word, or if I discover someone that I AM presently harming by this. That is very much a concern of mine.

I do have to commend you, Uli, on your rabid advocacy. Perhaps it is naive, but I do find a sizable difference between making this near-thirty-year-old extinct document readable for the internet community, versus setting up a download of the potentially-commercially-viable Unica font files. If I discover ANY applicable individuals that I am harming by doing what I am doing, I will most CERTAINLY remove the display.

I'm not trying to be a dirty pirate to get the attention I never got in junior high. I don't want "atta-boy" credit for this. My intentions are of the purest. I just want type lovers to have the chance to breathe in the mastery and impressively shrewd attention that went into this imprisoned face. This was to be a sort-of Helvetica 2, and that feat just BEGS to be recognized... ESPECIALLY in light of Unica's hibernation.

Thanks to all for your support.

Joe "Sybil" Bauldoff

ybaggar's picture

The document is educational by it's nature. I don't think the uploader needs to write "i put this for educational purposes, please only download it for this usage."

I reread the topic about haas unica and it confirmed what i was afraid: the font is apparently unavailable because of some stupid legal issues regarding to who has the name now after some business blabla. I know this is how things works in that business, but that really sucks regarding the users. This shows, IMHO, the problems of copyrights and ownership at some level. Unless it is the strong desire from the designers team or the original owners to not make it available now, there is no good reason to keep that font on the shelves, it's stupid.

Anyway, i found that pdf about André Gürtler's work, with some bad quality scans but also some vectors, with some letters of the Haas Unica (what a marvelous a). I hope it is okay to make it available here, or i'll edit the message: http://www.klingspor-museum.de/KlingsporKuenstler/Schriftdesigner/Guertler/AGuertler.pdf

I hope this message doesn't look to aggressive. It's just disappointment about a situation i can't understand.

Uli's picture

Mr. Joe Bauldoff:

I will, of course, remove the document if any relevant legal body says...

This would be futile, since other internet users grapped the copyrighted monograph uploaded by Mr. Bauldoff and have already made it available for download at other websites. And e.g. a certain Mr. Philip Sterne now offers the copyrighted monograph as a PDF file made on the basis of Mr. Bauldoff's scans. See here:


The famous old Latin proverb

"Et semel emissum volat irrevocabile..."

("Once it has been sent flying out, it cannot be called back")

is particularly true for those who upload copyrighted works to the internet without permission by the authors of these works.

For instance, in this way, by uploading to the internet, the huge font collections, e.g. Linotype's Gold Edition, Adobe's Font Folio, Scangraphic's rip-off collection (including the Haas Unica font), etc. etc., are now available to everyone for free download, in the very same way as the Hass Unica monograph uploaded by Mr. Baulhoff: "Et semel emissum volat irrevocabile..."

Uli's picture

Eben Sorkin:

> Also, please look up “schizophrenic”.

I used this word as a misnomer to make Typophiles happy who are wont to use misnomers such as "stealing" copyrighted works (you cannot "steal" them), font "software" (fonts are no computer programs and font designers are no computer programmers), and similar legal misnomers.

Instead of "schizophrenic", I could have used the legel expression "venire contra factum proprium", but I preferred to use the misnomer so that Typophiles are happy.

jupiterboy's picture

^ now you’ve posted a link to the pdf yourself, but I guess that is fair use because the intent was educational?


ebensorkin's picture

Nice one James. But next there will be excuses and lame arguments presented. RE: "Happy". Uli you are just being silly to dodge my complaint and you know it. It's best to ignore (probably). Not that I set a good example.

eliason's picture

@Eben: You're right, that is an interesting article when they document the letter-by-letter improvements. To my eye they've given the G an overbite, but otherwise they look like thoughtful edits. Like you, I think a closer comparison to Univers would be interesting. Do you think the name Unica was intended to evoke UNIvers?

Florian Hardwig's picture

Do you think the name Unica was intended to evoke UNIvers?


eliason's picture

Oh, of course, duh on me.

Then I wonder if the brief was to create a Helvetica/Univers hybrid, but the article spins it more as an improved Helvetica (though Univers is considered in the first part).

ebensorkin's picture

When people have spoken to me about it they generally refer to it as a Hybrid between Helvetica and Frutiger. Or maybe I am misrecalling. But in either event, the idea that it a Frutiger-like letter is maybe providing inspiration has been said before. I do love how much better it sets massed on the page. And i love that you can go through and consider what might be helping with that. It's always possible they left something out in the provided list. Or that the change listed isn't helping that much or is a kind of indifferent change, so stay critical. But in general I am grateful that they made such a lovely and useful promotional document. Although it seems obvious to me that it is clearly better in massed text, I am not sure that Haas Unica would be better in display.

The other thing is that I wonder if anybody ever made optical-size specific shapes in the Metal days for Helvetica. I have an idea that That Haas Unica had no such thing because I think they would have had film based typesetting in mind. Haas Unica is listed as releasing in 1980. Adobe Postscript is introduce in 1984.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Eben is quite right - this is the commonplace error of using "schizophrenia" to mean "multiple personality disorder." Two quite different, unrelated things.

But then, accurate usage of language has never been a concern of Uli's. I wonder how long it will be before a person or corporation either threatens to sue him for libel, or actually does so? (Not that I'd encourage such an action. Most of us have better things to do with our time, and even if one was victorious, the satisfaction/damages would not likely be worth the cost.)



Uli's picture

> either threatens to sue him

Thomas Phinney:

Why don't you sue the Russian websites that offer the entire Adobe Font Folio collection for free download? Maybe, in Russia, you find a mentally disordered judge who has the psychotic delusion that fonts are "computer programs" written by "computer programmers".

nlx's picture

Unica was designed to make a better Helvetica… but we're talking about the old Helvetica right ? Not the Neue version ?

ebensorkin's picture

Neu is not really equivalent to Haas Unica because they are still quite different. In what way? HU would still be better for longer & smaller texts I think. At large sizes the distinctive qualities of Neu might make it better or less suitable depending on the context of use. HU is a less attention grabbing design. That's my impression.

AGL's picture

Florian, maybe Unnicca?

ebensorkin's picture


AGL's picture

Yunyka spells just right

twardoch's picture


twardoch's picture

BTW, if Linotype gets away with selling "Basic Commercial", which is a renamed clone of Akzidenz Grotesk, they might just go ahead and invent a new name for Unica.

Helvers? ;)


jupiterboy's picture


Si_Daniels's picture

In Office Space tradition...

Hass Clown

ebensorkin's picture

I think if they own the rights to it they perhaps aught to call it "Helvetica text". That's it's natural use to the extent it has one. I don't think it is as strong as regular Helvetica at large sizes but I think it does beat it handily at smaller sizes. Then they could do optical versions etc and really get the $ flowing.

Or do a full merge over the sizes and let them morph over the size range. Then it might be called "Helvetica Neuer" or perhaps "Helvetisimo" later versions could be "Helvetisisimo" and so on. ;-)

Florian Hardwig's picture

Adam: which is a renamed clone of Akzidenz Grotesk

A clone? I thought it actually is AG, at least that is what you wrote.

Btw, you now can purchase the Berthold AG from Linotype, too.

twardoch's picture

Basic Commercial is a renamed version of AG, i.e. a clone (same "genetic material", i.e. practically an identical copy). Just like Humanist 777 is a renamed clone (or "alternate cut" ;) of Frutiger.

BTW, Arial is not a Helvetica clone, it is an imitation.


Si_Daniels's picture

Adam, have you been hanging out with Uli?

twardoch's picture


no, with John Downer ;)


hrant's picture

Hmmm, that means you're not really Adam. ;-)


Si_Daniels's picture

>Hmmm, that means you’re not really Adam. ;-)

Ah, an Adam forgery! ;-)

On a more serious but equally off-topic note it would be interesting to get John Downer's take on Albany, Liberation Sans and custom corporate fonts that use the metrics of Arial? Are these imitations of Arial?

Lechorl's picture


I am one of very few to be lucky to purchase on time from Fontshop in Berlin Haas Unica. I was in 2000. Since mid 80; I was using it in my corporate designs, ID etc. When I'd heard about Mac version I immediately bought Unica. My Swiss typography teacher from Zurich Mr Paul Buhlmann recommended me Unica as a mix of Universe and Helvetica elements. I have never came across of any designer using Unica. Yes it was Team 77. Note: Unica is not in sale anymore.





hrant's picture

Those links point to a PDF and a set of hi-res images of the entire Unica specimen booklet. Since that specimen was published in Typografische Monatsblatter, aren't those copyright violations?


Uli's picture


> Those links point to a PDF and a set of hi-res images of the entire Unica specimen booklet. Since that specimen was published in Typografische Monatsblatter, aren't those copyright violations?

While the reproduction of the alphabet is not copyrightable, the German-English-French descriptions contained in the booklet reproduced here


are copyrightable as a literary work:

see US Copyright Act, § 102 (a) (1): Literary Works

hardik's picture

Hi Corey, I read your article. So you also in research & development like me. I am from London. Your research regarding the Haas Unica.As per my knowledge its develop in 1980s. and it comes form the Helvetica. I also do the research for the pharmacy tablets which are available in market like anti biotic, pain killers; power booster i.e generic viagra & many more. This pills are not having any side effect. But before taking this pill please consult the doctors.

hrant's picture



clauses's picture


kentlew's picture

I removed the spam link and blocked the account, but I left the post because Hrant’s right: it truly is an impressive piece of hand-crafted spamming. ;-)

hossgifford's picture

I hope you don't construe this as spam, but those of you with an interest in the most wonderful Haas Unica might be interested in my clock app. I've more information up at http://itsaclock.flamjam.com

And here are some quick links

iPhone version.

Android version.

I look forward to hearing your opinion on how Haas Unica looks in this context.

Best, Hoss.

RG's picture

With regards to versions - there WERE 2 versions by Scangraphic 1 for body text and one for headlines which was kerned really close. (I dont know if there were any other modificartions)

SB = Scangraphic Body
SH = Scangraphic Headline


Scangraphic's SH was letter-spaced tightly (like Hernan says "really close", it is indeed really close; a bit too much for today's taste). Apart from this letter-spacing difference, the SB bears those little notches/adjustment (खाचाखळगा)... I'm forgetting what they're called in English... ink-traps ??


Birdseeding's picture

Cool. Will be interesting to see what comes off the whole project. Probably harder to butcher than Metro was. ;)

hrant's picture

Fantastic news.


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