Flickr Hebrew design

Stephen Rapp's picture

I saw this sort of maximalist design with Hebrew Lettering on Flickr. I don't know enough about Hebrew lettering to say if it works or not, but visually its kind of interesting, even though that style of decoration is probably overdone these days.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/enginkorkmaz/2714342341/in/pool-type

gohebrew's picture

> I don’t know enough about Hebrew lettering to say if it works or not, but visually its kind of interesting,

This Hebrew type design at the base of the artist's illustration was popular and widespread in Israel. This was because the design was available for relatively little expense as a stick or rub-down letter from Letraset of Israel.

The original design was popularized in Europe and Russia about 200, based upon the popular Hebrew type design, called, "Vilna", in a very heavy weight for display use.

The origins of the design are even older. In his thin but fascinating book on type design, Frederik Goudy reports that an elderly man visited the Bodoni School of Type in Italy from Russia. He commissioned the students of Bodoni to create for his printing press sets of Hebrew letters based upon on old Hebrew manuscripts of drawings of ancient Hebrew letter forms.

The elderly man was Mr. Romm senior, whose wife and sons published the popular standard edition of the Talmud in Vilna, Lithuania. The original Talmud was burned by the tens of thousands by the Nazis, and the Romm family printing house and the original printing plates were destroyed by the Communists.

There is a striking and uncanny resemblance between the famous Bodoni design and the characteristics of the popular Vilna typeface. You could think one design influenced the other.

If we dig back even further, to before the advent of the printing press, Hebrew books were often featured elaborate and attractive illumination and beautiful hand-drawn lettering, similar and perhaps even greater than what we have in modern books. (If fact, Maimonides instructs there are various graphical rules regarding the shape and positioning of Hebrew letters, indicating this is an ancient art.)

I discover that this popular Vilna typeface design was used in pre-printing press time periods.

Therefore, I must conclude logically that the well-known Bodoni design did not influence the popular Vilna design. If anything, the Vilna design influenced and is the basis of the Bodoni design.

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