Foundries making things other than type?

matt_desmond's picture

I was just reading a handgun publication and inside there was a story about the Browning/Colt 1911 pistol. In this article, the author stated that among other companies, Lanston Monotype had a contract with the US Government to manufacture 1911's during WWII. Apparently their contract was cancelled before they made any.

This got me wondering if type foundries in the past have manufactured products other than type.
Anyone have any information about that?

Si_Daniels's picture

As every Reading student knows Monotype UK made machine gun parts during WWII. Including facts like this in essays was a good way to annoy the lecturers. The other favorite was to mention Baskerville's commercial interest in 'Japanning'.

Si

John Hudson's picture

There is a little illustrated booklet about the wartime work of Monotype UK, when the Salfords plant was adapted to making Bren guns. Precise machining is essential to both type and armaments manufacturing.

hrant's picture

Well, at the very beginning punchcutters were recruited from the goldsmithy trade, because they had experience engraving metal. Also, since type involved melting metal, naturally there was a synergy with certain industrial fields. For example, Antwerp was famed for its forged crossbow "leaf springs", and later for making rifle parts, and subsequently for type. And come to think of it, this might be related to Caslon, since he started off by engraving rifles, and then came his derivations of Dutch type!

Baskerville:
His great success in the japanning trade basically financed his typographic efforts. And although there was no material synergy between the two that I can see, some experts on Baskerville point out the "ideological" parallels between japanning and Baskerville's style of type.

hhp

Richard Hards's picture

Stephenson Blake make brass electrode rule for high frequency welding.

Giampa's picture

Lanston Monotype (America) manufactured adding machines, typewriter keys and stencil punches.

The last war was interesting but you will have to wait for the book.

dan_reynolds's picture

Well nowadays, House Industries makes alot more stuff than just type. They've even opened up a shop in London to sell it all.

aluminum's picture

I was going to say House is a modern foundry pumping out a lot of things.

Semi-related, when I was in the military, it was always said that Mattel (the toy company) made parts of the M-16. Not sure if that's true or not...

kegler's picture

We don't actually make or endorse these,
http://www.carl-walther.de/englisch/defense/defense-53.html
but they are coincidentally named "P22".
Then again, we sold off our hot-metal division decades ago, so "foundry" is just pining for the old days.

dan_reynolds's picture

Whoa! You've got to sell them some fonts! What a great "Fonts in Use" section that would make

Si_Daniels's picture

Off-topic but related - but there are lots of foundries (more than say dairies or shoe shops) with a military connection.

T-26 of course - http://www.battlefield.ru/t26.html

Any others?

Si

geraintf's picture

a monotype pressure gauge on ebay uk.

http://search.ebay.co.uk/monotype_W0QQsoloctogZ9

jyoung's picture

Whenever I'm on my way to NYC, on the NJ turnpike, I pass the 'AGFA' building on the right. And I always wonder what the heck goes on in that building. It doesn't look like a font factory. More like corporate headquarters. I'm always tempted to stop just to see if they have font specimens in the lobby. Maybe a catalog or two where the security guard sits.

Si_Daniels's picture

Looks like corporate HQ - http://www.agfaus.com/locations/

Font people are all over the place - HQ would probably be the Wilmington Mass office.

jlt's picture

And everyone knows that Typographica makes some really fine cocktails. But we're not a foundry.

Gotta run home right now, as Stephen and I will be making drinks this evening.

John Hudson's picture

Whenever I'm on my way to NYC, on the NJ turnpike, I pass the 'AGFA' building on the right. And I always wonder what the heck goes on in that building.

As far as I know, Agfa only went into the type business with its purchase of Compugraphic in 1988. But since we were talking earlier about the involvement of both the American and English Monotype companies in armament manufacturing during the two world wars, it may be appropriate to note that Agfa was a member of IG Farben conglomerate (and is today owned by Bayer, one of the other members of IG Farben). Among other war crimes for which IG Farben was found culpable were the use of concentration camp labour and production of the Zyklon B pesticide used in the gas chambers in the extermination camps. After the war, several IG Farben officials received prison sentences at the Nurenberg trials, and the conglomerate was broken up into its original constituent companies. Of these, Agfa, BASF and Bayer remain in business.

hrant's picture

And let's not even get into Microsoft's global practices! :-/

hhp

jyoung's picture

John,

Interesting piece of history you brought up. It's a topic for another time I guess, but I admit I've been curious lately what the role/experience was of folks like Linotype or Berthold under the Nazis. The Nazis being a fairly typographic bunch (albeit narrow minded)

John Hudson's picture

With regard to Linotype, it is important to remember that the identity of Linotype as a specifically German company is a relatively recent development. For most of its history, it was largely an American and British business, which established a continental presence through relations with French and German foundries. I don't know much about the activities of the major German foundries -- Berthold, Stempel, Haas -- during WWII, but I do have the very nice Berthold Hebrew type specimen from 1924.

dan_reynolds's picture

Thank you John, for that clarification. I'm 99% sure that Linotype itself did very little Nazi business. Haas was based Basel, outside of Germany in Switzerland, so they certainly weren't using slave labor like IG Farben was. Stempel and Klingspor were still separate during the war. They, as well as L&M, Berthold, Bauer, etc. probably profited from the Nazi's typographic whims. After 1933, there was in increase in thing being printed in Fraktur type. Around 1936, all of the foundries realeasesd modern-Frakturs, which in my opinion are some of the ugliest typefaces ever designed

hrant's picture

Dan, great post.

Erik Spiekermann pointed out something very insightful during his talk at TypeCon: he gave the example of how "regular" German people who weren't really Nazis would do things to gain favor with the regime, like a poster designer putting a little swastika on the tail of an airplane in the background. I guess you could say that sort of thing was -and is- part of "business". He also hinted (at least from my perspective) that the same sort of thing happens in the US now, in effect linking American companies -and their employees- with war crimes in a way. Certainly in all walks of life -including here on Typophile- some people are more likely to bootlick the powers that be than others.

hhp

dan_reynolds's picture

Well, millions of Germans benefited from the NS-regime during the 1930s.* William Shire reported from Berlin in 1945 that the Germans marched around through the ruble with a defiant attitude. They weren't sorry for what their armies and government had done, they were sorry that they had lost.**

I got a shiver the other day in the school's library, after I found two "Nazi" type books. The first was a portrait of Rudolf Koch from the late 1930s. Koch died in 1934, but in 1933

Giampa's picture

Compugraphic was an arm of the CIA. The reason

hrant's picture

What about Licko and her pottery? Could there be a bezier connection?

> http://www.linotype.com/61851/linentesterwithspecialmagnifyingglassfordtp-font.html

You should say what X it is. Looks like 4. I have a glass like that - it's plastic though - but it was free. My strongest glass is a 40x, with a light. My favorite is this classy old one that's 25x, although from a practical perspective my smallish 10x is a gem.

BTW, could you ask Linotype to make a nice, high-power, inexpensive reduction glass? And maybe even donate it to their stable of designers. :-> A reduction glass is a great tool for gauging text fonts printed on a laser printer at increased "artificial" resolution.

hhp

jyoung's picture

Good info! But again, grim. I totally forgot about Linotype's American roots. My current association of Linotype and Germany is by location alone. In fact, I am now aware that Baltimore had a big role to play in Linotype's history. How neighborly.

Incidentally, GarageFonts could conceivably fix your car. The office is located above an actual garage. Max and Boris do fine work.

jyoung's picture

By the way, who banned Fraktur? The ol' NS-regime? Why would they do that? I thought they'd be down with a typeface like Fraktur

matt_desmond's picture

There is some great information here, and I'm actually glad the thread got off topic. I was also wondering about German type companies during the war and what their roles were.

hrant's picture

> who banned Fraktur?

A very catalytic question.

Typophile actually has a SIG devoted to blackletter:
http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/4077/4803.html
There you will find some solid history (although it's hard work rummaging through it all), as well as opinions rarely heard elsewhere.

To me, the long and the short of it is that:
- The Nazis first promoted it as the pure German letter style.
- When they realized it was causing legibility issues in occupied countries they banned it, blaming the Jews (of course).
- These days however blackletter is struck down as a means of furthering political purposes (in fact as a counter-weapon diametrically opposed to the original Nazi intent of promoting it), essentially by maintaining a negative graphic association with the Nazis in the contemporary mindshare. Steven Heller is perhaps the most prominent example of such sleight of hand.

It's time to bring the stately old doberman back into the sunlight.

hhp

dan_reynolds's picture

The Nazi government banned Fraktur on January 3, 1941. At this point in history, they were winning the war, and were very concerned with their image abroad. In the occupied (and unoccupied) countries, they wanted the people to read German newspapers. Trouble was, no one could read them! They came up with a ridiculous excuse, saying the Schwabacher (the forerunner of the Fraktur style) was invented by the Jews.

The letter is quite famous, it was concidently typed up on a sheet who letterhead was stil in Fraktur. Here is a free translation from the original German (I found the German text in Kapr's book <i>Fraktur, For and History</i>):

National Socialist Party of German Workers
Represenative of the Führer
Munich and Obersalzberg,
January 3, 1941

Announcement, not for publication
For general information, I hereby report on the order of the Führer:

The so-called Gothic type style, seen as a symbol of German writing, is false. In actuallity, the so-called Gothic type can be traced to the Schwabacher-Jewish letters. Just like they later occupied the newspapers, the Jews slowly took over the the printing of books and publishing houses in Germany, from these actions stemmed the powerful influence of the Swabacher-Jewish letters.

Today, in a discussion with the Reichsleiter, Herr Amann, and Herr Adolf Müller, the Reich printing office owner, the Führer decided that the country's official type style should be Antiqua [serif typefaces]. As soon as possible, printed matter should begin to be made with these typefaces. When it is possibly, school books should also be reprinted, and in town schools and community colleges, this type of writing should be taught exclusively.

The authorities responsible will see to it that government agencies shall stop using the Schwabacher-Jewish letters: official certificates, street signs, and other such things will now only be finished in the new official typefaces.

Per order of the Führer, Reichsleiter Herr Amann will see to it that all newspapers and magazines, especially those in foreign circulation, or which should be in circulation abroad, switch over to the new official type.

signed,
M. Bormann


I shouldn't have to say that the grounds for this letter were entirely false, and fabricated! There is no link between Swabacher and Jews. I also doubt that Jews ever controlled the media, or the book industry, in Germany.

dan_reynolds's picture

Well, I'm from Baltimore, so I try to bring up Linotype's Baltimore connection whenever possible. Otmar Mergenthaler, who founded Linotype, died in Baltimore. There is also a high school named after him there (Mergenthaler Vocational Technology Institute, or something like that. Its called Mervo now), which is in the neighborhood I grew up in.

dan_reynolds's picture

Sorry for the cross-post, Hrant

hrant's picture

> mine was better

Oh yeah?!
I think your German translation had too many wordspaces.

hhp

dan_reynolds's picture

double post

dan_reynolds's picture

Do you mean that I should have just strung all of the words together, into one long super-word?

DoyoumeanthatIshouldhavejuststrungallofthewordstogetherintoonelongsuperword?


Sorry, that doesn't work in English :-)
I was also translating/typing as quickly as possible to try to beat anyone else to the punch!
(I've gone back into the post now and corrected some of the obvious mistakes and spelling errors, though

hrant's picture

> corrected some of the obvious mistakes

Repeating a gripe I have with Typophile:
Email delivery of posts doesn't even notify of post edits.

So for example you could say something about something, then go back and change it to say the opposite, and anybody who relies on email delivery will think all's well.

hhp

dan_reynolds's picture

Yeah I know. In this case, there were no contextual changes, though.

jyoung's picture

Dan,

That's a truly amazing and interesting document. I had no idea that this occured. The Nazis were weird. And Hrant, you proven to me that the Typophile community explores every corner of the world of typography, however dark and dingy it may be. Thanks.

Linotype should open up an office in Baltimore.

dan_reynolds's picture

It would be cool if Linotype would open a US office. We could better serve our customer base that way. It is also a fabulous idea, as it would be full of historical interesting-ness

hrant's picture

> I don't know where a German company would consider openning shop in the States.

Malibu - the land of David Hasselhoff - duh.

hhp

Si_Daniels's picture

Surely the widely reported German love of Bay Watch must have subsided by now - which American shows currently top the ratings in Germany?

dan_reynolds's picture

Friends, Sex and the City, and the Simpsons

American shows run at least one year behind over here. I am personally that South Park is on over here. Two different stations run it very late at night.

eriks's picture

<i>The Nazis were weird</i>

On the face of it, yes. But in reality they were pure technocrats who used a lot of half-baked ideology to achieve their very factual aims. They invoked Higher Powers who were supposed to guide them (Hitler called it

dezcom's picture

>...but I am not going to point fingers at leaders who invoke God and a common culture in order to achieve their strategic aims.<

As an American ashamed of my county's so-called "leadership," I can point the finger and the ballot next month in hopes that this too will end.

jyoung's picture

If we do things, we do it properly.

I often feel that graphic design has played a large part in the fact that the Nazis are always considered the worst. Granted, the efficiency and systems created for such atrocoties were scary enough. But there is such a huge visual aura that surrounds the Nazis. For instance, the Soviet "police' (as they were murdering people under Stalin) as far as I know, DID NOT use a Death's Head icon on their uniforms. Is that uniquely German? This awareness of the power of symbols or graphic elements? I think that this "visual identity" certainly enhances the narrative of things like Schindler's List, or The Pianist, or even the US Holocaust Museum.

hrant's picture

Exactly. Something I like pointing out is that one thing the Jews are very lucky to have is the swastika! A singular, distinctive visual thing that so perfectly encapsulates their [erstwhile] enemy. It's just a damn shame it used to mean the opposite in so many noble ancient cultures. Compared to the swastika, blackletter will be a piece of cake to revive in a positive light! :-/

hhp

dan_reynolds's picture

Dude, I know that given the entire scope of human history, it might seem unfair

dan_reynolds's picture

I just want to make one thing clear here. Some people might counter my last post saying that the swastika is a great universal, historical symbol (which is was), and that I (or others) are only arguing that it should remain in history's dustbin because it remains such a powerful movtivator for things like Zionism, which many people in the world are against.

Let's please not get into a discussion about Judaism or the Middle East. Even without the tragedy of the genocide of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, I think that enough evil could be assigned to the swastika to have it left in history's dustbin. At least 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, but most likely another 5 million people died in concentration camps as well, and all in all, 50 million people died in the second world war, most of them civilians. One could easily argue that the Nazi party was responsible for a great deal of this, and is therefore evil. So, even if we leave Judaism out of the argument, the swastika is still bad. It has too much blood on it.

I really like the topics of foundries, industry, and blackletter type. I don't want to start a flame war about religion, the holocaust, racism, or any of that in this thread. If anyone would like to discuss their feelings about Zionism, the Republican party, Islam, or anything else in any of those directions, I'd glady contribute to that discussion, but in another thread.

hrant's picture

> I don't think that we should ever "forget" about the NS-regime and what it did.

Well of course we shouldn't.
In fact we should work on "remembering" other things too, like the Armenian Genocide.

That said, I have to disagree with the essence of your stance. Even just the way you're using "evil" indicates a fundamental problem to me. But you certainly ARE right that this is all too off-topic.

hhp

jyoung's picture

While we're at it, let's throw the Hitler mustache into the dustbin as well

dan_reynolds's picture

>I got a shiver the other day in the school's library, after I found two "Nazi" type books. The first was a portrait of Rudolf Koch from the late 1930s. Koch died in 1934, but in 1933

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