Über Hebräische Typen und Schriftarten by Rafael Frank

brianskywalker's picture

Is there anywhere I can see a copy of this writing? I'm not looking to buy it, but I can't find it online.

William Berkson's picture

.Here is where I got it. I haven't read it yet.

brianskywalker's picture

Cool! Thank you Mr. Berkson.

gohebrew's picture

From the picture in the article Raphael Frank a"h appears to be a non-observant Jew. In the time period, non-observant Jew were anti-Torah. Today, all Jews seek to be pro-Torah, but have different backgrounds and educations.

I had thought Frank was simply modern and less traditional. I am surprised the typeface is used extensively in traditional Jewish circles throughout the world. I would call it a treif design, perhaps even made on the Sabbath.

FrankReuhl was a huge breakthrough in Hebrew printing, replacing the tremendous role that Romm Vilna enjoyed for 100 years. FR is less used today, as Itamar David's David, the fonts by Tzvi Narkiss, and Henri Friedlaeder's Hadasa, had eaten away at FR widespread use in Hebrew printing.

brianskywalker's picture

Isreal, can you share the order of the popular major and notable Hebrew typefaces, and the era's they were used for? I'm not familiar with Romm Vilna at all.

gohebrew's picture

Prior to the 1800s Hebrew publishing was dominated by basically two Hebrew typefaces, which were crudely cut from poor original drawings. But no other designed existed, and no better originals could be used.

The the Hebrew printing establishment belonging to the Romm family of Vilna, Lithuania was establed by the family head, Menachem Mann Romm, a very wealthy non-Chassidic Jew.

He became the choice Hebrew printer in the world, due to his beautifully created Hebrew typefaces, based upon accurate ancient original drawings which he secured for a great sum of money. Every important Hebrew work was typeset and print by his large firm, including his loftiest project, the Talmud - a 15,000 page work, divided into 20 volumes.

Romm bribed the Vatican to open its huge library and to allow many Hebrew manuscripts to be copied from inside the bound covers of rare Catholic books at the cost of a small fortune.

The famous American type desinner Frederick Goudy reports that Romm commissioned the students of Giambattista Bodoni in Italy to create the hugely popular Romm Vilna typefaces from what appears to have been excellent ancient original drawings and manuscripts.

This dominated the entire Hebrew printing industry until the advent of the FranReuhl typeface in Germany in the early 1900s.

In the fifties, FrankRuhl's popularity began to be reduced by Henri Friedlaender's Hadasa, Itamar David's David, and the fonts of Tzvi Narkiss. Eliyahu Koren's Koren only was popular in his printing of the Talmud. It was even used anywhere else until Raphael Freeman used it in the Orthodox Union prayerbook. I think its a passing fad, propelled his company's hype.

Scott-Martin Kesofsky's fonts will become the enduring Hebrew designs, only rivaled by my revival of Romm Vilna.

david h's picture


wait to my revival Romm Vilna Next™


gohebrew's picture


Romm Vilna, also called Talmud, in multiple weights has been completed.

New Romm Vilna is still under development.

Samples to follow.

Yotam's picture

FR is less used today

~95% (extremely rough estimation) of all books, magazines and newspapers in Israel are body set in Frank-Rühl.

gohebrew's picture

Romm Vilna
version 3

gohebrew's picture


Boruch Habah.

Hadasa is beginning to dominate religious publishing.

David, and the various fonts by Narkiss, grow in popularity.

Kesofsky;s Shlomo will take over, becase it is attractive, modern, and has the readabiility of FrankReuhl.

Romm Vilna will compete with Hadasa in religious circles.

But I am not the son of a prophet or a ben zonah ( :) )

brianskywalker's picture

So, the popular Hebrew typefaces were,

Throughout the 1800's
Romm Vilna
From the early 1900's
And after the 1950's
Hadasa, David, and the fonts of Tzvi Narkiss
Koren, from the various accounts I have received, sounds like it's popularity was never as great as other typefaces of the time. Although it is highly regarded in most articles I've read and by most Hebrew typographers, whose opinion is easily available publicly.

Your Romm Vilna looks spectacular. I'd like to get a closer look at that!

Yotam's picture

Thanks for the welcome, Israel. (although, I have been on and off Typophile for over 6 years.)

I should have mentioned in my message that I am referring to secular, everyday publishing. There, David for example, is not that common. I would say that after Frank-Rühl(s), the most popular faces for long, body text are Narkissim, Narkis, Narkis Block, David, Hadassa and recently Michal Sahar's version of Arbel.

gohebrew's picture


From 1825 to 1925
Romm Vilna

From 1925 until today

From the mid 1950s until today
2. Hadasa
3. David
4. the fonts of Tzvi Narkiss

5. Koren
Respected but not highly used

About my revival of Romm Vilna, thank you
I am reviving also Linotype's FrankReuhl in various versions

Scott-Martin Kesofsky's Milon (like New Hadasa)) and Shlomo
are going to rise to 2 and 3

Soon you will the latter 4 used extensively.

The Reform will use Shalom
The Conservatives are using Milon
The new Talmud will Romm Vilna
And many will use the revival of FrankReuhl

I will post more samples later

brianskywalker's picture

Very interesting. Will like to see whether you predictions turn out. Looking forward to those samples!

quadibloc's picture

It should be noted that pages 31 through 39 are missing from that copy.

Also, it's interesting that while the German-language text is set in a Roman typeface, one somewhat reminiscent of Kelmscott or Golden, the long s is used.

Incidentally, if you want to see the original website hosting the document, the page with the link to it is:


The copy of Franck is at the link labelled 1.5MB,PDF - the first orange link under the second blue heading.

gohebrew's picture

The other articles there are fascination. Great.

Thank you John S.

gohebrew's picture

I liked Itamar David's letter at http://www.cs.tau.ac.il/~stoledo/fonts/articles_david.html, and the OpenType article about Hebrew diacritics at http://www.cs.tau.ac.il/~stoledo/fonts/articles.html.

Raphael, if Volt crashed by you, it wasn't too much code, it badly written code. Very likely, just sloppy look-ups.

John H., has it ever crashed by you? Diane Collier?

If you know Volt, it won't crash. A few bugs, yes. But, there are work arounds.

gohebrew's picture

Who is Sivan Toledo?

brianskywalker's picture

From his website:

Blavatnik School of Computer Science
Tel-Aviv University

סיון טולדו
בי"ס למדעי המחשב ע"ש בלבטניק
אוניברסיטת תל-אביב

My main research interest is in
high-performance scientific computing.
I am interested in and have worked on
parallel algorithms, on adapting algorithms
to run well on data caches and out-of-core,
and on various algorithms in numerical linear
I also conduct research on computer
systems, in particular on managing
flash memories and in wireless sensor.

gohebrew's picture

Thanks, Brian.

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