H. BERTHOLD TYPEFOUNDRY

Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection

The Berthold Exklusiv Collection is one of the leading type libraries created solely for Berthold by distinguished type designers under the direction of Günter Gerhard Lange (GGL). Here is the story of its genesis.

When GGL began his long association with Berthold in 1950, he inspected and analyzed Berthold's competition and Berthold's typeface inventory. He then decided to develop a Berthold “Exklusiv” library. However, this would not be an easy task. Berthold had always stood for advertising types and brass line for decades. To develop types for the masses, which had to be used on typesetting machines, GGL would have to turn the entire Berthold operation upside down. The story in GGL's words:

My aim was not to put myself forward with my own types, but to enrich the Berthold programme with quality and greater diversity. The diversity of the others, the economic situation of Berlin in its “island location” strengthened my resolve to revive the former glory of Berthold’s reputation. Don’t forget that Berthold was the world’s largest foundry in the thirties. So I had to pursue a program which was exclusive vis-à-vis comparable standards and presented new people with new ideas.

We decided to build up the Exklusiv Library systematically: 

1. Headline types, for headlines and to complement existing types. 

2. Typefaces which brought us forward stylistically and which were important for mixing types and for combinations with other types.

3. Work types, my real new main field for creating high-quality book  types.

Go back to the past, then you will be armed for the future.

The systematic analysis of the world market was carried out on the basis of stringent aesthetic criteria. I started with what was available and built up the Berthold programme systematically. First priority was the bestsellers – Akzidenz-Grotesk, after that Bodoni, Baskerville, Caslon etc. 

On a visit to Mainz, I happened to see a poster advertising the 1966 International May Festival in Wiesbaden. Great type, I thought. Who did that? Friedrich Poppl. Never heard of him. He was a lecturer at the “Werkkunstschule", and I went to see him. In short, that was a man who knew what it was all about – not only a craftsman, but a man with calligraphic ambitions, an emotional, high-spirited man. His first drafts were very expressive.

Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection
Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection Developing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection

Poppl is an individualist and part of the German emotional fabric, whether he wants to or not. You can see that from his calligraphic ambitions. At the time he covered a field that did not necessarily have anything to do with advertising, but was more sophisticated. 

My credo always was I will treat any type, no matter by whom, with so much diligence that a designer critically evaluating his work could not have done it better.  I would use absolute empathy for the models submitted, using the know-how we had cultivated. When I suggested corrections, I made sure that the designer was always involved so that nothing was ever done without his consent.

That approach creates trust. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Weidemann Corporate A-S-E for Daimler-Benz ended up with me, because Kurt Weidemann was not happy with the work of the manufacturing company in Hamburg. He said: “Günter, you finish it.” That went for all alphabets including the correction of widths. This has not been spoken about often, but I wanted to mention it to prove that it was not about me personally, but the Weidemann original and a perfect result. 

I also corrected Hermann Zapf’s Comenius in this spirit. The same went for the designs of his wife, Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse, as well as Friedrich Poppl, Albert Boton and many others. I have given all of them any pragmatic, aesthetic assistance that seemed necessary to me. After all, I had the responsibility for the release of the types.

I was the artistic director of Berthold and Berthold was characterized by continuity and one hand.

Not all of Berthold’s type designers were well known experts. The 1983 Barmeno, by Hans Reichel. Reichel travelled the world with a jazz guitar. A musician who had learnt type design. A good type all over, there was little to discuss. The same goes for the Frenchman Albert Boton. They were perfectionists with great skill. So we only had to deal with details in their case.

I have made a kind of commitment to myself. So, I will remain active as long as my body allows.

When Lange was asked if he could have three wishes for his 81st birthday he responded:

- that not everything in history is repeated that was recognized as an error or gross mistake or destructive to mankind;

- that people learn to look, to compare, to improve and to re-do; and 

- for me, that I will be able to continue working, reasoning with a clear head, and setting an example in the service of visual communication.

Other contributors to the Berthold Exklusiv Collection include, among others, such notable designers as Gustav Jaeger, Bernd Möllenstädt, Herbert Post, Karl Gerstner, Aldo Novarese, Les Usherwood, Georg Trump, Marco Ganz, Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse, Hermann Zapf and Werner Schneider.

Berthold Types has continued the tradition of expanding and enhancing the Berthold Exklusiv Collection. To this end, Berthold has updated all of the Berthold Exklusivs into modern font formats (Open Type) and enhanced existing Berthold Exklusivs by offering full character sets often with multiple language support. It also has expanded many favorite Berthold Exklusiv families, such as Akzidenz-Grotesk®, Formata®, Imago®, AG Book®, Berthold Bodoni Old Face®, and Block®. Over the past 13 years Berthold Types also has added many new Berthold Exklusivs to the library, including Whittingham®, Senatus®, Nero® and Akzidenz-Grotesk Next®. Until his death in 2008, GGL remained actively involved in the continued development of the Berthold Exklusiv Collection.