Tschichold, Jan: ”God och dålig typografi [Good and Bad Style].” Goteborg: Wezäta, [Nr. 2 i Wezätas Skriftserie] 1947.

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God och dålig typografi

Jan Tschichold

Jan Tschichold: ”God och dålig typografi (Good and Bad Style).” Goteborg: Wezäta, 1947. Text in Swedish. First edition [Nr. 2 i Wezätas Skriftserie]. Slim octavo. Threaded marbled wrappers with printed label. 19 pp. Multiple typograhic examples by the author. Expected and uniform mild wear overall, but a very good copy. Not referenced in Burke, thus rare.

5.75 x 9 elegant stapled booklet with 19 pages of text and typographic examples by Jan Tschichold explaining the difference between “good and bad style.” Not referenced in Active Literature: Jan Tschichold And New Typography [Christopher Burke, London: Hyphen Press, 2007].

Tschichold’s principal claim for the new typography is that it is characteristic of the modern age. Writing at a time when many new mass produced products appeared on the market, his intention was to bring typography into line with these other manifestations of industrial culture. Similar to the Russian Constructivists, Tschichold lauds the engineer whose work is marked by “economy, precision,“ and the “use of pure constructional forms that correspond to the functions of the object.”

Tschichold strongly believed in the Zeitgeist argument that each age creates its own uniquely appropriate forms. That belief allowed him to formulate a set of principles for his time and reject all prior work, regardless of its quality. One of the characteristics of the modern age for Tschichold was speed. he felt that printing must facilitate a quicker and more efficient mode of reading. Whereas the aim of the older typography was beauty, clarity was the purpose of the New Typography.

Jan Tschichold (German, 1902 – 1974) was a typographer, book designer, teacher and writer. Tschichold was the son of a provincial signwriter, and he was trained in calligraphy. This artisan background and calligraphic training set him apart from almost all other noted typographers of the time, since they had inevitably trained in architecture or the fine arts.

Tschichold's artisan background may help explain why he never worked with handmade papers and custom fonts as many typographers did, preferring instead to use stock fonts on a careful choice from commercial paper stocks. After the election of Hitler in Germany, all designers had to register with the Ministry of Culture, and all teaching posts were threatened for anyone who was sympathetic to communism.

After Tschichold took up a teaching post in Munich at the behest of Paul Renner, both he and Tschichold were denounced as "cultural Bolshevists.”Ten days after the Nazis surged to power in March 1933, Tschichold and his wife were arrested. During the arrest, Soviet posters were found in his flat, casting him under suspicion of collaboration with communists. All copies of Tschichold's books were seized by the Gestapo "for the protection of the German people.” After six weeks a policeman somehow found him tickets for Switzerland, and he and his family managed to escape Nazi Germany in August 1933. Apart from short visits to England in 1937-1938 (at the invitation of the Penrose Annual), and 1947-1949 (at the invitation of Ruari McLean, the British typographer, with whom he worked on the design of Penguin Books), he lived the rest of his life in Switzerland. Jan Tschichold died in the hospital at Locarno in 1974.