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book (design) story #47

helmut wagner:
sport und arbeitersport

büchergilde gutenberg, berlin, 1931
printer: buchdruckwerkstätte g.m.b.h., berlin
size: 24 x 17 cm
designer: wilhelm lesemann

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in the 1920s there were many discussions about reforms of the written language in germany: simplified orthographics, lowercase writing and new, phonetic alphabets were suggested by kurt schwitters, herbert bayer, jan tschichold and other avant-gardists. the bauhaus introduced lowercase for all its publications in 1925. the büchergilde contributed to the discussion by printing this book in lowercase.

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the title spread, with its wide photo and contrasting type mix (trump's city, again), is quite impressive. the designer is credited: wilhelm lesemann, bielefeld. the book won a "50 most beautiful books" award.

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helmut wagner looks at sport from a strictly socialist point of view: the word "kapitalistisch" (capitalist) seems to appear several times on every page... his ideas about socialist sports education are rather dogmatic: planmässige erziehung vom klassengefühl zum klassenbewusstsein, erziehung zur solidarität, zur disziplin und zur opferbereitschaft. (planful education from class-feeling towards class-consciousness, education towards solidarity, discipline and the will to make sacrifices). well...

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but some of wagner's thoughts about commercialisation and "record addiction" in sport are quite reasonnable.

a typographic detail: note that the full-stops (dots) at the end of sentences are preceeded by a large space, except at the end of a paragraph. this was a common practice in experimental lowercase typography of that time – also recommended by jan tschichold in his text "schlusspunkte bei kleinschrift" (full-stops in lowercase), first published in 1932.

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