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book (design) story #710

max bill, rudolf hostettler, jan tschichold:
schweizerische graphische mitteilungen / 1946, 5

verlag zollikofer & co., st. gallen, 1946
printer: zollikofer & co., st. gallen
size: ?? x ?? cm
designer: rudolf hostettler, max bill

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we came across the swiss typography magazine "sgm" before – in story 530. this is the may 1946 issue.

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the magazine's cover and inside pages are designed in neoclassical, symmetric typography – the style propagated by jan tschichold from 1940 onwards. nevertheless the magazine was a platform which also discussed modernist, asymmetric typography – a dychotomy also present in the ads shown above, and the spread below: ...

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... the ad for perlen paper is signed "lohse swb".

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an article on braille printing for blind people, with tipped-in embossed sample, ...

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... is followed by a text on "germany's typography of the last 12 years" by sgm's editor rudolf hostettler (1919-1981): ...

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... the reproduced examples demonstrate the "old" symmetric and "new" asymmetric typography, ...

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... and "bad" typography from the nazi years (below right).

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then the famous text "on typography" by max bill (1908-1994), in which he accused "one of the well-known typographic theorists" who (allegedly) recently had "remarked that the 'neue typographie' (...) was obsolete today; for the design of normal printed matter, such as books and, above all, literary works, it is unsuitable and should be abandoned." of course bill was referring to jan tschichold, who promptly countered in a later issue of "sgm". this bill vs. tschichold dispute went down in typographic history.

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bill designed "his" pages in a demonstrative contrast to the rest of the magazine: asymmetric page layout, all-lowercase sansserif set unjustified; the light grey text colour looks cool (although doesn't quite improve readability ...).

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there are reproductions of typographic designs by max bill, e.g. the covers of books 622, 151, ...

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and 152 (below).

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ironically, max bill's article is followed by a text from a 17th century book on the art of handwriting, typeset in blackletter (schwabacher) – compiled by jan tschichold! this spread rather epitomizes their dichotomy.

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