Thoughts on lettering

Typeface recognition needed – and answered Albertus!

Today I visited a second-hand bookshop near to where I live. Unfortunately it is closing soon so they are having a fire sale. All stock is 75 per cent off.

I stumbled across some beauties. That’s the wonderful thing about actually visiting a bookstore rather than virtual browsing on ABE – you never know what you might.

And among the pile of books I bought was one by a mid 20th century British poet, Louis MacNeice, who I collect off and on. He was a mate of Auden’s (him with the grizzled face) and wrote some great stuff, particularly in the build up to the second world war. He was trained in the classics and spent a lot of his working life at the BBC. As now poets have to earn a living somehow.

faber and faber published his work (along with many of the leading poets of the time – TS Eliot was a director, so understandably had a preference for poetry).

The books are always presented in a distinctive typographic manner – the covers especially  – and this one is no exception. Take a look.

What I would like to know is does anyone know the typeface. The name is on the tip of my tongue but I can’t quite get it out…

I particularly like the use of the lower case n.

I knew it – came to me today – the typeface is Albertus, designed by Berthold Wolpe.

Here it is in all its beauty



By John Pitt

Artist and Creative

3 replies on “Typeface recognition needed – and answered Albertus!”

Berthold Wolpe was for many years the art director at Faber and Faber and so Albertus is frequently used on their covers. I’ve got another one with the lower case n in amongst caps published by Faber as well. Only Wolpe could get away with such heresy I imagine.
He didn’t like talking about Albertus because he only got paid £1.00 a letter by Monotype and it was said he only did the lower case in order to get some more money for it but, as his daughters recently confirmed at a lecture about him, the typeface not only saved his life but made their’s possible as it was Stanley Morrison’s request that he come to England to design Albertus that got him, his sister and their mother out of Nazi Gernany while Jews still could.
The lower case really came into it’s own as the titling and typeface employed for all the signage in the cult 60’s spy series, The Prisoner starring Parrick McGoohan.

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