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A facsimile edition of an unpublished masterpiece of calligraphy and painting by Hermann Zapf.
A facsimile edition of an unpublished masterpiece of calligraphy and painting by Hermann Zapf.
767 backers pledged $80,798 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Hermann Zapf, c. 1938
Hermann Zapf, c. 1938

In 1939, just as he was beginning his career as a graphic artist, Hermann Zapf was conscripted into the German army. He started working on a series of sketchbooks, small enough to keep in his uniform pocket at all times, and continued them throughout the war years. Although a handful of the pages have been reproduced previously, only a very few people have ever seen the contents of these three clothbound volumes in their entirety. Now, with the cooperation of the artist himself, the Hermann Zapf Sketchbook Facsimile Project will make the complete work available for the first time.

        Seventy-one compositions—each a small masterpiece—indicate the breadth of Hermann Zapf’s artistic abilities during this period. Watercolor paintings, pen and pencil sketches, and, above all, gems of calligraphic art, exhibit his wide capabilities and formidable skill. A treasure trove for lovers of the letter arts, the notebooks are key to understanding Zapf’s future achievements in calligraphy and typography. 

MASTERFUL CALLIGRAPHY

These sketchbooks – and the fifty or so other manuscript books Zapf executed from 1936 to 1948 – attest to Zapf’s skill in “pure” writing with a broad nib pen. Examples of the blackletter hands prevalent in Germany at the time dominate in the sketchbooks. Some of the texts run to hundreds of words, written over multiple pages; others are just a few words beautifully written and arranged. These deceptively simple compositions rely on the careful placement of extremely well-made letterforms for their effect, which would become a hallmark of Zapf’s work.

Quotation from Walter Flex, page from the first sketchbook, 1941.
Quotation from Walter Flex, page from the first sketchbook, 1941.

Quotation from Martin Luther, page from the first sketchbook, 1941.
Quotation from Martin Luther, page from the first sketchbook, 1941.
Quotation from Rudolf Koch, page from the third sketchbook, 1944.
Quotation from Rudolf Koch, page from the third sketchbook, 1944.

INDICATIONS OF FUTURE WORK

It is not always easy to see here the future mastery of roman and italic letterforms displayed in Zapf’s roman and italic typefaces, such as Palatino, Michelangelo, Medici and Optima; yet these roman and italic pages are beautiful in their own right, and give indications of things to come. For example, it is astounding how closely a page in one of the sketchbooks from the early forties foreshadows the Zapfino typeface, issued in 1998.

Page 15 in the second sketchbook, written c. 1942.
Page 15 in the second sketchbook, written c. 1942.
The same text set in Linotype Zapfino font, released in 1998.
The same text set in Linotype Zapfino font, released in 1998.

PAINTINGS & ILLUSTRATIONS

The sketchbooks include finely observed paintings and drawings of what Zapf saw while stationed in Weimar, Jüterborg, and later as member of a map making unit in the south of France, as well as the lovely flower paintings which are often seen in Zapf’s early work.

Weimar, Room 53, page from the second sketchbook, 1941.
Weimar, Room 53, page from the second sketchbook, 1941.
From the first sketchbook, 1941.
From the first sketchbook, 1941.
Christmas 1941 with a verse from Hans-Ulrich Röhl, from the second sketchbook.
Christmas 1941 with a verse from Hans-Ulrich Röhl, from the second sketchbook.

TWO EDITIONS

THE FACSIMILE EDITION

The book will be produced in a facsimile edition, actual size, printed in full-color from scans made directly from the originals, utilizing fine-line screen offset lithography on archival paper.

160 pages, including 71 pages of full-color facsimiles

Artwork on right-hand pages only; with backs blank [but reproduced in full-color to approximate the original paper], some with brief captions, as in the sketchbooks 

12 page introduction set in Palatino nova fonts

8¼ x 6” [actual size] printed on quality archival uncoated paper 

Bound in one volume, sewn binding, covered in imported cloth

THE DELUXE FACSIMILE EDITION

Same as above, but hand-bound in three volumes [like the original three sketchbooks], sewn and covered in imported Holland cloth with ribbon ties, as the sketchbooks themselves, in a custom handmade slipcase. Signed by Jerry Kelly; limited to 50 copies.

GOAL

We want everyone who cares about beautiful letters to have the opportunity to see and appreciate these exquisite compositions by a great designer, with all the detail contained in the originals and in the size they were created. We've been asked if we can really produce a high-quality, full-color facsimile, in a sewn hard cover binding, for our goal amount of $17,500. The answer is, “No, we cannot.” Our goal number is only a fraction of the production costs, but in order to reach a wider audience we are willing to put our money where our mouths are, and underwrite a significant portion of the upfront cost ourselves.

CURRENT STATUS

The project is ready to proceed to press. All that remains is your help to fund the printing and binding costs.

PROJECT SCHEDULE

selected pages August 2015
regular edition September 2015
deluxe edition October 2015
special rewards October 2015

ABOUT HERMANN ZAPF

In 1935, 16-year-old Hermann Zapf went to see a memorial exhibition of the work of a fellow Nuremberg son, the great calligrapher and type designer Rudolf Koch. Inspired by Koch’s work, Zapf began teaching himself calligraphy, mainly from Koch’s Das Schreiben als Kunstfertigkeit and Edward Johnson’s Writing and Illuminating, and Lettering. After some false starts, Zapf became a true master of the art, producing over fifty manuscript books, the highly regarded calligraphic manual Feder und Stichel (Pen and Graver in its English edition) and many superlative broadsides, as well as exceptional calligraphic panels in his own sgraffito technique.

Hermann Zapf
Hermann Zapf

Zapf has created some of the most important typefaces of the last seventy years. His first typeface, the fraktur named Gilgengart, designed in 1938 but released only in 1951, had a problematic birth due to the war, but Palatino, issued in 1948, went on to become one of the most popular typefaces of all time. 

Palatino specimen from Manuale Typographicum,1954.
Palatino specimen from Manuale Typographicum,1954.

Further successes followed, including Virtuosa, Michelangelo, Sistina, and others. Zapf’s revolutionary Optima design of 1958 added a whole new facet to the category of sans-serif types. 

Foundry proof sheet of 36 pt. Optima, 1958.
Foundry proof sheet of 36 pt. Optima, 1958.

Zapf joined the digital vanguard early on with his work on TeX, and in 1971 he designed the first type specifically made for digital typesetting, Marconi. In 1998, fifty years after Palatino, Linotype introduced Zapfino, in which Zapf melded calligraphic virtuosity with the possibilities of modern type technology.

Zapfino, 1998
Zapfino, 1998

In addition to his work in calligraphy and type design, Hermann Zapf is one of the greatest book designers of the twentieth century. Masterpieces include Manuale Typographicum I (1954) and II (1968), Typographic Variations (1963), Orbis Typographicus (1980) and Poetry Through Typography (1993). The latter was published by the Kelly-Winteron Press, who will also be publishing the Hermann Zapf Sketchbook Facsimile.

Risks and challenges

We’re excited to take on the challenges of reproducing these important sketchbooks. With decades of experience producing finely printed volumes for numerous clients, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pierpont Morgan Library, The Grolier Club, International Typeface Corporation, The Frick Collection, The Amon Carter Museum, The Society of Scribes, and numerous others, we’re confident we can meet the demands of the project. Akira Kobayashi of Linotype GmBH has already made and sent us the high resolution scans of the pages made directly from the originals especially for this facsimile. Zapf authority Jerry Kelly has designed the book and contributes an introduction, setting the work in context. He will supervise production. If the project is funded, we see very little risk for our backers. We are eager to get this book in the hands of those who admire beautiful graphic work.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    SELECTED PAINTINGS REPRODUCTION PACKET: 6 exceptional individual leaves of watercolor paintings from the sketchbooks.

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    SELECTED CALLIGRAPHY REPRODUCTION PACKET: 6 exceptional individual leaves of calligraphic examples from the sketchbooks.

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    SELECTED REPRODUCTION PACKET: 12 exceptional individual leaves; 6 calligraphic examples and 6 watercolor paintings from the sketchbooks.

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    EARLY BACKER SPECIAL: Be among the first 250 subscribers and receive a copy of the facsimile 
sketchbook edition at a special price.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    THE BOOK: 160 page book, with complete actual-size color reproductions of all sketchbook pages and introduction. Hardbound, printed by fine-line screen offset on quality archival paper.

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    TWO BOOK SPECIAL: Buy two copies of the Sketchbook Facsimile and receive the second copy at half price.

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    Pledge $185 or more About $185

    TWO BOOK SPECIAL: In addition to the sketchbook facsimile volume (regular edition), receive a copy of the out-of-print Grolier Club Zapf exhibition catalogue “The Fine Art of Letters: The Work of Hermann Zapf” (1999, 8 x 11” hardcover with full-color reproductions).

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    Pledge $485 or more About $485

    DELUXE EDITION The facsimile sketchbooks handbound by Judi Conant in three volumes, like the original sketchbooks, in a handmade slipcase. Signed and numbered by Jerry Kelly.

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    Pledge $2,250 or more About $2,250

    PLATINUM EDITION: The facsimile sketchbooks, handbound in three volumes like the original sketchbooks, in a handmade slipcase. Signed and numbered by Jerry Kelly.
    plus
    Deluxe edition of “The Fine Art of Letters: The Work of Hermann Zapf.”
    Catalogue of the Grolier Club, out-of-print. One of a limited edition of 20 copies including a portfolio of original leaves from several prime Hermann Zapf publications, such as “Pen and Graver,” “Die Armée der Don Quixote,” “Das Blumen ABC,” and others
    plus
    Deluxe edition of “About More Alphabets,” including a portfolio of 4 typographic broadsides printed letterpress in Hermann Zapf typefaces, signed and slipcased.
    plus
    Two additional original leaves from “Pen and Graver”
    plus
    Four pieces from genuine Gilgengart metal type, Hermann Zapf’s first type design

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    DELUXE COLLECTION: 1] Deluxe issue of the facsimile, handbound in three volumes like the original sketchbooks, in a handmade slipcase. Signed and numbered by Jerry Kelly. 
Plus 2]
Deluxe edition of “The Fine Art of Letters: The Work of Hermann Zapf.” 
Catalogue of the 2000 Grolier Club exhibition, out-of-print. One of a limited edition of 20 copies including a portfolio of original leaves from several prime Hermann Zapf publications, such as “Pen and Graver,” “Die Armée der Don Quixote,” “Das Blumen ABC,” and others. Plus 3]
Deluxe edition of “About More Alphabets,” including a portfolio of 4 typographic broadsides printed letterpress in Hermann Zapf typefaces, signed and slipcased. 
Plus 4]
A rare original type specimen of Palatino type on Japanese paper, printed at the Stempel typefoundry c. 1950. We believe these to be the first printing from the new type, and that only a handful were printed. Plus 5]
An upper and lower case Z (for “Zapf,” of course) in genuine metal type from four of Zapf’s most important typeface designs: Gilgengart, his first typeface designed in 1938; Palatino, his breakthrough type designed in 1948; Optima, his revolutionary sans-serif design of 1958; and Hunt roman; a rare private font designed in 1960.

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Funding period

- (33 days)