• Steven Heller

The Man Who Made Kabel

Rudolf Koch (Nov. 20, 1876–April 9, 1934), the German calligrapher and type meister, designed about 30 typefaces for Klingspor Foundry, the best-known being the expressionist Neuland (1923) and modern Kabel (1927). If you were tired of Futura, Kabel was the antidote.

He was also a devoted practitioner and advocate of blackletter typefaces, including his own Kochschrift and Willhelm Klingspor Gotisch. They underscored his own sense of nationalism. “Even as a boy I wanted to become a proper real German. I hated anything that was foreign, and even as I was growing up I felt this was a sign of true loyalty,” he noted referring to the blackletter, which he wrote about frequently. He was master in the Offenbach Schreiber, which promoted handlettering and calligraphy, and expressed the revival of traditional lettering. This book, Rudolf Koch: A German Master (1938), typeset in his own blackletter and published four years after his passing, testifies to his dedication to the face. Hard to imagine he designed Kabel, which in the late 1960s was used for avant garde journals, including Evergreen Review.

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