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4–7 September, 2019

Friday, 6 September | | Miraikan Hall

Talk | Presented in English

Ferdinand Theinhardt’s Legacy in Tibetan Typography

Berlin based punchcutter and typefounder Ferdinand Theinhardt (1820–1906) is usually associated with the design of early sans serif typefaces. Yet little is known of the pivotal role he played in printing works in characters for Tibetan and other writing systems of the world. Not much has been written about Theinhardt, especially not in a language other than German. This presentation sheds light on Theinhardt’s life and work, and focuses particularly on the design and typographic use of his Tibetan typeface. Theinhardt’s Tibetisch can be regarded as a faithful interpretation, and most successful representation, of the Tibetan U-chan script in metal type. From the moment it was created —around 1880—this specific font was met with great approval, was distributed to international printing houses and type foundries, and appeared in publications all over the world. It became the standard typeface for printing Tibetan texts, and (in)directly influenced other type foundries and printers, up to the advent of the personal computer. This talk offers a unique view on Ferdinand Theinhardt's creativity and entrepreneurship: how his Tibetan typeface emerged in the multiscript printing practices of nineteenth-century Europe, and how its typographic qualities remain relevant for contemporary Tibetan font design.