Erbar (typeface)

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Category Sans-serif
Classification Geometric sans-serif
Designer(s) Jakob Erbar
Foundry Ludwig & Mayer
Date released 1922-30
Re-issuing foundries Linotype, Continental Type Founders Association

In typography, Erbar or Erbar-Grotesk was the first geometric sans-serif typeface ever created. Designer Jakob Erbar's aim was to design a printing type which would be free of all individual characteristics, possess thoroughly legible letter forms, and be a purely typographic creation. His conclusion was that this could only work if the type form was developed from a fundamental element, the circle.[1]

The font[edit]

Erbar was originally cast by the Ludwig & Mayer foundry of Frankfurt, Germany, with machine composition matrices later being offered by German and then American Linotype.[2][3] Erbar was later exported to the United States and sold by the Continental Type Founders Association.[4] A digital version is sold today by Linotype.

Erbar was cast in four weights with italic and condensed faces. Other variants were offered:

  • Lumina, an open face version.
  • Lux, a version with contrasting outlines.
  • Phosphor, an ultra-bold/inline display version similar to Neuland.[5]

Influence on other typefaces[edit]

The success of Erbar inspired the creation of many new geometric sans-serif faces by competing foundries including Futura, Metro, Vogue, Spartan, Twentieth Century, and Century Gothic among others. Of these, Futura proved to be the most successful and this, along with Jakob Erbar's early death, the small size of Erbar's Ludwig & Mayer Foundry and the international reach of Futura's Bauer Type Foundry, lead to the misapprehension that Futura, and not Erbar, was the first of the geometric sans-serif faces.

Phosphor, an ultra-bold and inline display adaptation of Erbar similar to Neuland was very popular itself, as was its inline version, and several revivals exist independently of Erbar rereleases.[6] Phosphate, an unofficial revival created by Red Rooster Fonts, is bundled with OS X.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tracy, Walter.Letters of Credit: a View of Type Design. Gordon Fraser, 1998
  2. ^ Jaspert, Pincus, Berry and Johnson.The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983. Pp. 269-70
  3. ^ Neil Macmillan (2006). An A-Z of Type Designers. Yale University Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-300-11151-7. 
  4. ^ Specimen Book of Continental Types, Continental Type Founders Association, N.Y.C., 1929.
  5. ^ Jaspert, Pincus, Berry and Johnson.The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983. Pp. 269-70
  6. ^ "Phosphor MT". MyFonts. Monotype. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "Phosphate". MyFonts. Red Rooster Collection. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  • Friedl, Ott, and Stein, Typography: an Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Throughout History. Black Dog & Levinthal Publishers: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7.
  • Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson. The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983. ISBN 0-7137-1347-X.

External links[edit]