Back story: This revival of Berthold Wolpe’s energetic, quirky typefaces Albertus, Fanfare, Pegasus, Tempest, and Sachsenwald—all designed in the late 1930s/early 1940s—pays homage to a fairly unknown and unconventional type designer. Wolpe’s work helped define popular visual culture in mid-century UK, appearing everywhere from TV shows, movie posters, and titles to music albums, video games, and book jackets (1,500 covers for publisher Faber & Faber alone!). Fanfare spells out the title of the 1961 edition of the Bond series’ Goldfinger by Ian Fleming, and Albertus appeared on signage across post-war London, lending the rebuilt city a strong new identity. It could also be seen in 1950s product packaging for the British supermarket Sainsbury’s and on album covers for The Smiths, The Beach Boys, and New Order. Monotype’s Toshi Omagari updated the retro look of the typefaces with precision and respect for the originals’ attention to detail.
Why’s it called Wolpe? You get three guesses.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? The original typefaces all came about over the span of a few years. Despite the fact that the alphabets seem dramatically different at first glance, they share a humanistic quality while embracing their individual oddities. Pegasus, a text face that also does nicely as display, is a great example of this: none of the serifs are identical to one another. “Working on this collection taught me that consistency is overrated,” Omagari says.
Different typefaces sometimes share letters, too—the Tempest capital M resembles the cap M in the Albertus and Fanfare typefaces, and Sachsenwald’s numerals are reminiscent of those in the Albertus and Pegasus designs. A large part of the effort to revive the collection focused on replacing serifs, curves, angles, and adornments that Wolpe had to condense or remove to accommodate the typesetting capabilities of his time. Modern digital typeface technology gave Omagari more opportunities to refine intricate design details impossible to achieve in Wolpe’s day.
What should I use it for? The Wolpe Collection represents an opportunity for designers to have some fun mixing mid-20th century British quirk into their clean 21st century layouts. The typefaces’ appeal stretches across a wide range of digital and print applications, including advertising, branding campaigns, publishing, and video games.