Zapf at 96

Last Saturday, November 8, was Hermann Zapf’s 96th birthday. He has something like 61 type face designs to his credit and his field of work is amazing and wonderful. As a college student, I was enthralled to watch him during several lectures write the most elegant letter forms on the backboard using chalk. Our instructor, Jack Stauffacher, in his own right a splendid designer and printer, had invited Hermann to be a guest lecturer and we lowly printers were invited to attend the series of lectures presented to the fine arts students. Jack thought so highly of Zapf’s chalk board illustrations that he wouldn’t let the school janitors clean the blackboards. Only when the chalk started to fall off did he consent to a cleaning.

Jack had probably some of the first metal Optima that Zapf designed in the United States. We were allowed to hand set with it only under close scrutiny. Jack also had castings of Zapf’s Hunt Roman, which I believe he still has, that was cast for the private use of the Rachel McMaster Hunt library at Carnegie Tech.

After my brief but intensely interesting encounter with Zapf, over 50 years ago, I have had a keen interest in him and his work. Age takes it toll on all of us, but I noted with pleasure that he has made it to 96.


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Thanks, Fritz, for that rich recollection.

Discovering HZ’s stylings in ‘69 eventually led me
to a design career. I can’t think of anyone with a more
refined sense of form & the skill to render it.

I never visited Carnegie but I got to meet
Jack Stauffacher at RIT during one of HZ’s
summer sessions in the 80’s. I cannot recall
the content of the conversation
but certainly remember enjoying it.
He was one affable chap.