The Weiss™ font family was designed by the accomplished typographer and designer Emil Rudoph Weiss and was published in 1926 by the Bauer foundry in Frankfurt, Germany. Its letterforms have origins in the Renaissance Chancery script style and the font has been popular in book publishing since its release.
Weiss’ creator, Emil Rudolph Weiss, was born in Lahr, Germany in 1875. He studied painting in Paris alongside the famous Toulouse Lautrec and initially had poetic aspirations, even setting his texts to music by Sibelius and Kretschmar. The calligraphy he used to produce the fonts he later became famous for was mostly self-taught and for the majority of his life he claimed to be more interested in water color painting than producing typefaces.
Weiss was hired by the Bauer Type Foundry in Frankfurt, Germany in the early half of the twentieth century and created his numerous typefaces there, including Weiss Fractur – solving the problem of a legible font for German textbooks.
The Chancery font style behind Weiss originated during the Renaissance and had its roots in the work of a number of prominent calligraphers of the time, including Ludovico Vicentino degli Arrighi, Nicolas Jenson and Franceso Griffo. The earliest typefaces sprung out of a hand-drawn background and became the basis for the publication of the very first mass produced books.
With its sloping serifs and top heavy design, the influences of this early styling are apparent all over the Weiss design. Since the letter strokes are wider on the top than the bottom, the font is given a unique and strikingly elegant gait. The same qualities make the typeface instantly recognizable among others of a similarly influenced background.
Over the past century, Weiss has been used in a large number of book binding and publishing endeavors including the famous Pan magazine. The 1931 book Three Months in Spain was an early release set in Weiss-Antiqua#8482; and received considerable acclaim from book clubs in Europe. The 1932 publication The Four Gospels was targeted at an American audience – the only book Weiss ever produced aimed at US markets.
In modern times, the promotional material for the 2009 film The Time Traveler’s Wife was set in Weiss-Antiqua, the kerning adjusted to include a dot-less “i” in the word “time.”
Weiss was a prolifically creative individual not only in his typography but also in his graphic design and his poetic art. In his work with Pan magazine, he contributed a great deal of design work and his influence can be seen extensively in earlier issues. He also worked with a number of other magazines and publishing houses including Insel, even before its evolution into a major producer of written material.
In his book binding, Weiss was often responsible for the entire design including the cover. Typography was the icing on the cake; the continuing legacy of the designer’s craft that can be used in the modern world.