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Walbaum

Walbaum

Justus Erich Walbaum (1768–1837) was the son of a clergyman, and a self-taught typographer. After completing an apprenticeship with a spice merchant and confectioner in Braunschweig, he first worked manufacturing baking tins. Later, he became an engraver – of musical scores, among other things – and learned to cut punches. In 1796, he opened his own type foundry in Goslar, moving it to the artistically-minded town of Weimar in 1803.

In 1828, he handed the business over to his son Theodor, who tragically predeceased him eight years later. To safeguard his life’s work, Walbaum sold the foundry to F.A. Brockhaus in Leipzig. Decades later, in around 1917, the original Walbaum matrices were purchased by H. Berthold in Berlin. A highlight among them was the valuable Walbaum Roman type cut around 1900.


Justus Erich Walbaum, 1768–1837

It is considered to be the most important specifically German example of neo-classicist type. It is somewhat narrower than Bodoni, with less contrast and stronger main and hairline strokes. Günter Gerhard Lange at Berthold helped to re-popularise the font in the late 1970s. Two famous Walbaum users are Wired and the Berliner Zeitung.
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