Grant Carruthers
Grant Carruthers

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Typespec for ‘The Valley of the Unknowing’, a novel set in East Germany in the 1980′s. Designed by my colleague Joyce Yee and myself.

The book was set in Drescher Grotesk for titles and Excelsior for body text. Both were commonly used typefaces in the German Democratic Republic.

Life for designers (and everyone else) in the GDR was frugal. Typeface licences were very expensive and type designers in the GDR were instead ordered to design their own versions. Drescher Grotesk, originally designed by Arno Drescher around 1932 and redrawn by Karl-Heinz Lange as Super Grotesk at VEB Typoart (the state owned type foundry), was the East German response to Futura. Excelsior, designed for optimal readability, was most likely a very close copy of the original 1930’s version by Chauncey H. Griffith.