Typographer Hermann Zapf dies aged 96

Zapf created typefaces including Optima, Palatino, Zapf Dingbats and Zapfino.



Hermann Zapf working in 1967
Hermann Zapf working in 1967

Hermann Zapf, who created typefaces including Optima, Palatino and Zapf Dingbats, has died at the age of 96.

Zapf was born in Nuremburg in 1918, just days before the end of World War One. He worked as a retoucher and typographer and also taught himself calligraphy.

In 1948 he designed the Palatino typeface for Linotype and in 1952 he created Optima for the Stempel Foundry.

From the 1960s onwards Zapf worked on typography for computer programs. He set up Design Processing International in 1977 with Aaron Burns and Herb Lubalin to work on typographical computer software.

In 1978 Zapf created the Zapf Dingbats typeface, for International Typeface Corporation. This typeface was included in several early computers, including Apple models.

His 1998 Zapfino calligraphic typeface, developed for Linotype, features in Apple’s Mac OS X and iOS operating systems.

Zapf lived most of his later life in Darmstadt, Germany, and died on 4 June.

In the 1960s and ‘70s Zapf created several typefaces for Hallmark Cards. The company also commissioned this 1967 video of Zapf, which shows him working and explaining the basics of calligraphy.

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  • Peter Rowan June 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm


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