DIN 16518

Yes, as in DIN the typeface.

Before we get started, we probably need to spend a little time explaining the inner workings of the Deutsches Institut für Normung (in English, German Institute of Standardization). Basically, it’s a national organization in charge of standardization. Currently, they have around thirty thousand DIN Standards, that cover nearly every field of technology. One of those systems of standardization is a Typeface Classification System.

DIN just wants to organize the world.

The original system, published in 1959, was incredibly similar to the Vox/ATypI collaboration. The only difference was that it was considerably more complicated. The revised system is the one we’ll be discussing, called DIN 16518.

Being a German system, DIN 16518 pretty much decided the standard in subclassification of Blackletter typefaces. In fact, their simple sub-four breakdown of Textura, Rotunda, Schwabacher and Fraktur is often copied in classification systems the came after it.

Examples of Textura, Rotunda, Schwabacher and Fraktur

After the Vox/ATypI, a standard in Old Style Serif sub-classifications started to develop. It continues here with DIN 16518. There is Venetian, for humanist serif types developed generally in the 15th century; French, (known as Geralde in Vox/ATypI), for faces that came in the next two centuries that have more contrast between the thickness and thinness of strokes. And finally there is Transitionals for the period in the 18th century where the axis of curves was often vertical and serifs were unbrack-
eted. These are also the typefaces with the greatest contrast between thick and thin before the Moderns began. For any and all transitional related questions, see Baskerville.

With DIN 16518, all Sans Serif faces are organized into a single category, Grotesk, even though sub-classifications to that category had already begun to be determined (and pretty much standard after hi, hello again, Vox/ATypI).

The topical category leaves a little to be desired. Handwritten scripts are the only topical called out with their own section, and it seems that anything left that doesn’t fit the mold is dumped into the adorably named Roman Variants.

Kudos to your blackletter classifications, Germany. But by the time in the 60s, we’re gearing up for the golden age of the Mad Men and then some great silly psychedelic display types. The era of Gutenberg (and Blackletters) is over, dudes.

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