An exhibition and symposium at the Grolier Club

New York
February 20 – April 27, 2019

2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of both Hermann Zapf and Gudrun Zapf von Hesse. Hermann Zapf’s contribution to type design and calligraphy is immeasurable. His typographic work alone has greatly expanded the language of letterforms through ubiquitous fonts such as Palatino, Optima, and Zapfino (to name a few). Zapf’s typefaces have become among the most used – and most admired – of all time and he is arguably the most important type designer of the 20th century.

No less important, though perhaps less well known, is his work in typography and book design. Zapf has also been at the forefront of type technology. His Marconi alphabet design was the first typeface ever created specifically for digital typography.

Also noteworthy is Zapf’s calligraphic art. It first became widely disseminated in his writing manual Pen and Graver (1949), and has since been seen in numerous books and exhibitions, and has been a major influence on generations of calligraphers.

In 1951 Hermann Zapf married Gudrun von Hesse. She is a master in her own right and across several disciplines. In addition to a remarkable career in the fields of calligraphy and type design, she is recognized as one of the finest bookbinders of the 20th and 21st centuries.

This retrospective commemorates the 100th birthdays and influential work and careers of Hermann Zapf and Gudrun Zapf von Hesse.

The show draws mainly on two collections: The Melbert B. Cary Jr. Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Dr. Steven K. Galbraith is curator, and the private collection of Jerry Kelly, a leading calligrapher, book designer, type designer and typographer, who has co-curated the show with Dr. Galbraith.

A major biography of Hermann Zapf and a complete checklist of the exhibition will be published to coincide with the show. In addition, a film on the work of Gudrun and Hermann Zapf, Alphabet Magic, will be screened during the run of the exhibition.

Free lunchtime exhibition tours:
 March 13 and April 12, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm. The Curators will lead free public tours of the exhibition. No reservations necessary.

Zapf centennial symposium

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at 5.30 p.m.
The Grolier Club
47 East 60th Street, New York, NY


Robert Bringhurst 
OC, D.Litt., Canadian poet, typographer, and linguist

David Pankow
Curator Emeritus, Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection, RIT

Ferdinand Ulrich
typographer, writer and educator, occasional type designer,
PhD student at the University of Reading

Julian Waters
lettering designer, international teacher & lecturer

Free and open to the public. 

RSVP to Maev Brennan,, (212) 838-6690

Co-sponsored by American Printing History Association-New York Chapter,
Center for Book Arts, Society of Scribes, Type Directors Club, Typophiles, and
the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology