Zebra (1965) is probably Hoefer’s most unusual metal typeface. This experiment with a brush face was designed as a partly black and partly grey gouache drawing. The optical effect of this typeface was completely new for a script face. The technical problem remained: how could the grey be produced for metal type? The punchcutters of D. Stempel AG found a solution. Master punchcutter August Rosenberg had recently retired from Stempel; however, his influence and expertise no doubt carried over to the craftsmen who cut Zebra. The areas that would be grey were made into fine parallel lines (hence the reason for naming the font Zebra). A simulated shades-of-grey effect had been accomplished previously with the Bifur font from the Piegnot foundry of Paris in 1929. But Hoefer’s face was not geometric like Bifur, and required a bit more subtlety. Trial proofs show a few different approaches to the shading with crosshatching, resulting in an almost halftoned effect. The final form used an even pattern of parallel lines at a 45° angle to play off of the slant of the script face angle. The new P22/IHOF release presents six separate fonts based on the original painted drawings and Stempel proofs. The solid version proofs showed a full stencil version, along with a solid version of the two-shade effect. A third hybridized version was the final released typeface. One additional variation that was not released by Stempel took its cues from the two-part metal Bifur fonts and Hoefer’s original two-color artwork. P22 Zebra A and B can be set in two separate colors and overlaid to achieve the original effect. Zebra A and C can be overlaid in a single color to look the same as Zebra LineCut, or two colors can be used for more unusual effects. Zebra A, B, and C can be combined in curious ways, but it’s not recommended without proper safety precautions in place.
Article reprinted from Interrobang 5, courtesy SOTA