An independent archive of typography.

“For Concrete Construction” F. Bradford & Co Ltd ad

Photo(s) by mikeyashworth. Imported from Flickr on Jan 9, 2020. Artwork published in .
“For Concrete Construction” F. Bradford & Co Ltd ad
Source: Uploaded to Flickr by mikeyashworth and tagged with “holla”. License: All Rights Reserved.

Oddly after a recent find, another advert for the same company and in the same style. A rather fine advert for the north London concern of Bradford, extolling their work and especially the use of reinfoced concrete frame work with pre-cast units, a style of building that was gaining much favour in post-war years as concrete construction technology improved aided to an extent by continuing steel shortages that did affect building programmes. The board and ink illustrations, probably ‘lifted’ from photos, gives quite a detailed impression of the stages of such construction.


  • Holla
  • Gill Sans




Artwork location

3 Comments on ““For Concrete Construction” F. Bradford & Co Ltd ad”

  1. Most of the type is exactly what I would expect to find in a 1940s ad from London: Gill Sans in extrabold (for the company name), roman, and italic styles. The letterforms used for the slogan, however, are a surprise. They come from Holla, a lesser known design by Rudolf Koch.

    This stand-alone cursive emulates informal writing with a broad-nib pen. It has condensed and almost upright letterforms. Holla was first cast by the Klingspor foundry in Germany in 1932. Among the extras were the usual ligatures, an alternate s, underlines, and a set of expressive swash caps. Some of the (standard) caps exhibit features derived from blackletter, like the J with middle bar, the asymmetrical W, or the F that looks like an enlarged lowercase f.

    The latter apparently was not acceptable for English eyes: The F in this ad has a proper roof. This might be an alternate form added for markets abroad, or an ad-hoc modification.

    Holla in Klimsch-Kartei (Karte Nr. 14), reproduced from Hans Reichardt: Bleisatzschriften des 20. Jahrhunderts.

  2. I have a Klingspor specimen printed in Germany in English for the British market, and it has that 'F’ with a two-way roof. (There’s no full character set or discussion of the typeface’s features; the only line which shows an 'F’ is 48pt.) Its appearance isn’t a total shock: I’ve recently been reading through the Penrose Annuals of the thirties and their annual reviews of type design by Robert Harling, and a high proportion of the display types reviewed are German, a lot scripts. I haven’t yet read the 1932 issue, but a few years later Holla gets written up as “perhaps the most interesting type design of recent years…a word set in Holla has all the character and distinction of a boldly written hand, and for all printing requirements there are no chinks of light; everything is compact and firm…it has not been used in England with any great degree of success, but some day somebody will use Holla as it is meant to be used, and show its fullest potentialities.” Monotype released quite a few scripts in this period, but Harling thought them weak or weakly marketed–three pages before he explicitly says “to introduce Monotype Script No. 385 into competition with foreign scripts is pathetic”, and it seems a few years on they still hadn’t learned their lesson: he questioned whether “Series 351” couldn’t have been released with a more alluring name. Stephenson Blake and the other British type foundries just about clinging on at this point seem not to have been active in the area of fashionable display types; they’re never mentioned. In contrast a few years later, Gustav Stresow writing on “German Typography To-Day” expresses more concern about Koch’s work, calling it “delightfully tempered typography, showing the highest integrity of craftsmanship but evading the problem of advertising appeal and sales-minded display, rather than solving them.” The entire issue is printed in Walbaum, incidentally, another typeface Monotype had revived after imports from Germany had proven fashionable. And a few pages later Harling again seems to think Holla has reached its fullest potentialities: “Sketch, Penflow, Pentape, Allegro, have arrived…all these scripts are obviously trying to break into the market discovered by Holla and Trafton, but none of them has the sparkle or novelty which causes the typographer to reach instantly for the telephone.” The politics of Germany in the thirties are discussed in a very tentative manner-Stresow talks about a change in applied arts from modernism to traditionalism with “a sudden vehemence” without spelling out more; the British writers discussing Germany don’t mention it at all.

  3. Oh, that’s wonderful! Thank you for confirming that there was indeed such an F. A German post-WWII specimen by Klingspor includes a glyph set without any alternates, swash caps, or underlines. U and W are here shown in revised, tamer form.

    Thanks also for pointing me to Harling’s article in Penrose Annual. Chris Mullen has digitized several issues of the journal and kindly shares them as part of his incredible Visual Telling of Stories, including the 1936 annual.

    Detail from Robert Harling’s “Experiments and Alphabets” in Penrose Annual, 1936. Scan courtesy of Chris Mullen/VTS.

    Monotype Script No. 385 is also known as Wenceslas Script. The creation of Czech artist Karel Svolinský, it indeed is not on par with the listed imports. I see you located and linked the respective typeface pages for the mentioned faces – thanks! Sketch is the English name of Skizze (Ludwig & Mayer, 1935), and Trafton (Script) is Quick.

    Harling explicitly describes Gill Sans Cameo Ruled (1935) as an original design, in contrast to the “sad copies of good foreign faces”. I’d argue it belongs to the copies as well, compare to Schaefer-Versalien (Schriftguss, 1927).

Post a comment