Berlingska Stilgjuteriet, Letterform of the Nineteenth Century

Project: Dissertation


The thesis is a study of the Berling type foundry in Lund c. 1830–1980. Berling was for a long time one of the largest suppliers of printing types for manual typesetting in Scandinavia. The aim of the project is to write a critical history on the developments of typeface production in Sweden from the mid-1800s to the 1970s, based on the case of Berling. A central aim is to investigate the consequences of industrialization on the business of typefounding during the period between two radical technological shifts: the introduction of casting machines in the 1840s and the emergence of phototypesetting in the 1950s. These shifts were crucial both to Berling’s growth during the nineteenth century, and to the downturn that later affected the entire industry. A key question is how the production of Berling’s typefaces depended on international networks: how letterforms circulated, through trade and not least piracy, between companies and regional markets. Furthermore, the project is an attempt to investigate how the modernization of the typefoundry led to altered conceptions of typefaces and letterforms. As a result of higher demands on marketing, letterforms were charged with new meanings, increasing the narrative significance of typefaces in graphic communication. Professional roles also shifted during this period, meaning that the design and the manufacturing of typefaces became more separated, not only in practice but also in historiography. These developments will be analyzed as part of broader changes in society's views on commodity production, the nationstate, language, history, and modernity.
Effective start/end date2020/09/01 → …