Typeset In Japan
Darker Than Blue Magazine (Issue 57 – still in stock as a back issue at DTBOnline store!)) had an article detailing the lettering used on the Mk 3 Stormbringer logo and Made In Europe (a design now used by the group for all their merchandise).
The next most requested typeface we get asked about is the one used on the cover of Made In Japan in 1973. I had come to the conclusion that the titles on this cover had been drawn by hand. It was not uncommon for designers to do this in the ‘old days’ when looking for something different (the Black Sabbath 4 and Deep Purple In Rock titles were both drawn by hand for example).
But (not for the first time) I was wrong; it turns out that not only is it a real typeface, but quite an old one. So I thought we could look at both the typeface and the designer, Dutchman Sjoerd Hendrik de Roos.
Born in 1877, Sjoerd Hendrik de Roos is regarded by some of his fellow countrymen as the ‘first professional typographic designer in the Netherlands’, working with older designs but marrying these to the needs of modern book printing in the late C18 / early C19th. His early career saw him doing book design, and he was then hired by the Amsterdam Type Foundry in 1907, where he designed his first typefaces.
De Roos made his name with a typeface called Hollandse Mediaeval in 1912, which became the most widely used type in Holland. So widespread that during WW2 it was used by anti-German resistance organisations, as they knew it would be almost impossible for the Nazis to trace leaflets back to any particular printer.
In 1926 de Roos also set up has own publishing company, Heuvelpers (Hill Press), near Hilversum. He continued to work on new typefaces and in 1937 was commissioned to design lettering for a monument inscription. The result, made available to printers not long after, was Libra, based on a hand-drawn style of lettering known as uncial, used during the 7th and 8th centuries. Drawn by De Roos and executed by his assistant Dick Dooijes, harking back as it did the lettering was popular with advertisers and also with publishers of literary and historical works, particularly in Ireland.
Shortly afterwards, De Roos decided to rework the design in a more modern way, and the result two years later was a typeface he named Simplex. “Impeccably drawn, and a little crazy,” according to Jan Middendorp in his recent book Dutch Type. Dooijes made the final working drawings for it, and even he wasn’t quite sure about the results either. “It seemed like a strange fabrication…” And it is this typeface which was used on the Made In Japan sleeve for the band name and title.
De Roos moved into other areas after WW2, including painting and drawing, though he did develop some more typefaces. He died in 1962 by which time most of his type designs were forgotten. Libra however remained available through Linotype, and it must have been through one of their catalogues that the designer of Made In Japan spotted it and the spin-off Simplex.
I’m still not sure whoever did the UK Made In Japan artwork was able to actually access the type, or whether they simply copied the letters out of a type specimen book. Looking at one or two of the letters on the sleeve they do show slight inperfection which might be the result of it being drawn out by hand.
Following growing interest in De Roos’ work amongst designers and student, some of his designs were finally digitised in the early nineties in America and Germany, and if you fancy having the Made In Japan font yourself to use on your computer, it can now be purchased to download from http://www.fonts.com.
I must admit during work on the various Made In Japan reissues over the years I hunted high and low for the typeface (I have a collection of old type books myself), but unable to find any trace of it, came to the conclusion that it was a one-off. So it was quite a surprise when Tonny Steenhagen put me on to it in early 2010. And, Tonny being a Dutchman, quite appropriate.
That’s an Israeli pressing shown above. For an article on the sleeve and copies of it in the site, look here.
We also have a Made In Japan discography available.