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Diotima (typeface)

Diotima is a serif typeface designed by Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse and published by Stempel.[a][1]

Diotima specimen.png
Designer(s)Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse
Date releasedc. 1951

Diotima has a relatively slender and wide design, light in colour and suitable for purposes such as decorative printing and headings rather than for body text.[2][3][4] Aspects of the roman recall Roman square capitals such as those on the Column of Trajan, such as the 'M' with no upper serifs (it has serifs in italic). The italic lower-case is relatively calligraphic in design with a 'single-story' 'g'. The design is named for the philosopher Diotima of Mantinea, perhaps appropriately highlighting its status as one of the few typefaces designed by a woman up to this point.

Diotima was released in the roman or regular style around 1951 and the italic around 1953, although Zapf-von Hesse had been working on the design for some years by this point.[5][6][7] The design was her first full typeface.[8] Her husband, Hermann Zapf, used it for typesetting their wedding announcement.[9]

As was common for work by Stempel at this time, the original release was crafted by the punchcutter August Rosenberger. Stempel later released Ariadne-Initialen (Ariadne Initials), a set of swash capitals to complement it. The design was later reissued by Linotype.

In 2001, San Francisco Public Library held an exhibition on Hermann and Gudrun Zapf's work, showcasing early specimens of Diotima.[10]


Diotima was digitised early on in the period of digital fonts, with releases by Linotype (which had inherited the rights from Stempel) and Adobe.

In 2008-9, Zapf-von Hesse and Akira Kobayashi of Linotype released Diotima Classic, a new interpretation. It is in light, regular, bold and heavy weights and italics.[11] Linotype described the 'regular' weight as corresponding to the metal type after ink spread, and the light as analogous to the previous digital version (that shown right).[12] The bold and heavy weights were new additions. The width was somewhat reduced in roman and widened in italic.[1]


  1. ^ a b Shaw, Paul. "Diotima Classic". Print. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  2. ^ Macmillan, Neil (2006). An A-Z of Type Designers. Yale University Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-300-11151-7.
  3. ^ Jaspert, W. P.; Berry, W. Turner; Johnson, Alfred Forbes (1970). The Encyclopaedia of Type Faces (4 ed.). London: Blandford Press. p. 70.
  4. ^ "Diotima Antiqua". Linotype. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Diotima Classic – Gudrun Zapf von Hesse recreates a post-war favorite". Linotype. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  6. ^ Shaw, Paul. "Zapfiana no. 4: The Typefaces of Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse". Paul Shaw Letter Design. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Unseen Hands: Women Printers, Binders and Book Designers". Princeton University Library. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  8. ^ Hesse, Gudrun Zapf von; Batty, Mark (2002). Gudrun Zapf von Hesse: bindings, handwritten books, type faces, examples of lettering and drawings (English language ed., deluxe ed.). West New York, N.J.: Mark Batty. pp. 9–10. ISBN 9780971568723.
  9. ^ Haley, Allan (1990). ABC's of type. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 81–3. ISBN 9780823000531.
  10. ^ Taylor, Susie. "Calligraphic Type Design in the Digital Age: Honoring Friends". San Francisco Public Library. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Klassiker in neuem Gewand" (PDF). Desktop Dialog: Das Publishing-Magazin. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Diotima Classic". Linotype. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  1. ^ Zapf-von Hesse married her husband Hermann Zapf in 1951, around the time Diotima was first released. Her married name is used throughout this article for consistency.

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