Font of Trivia

The font on the cover of The First Four Notes is called Humboldt Fraktur. Created in 1938 by German designer J. A. Hieronymus Rhode, better known as Hiero Rhode, it was one of the last new blackletter fonts to appear in Germany before the Nazi regime mandated a switch to Roman fonts, partially because blackletter would impede communication with newly-occupied territories, and partially because Adolf Hitler was annoyed by it.

Humboldt Fraktur was named for the Prussian explorer, naturalist, and writer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), whose accounts of a 1799-1804 voyage to the Americas made him one of the most celebrated scientific celebrities of his time. Humboldt was present at the unveiling of the Beethoven statue in Bonn in 1845, at which the royal family and other dignitaries were situated behind the statue, such that, when it was unveiled, Beethoven seemed to be turning his back on them. Humboldt, the story goes, smoothed over the faux pas by noting that Beethoven had always been ill-mannered anyway.

The cover of The First Four Notes was designed by Peter Mendelsund, whose visual acuity is rivaled by his writing.

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