KTF02: Rublena

Rublena is the most used black grotesk on the ex-USSR terrain. It originated at the end of the XIX century in the city of Danzig (German Empire) as Zeitungs-Grotesque. Ever since this metal type was copied and distributed all around the globe in a broad variety of names and versions: Zeitungs-Grotesque, Fette Steinschrift, Breite fette Grotesque or Газетный Древній Черный to name a few. According to researcher Dr. Dan Reynolds, “it was once the protype for a heavy sans serif in German type-making.”*

Rublena is an “orphan child” of the metal type era. This type came out just one year before copyright law (“Geschmacksmustergesetz”) went into effect in 1876, which predestined the font to be bootlegged by different foundries, let alone the designer’s name remained unknown. Due to the high commercial success, some foundries cut Cyrillic versions, and the font quickly became popular in the Russian Empire. After the October Revolution of 1917, all the types were expropriated from private enterprises and became state property. According to the newly established plan-based economy, all the industries including printing and type-making were revised. Not only to save lead but also because of aesthetical reasons, many types were cast out and remelted. For this, a commission ОСТ 1337 has been convened, consisting of printing- and type specialists. Along with the other 31 types, Rublena passed the selection criteria and entered the Soviet era. Whenever typeset, this font has always served a solid comradery to the broad typographic tasks, convincing the viewer with its strong character, offering radical contrast between headline and body text/ photographs/ illustrations.

Knowing Rublena literally since childhood and being convinced of its everlasting visual strength, we aimed to re-evaluate it and produce a modern titling font. Rublena is not a revival of any particular source, but rather a free and reduced interpretation of an old protype. It takes the best from our research covering all possible artifacts from metal- and phototype sources to hand-painted posters and even “Nu Pogodi” cartoon and shines to you in a new build, ready for digital use in 2021.

KTF Rublena was developed by Yevgen Anfalov.