With a little bit of sleuthing and some dumb luck, my wife Linda and I recently managed to find the birthplace of Helvetica. That’s right: the very place where Helvetica’s famous linotype matrices were first produced. Located in Münchenstein, Switzerland (just outside of Basel) the Haas Type Foundry moved into their new production plant in 1921.
Haas began operations in 1580 and continued all the way up to 1989. That 409-year run made it the oldest type foundry in the world. The book you see in the foreground above (Helvetica Forever, Lars Müller Publishers) shows two small photographs of the Haas Type Foundry’s interior and exterior. Today, the facility is home to the Rudolf Steiner Schule Münchenstein, appropriately located at Gutenbergstrasse 1.
What can I say? It was a religious experience.