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Carl Ernst Hinkefuss papers, 1903-1970 (bulk 1912-1933)

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Finding aid for the Carl Ernst Hinkefuss papers, 1903-1970, bulk 1912-1933

Scope and Content of Collection

The modern, reductive trademark and logo emerged in Germany in the early years of the twentieth century. Working both independently and with his business partner Wilhelm Deffke in the firm Wilhelmwerk, Carl Ernst Hinkefuss was among the early commercial graphic designers in the field of advertising, who specialized in trademark and logo design. Linked philosophically and aesthetically to the ideas of the German Werkbund and subsequently the Bauhaus, Hinkefuss developed a very simple style that sought to integrate the worlds of commerce and design. Hinkefuss and Deffke did not draw or paint their designs, but created images in the form of figurative, abstract, or typological cut-outs in colored paper mounted on a background sheet. These images were so visually powerful that they could either be reduced to a small logo or enlarged to a full-page brochure. Using these defining images, Hinkefuss created what we now call "brand identities," designing not only the stationery for businesses, but also the invoices, envelopes, packaging, and advertising.

Materials relating to Hinkefuss's professional career comprise Series I of the archive. Examples of his graphic design work form the majority of the material and include assembled sample portfolios, hundreds of loose original designs, and letterpress print blocks. Aside from his commercial brand identity work, Hinkefuss also produced two significant publications for the world of graphic arts. He published and edited Qualität, a journal promoting industrial and graphic design, which became more and more modern, especially after Hinkefuss began working with a printing house in Dessau, shortly after the Bauhaus had moved to that city as well. Das Vogelparadies (1929), a modern children's book showing birds rendered in simple but bright, colorful forms on a black background, is often incorrectly associated with the Bauhaus. The archive includes a photocopy of the complete run of Qualität, supplementing the repository's more limited original copies, as well as ephemera and proofs relating to this and other publications to which Hinkefuss contributed. Of particular interest are two wooden Bauhaus-style toys, reproductions of the pelican from Mein Vogelparadies, which served as exemplars and promotional items for the book. A small selection of professional correspondence, photographs of Hinkefuss's studio and displays of his work, and miscellaneous materials round out the series.

A limited quantity of photographs and other personal material forms Series II. Of particular interest in this series is the documentation of Hinkefuss's trip to the United States in 1913. In part a vacation, the trip's professional research component is shown by the extensive series of postcards documenting the facilities of the Curtis Publishing Company of Philadelphia.


Organized in two series: ,
Series I: Professional papers, 1912-1969, undated
Series II: Personal papers, 1903-1970, undated

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