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Extraordinary book about one of the most important figures in the history of Czech Republic.


About Jaroslav Benda

Jaroslav Benda is one of the extraordinary figures in the history of Czech type design. His extensive lifelong work is based on a strong and distinctive manuscript of original letterforms. Many of his works would become crucial for Czech Cubism and Art Deco. Equally important is his involvement in building the visual identity of the First Czechoslovak Republic.

Unfortunately, Benda’s work fell into oblivion for many decades and a comprehensive biography of Benda has never been published. Until now.

Nearly half a century after his death, we presented to the Czech public the fruit of five years of our work – Jaroslav Benda 1882–1970: Typografická úprava a písmo. Thanks to succesfull Kickstarter campaign, we can translate the book into English and make it accessible to all of you outside of the Czech-speaking world!


Story behind the book

If we Czechs want to show off our type design history, we might reach first for Vojtěch Preissig, who was the first to localize imported typefaces for Czechoslovakia, or perhaps for Ladislav Sutnar, who established the rules of new elementary typography and functionalist graphic design, or we would literally swear by Oldřich Menhart, whose original manuscript forms the very bedrock of much of our tradition.

But Czech type culture has also been long influenced and deeply shaped by an incredibly hard-working man – Jaroslav Benda!


Some examples of book covers designed by Jaroslav Benda during 1904–1969. Many of them were designed for his friend, publisher Jan Laichter, or for Dědictví Komenského publishing house. Scans & photos of the books from various archives.


Some examples of book covers designed by Jaroslav Benda during 1904–1969. Scans & photos of the books from various archives.

He was an important pillar who stood at the beginnings of contemporary Czech typography. Jaroslav Benda is one of the key figures in the history of Czech typography. He was an influencer who greatly inspired generations of type designers to come.

The book represents an historic first attempt to exhaustively capture his typographic work. There wasn’t a single professional publication about him, until now.


Some examples of book covers designed by Jaroslav Benda during 1904–1969. Scans & photos of the books from various archives.

English edition 2021!

We asked our best translators to oversee the translation of the book from Czech to English. The primary text will be translated by Douglas Arellanes, who will be responsible for a flowing American English version.

Douglas Arellanes has translated several books from Czech to English, including Tomáš Sedláček’s bestselling Economics of Good and Evil (Oxford Press, 2011) and Filip Blážek’s Posters of the Velvet Revolution (XYZ Publishing House, 2009).

The translation will be reviewed with a specific eye for typographic terminology by Elizabeth Spacilova, who has 25 years of translation experience and specializes in art and medicine. Her translation and editing work in typography and design includes TYPO 9010 (BiggBoss, 2015), Typo and 365 Typo and Oldřich Menhart’s “Rules of Calligraphy” for Codex – The Journal of Letterforms.


Given the nature of the original Czech text, the translation will be roughly one-third longer. This enlargement will be reflected in the book’s typesetting and its size. We estimate that the width of the book spine, which is 13.5 mm in the Czech edition, will increase to 17 mm. We welcome this expansion, and hope this “jam-packed” book will be to your liking as well.


Structure of the book


The sections

The first section of the book briefly outlines Benda’s personal and artistic development, while the second section, split into five subchapters, presents a thorough overview of his work based on numerous examples of his handwritten letterings and classifies it on the basis of dominant similarities with typographic categories into four main groups: sans-serif letterforms, serif letterforms, calligraphic and freehand letterforms, and typeface designs.

The book tracks how their expressions transform over the course of Benda’s work, investigating not only common letterform designs on paper, but also on lesser-used materials such as metal, stone, and glass.


Authors of the book

Jaroslav Benda 1882–1970 is a book by Petra Dočekalová et al. Petra is a member of the Prague-based Briefcase Type Foundry. The other members are Tomáš Brousil and Radek Sidun. The team is associated with UMPRUM, the Academy of Arts, Architecture and  Design in Prague, where they lead the Type Design and Typography studio.

Briefcase Type Foundry digitizes original font designs, offers original fonts by young type designers and help publish older, previously unreleased fonts created by Czech typographers and graphic designers. All members of the team also wrote, edited and designed TYPO9010 (2015).

  • Authors: Petra Dočekalová et al.

  • Concept: Tomáš Brousil, Petra Dočekalová, Radek Sidun, Jaroslav Tvrdoň

  • Texts: Tomáš Brousil, Petra Dočekalová, Karel Haloun, Šárka Šilarová, Jaroslav Tvrdoň, Lucie Urbánková

  • Special collaboration: Otakar Karlas, Lucie Urbánková

  • Graphic design: Radek Sidun

  • Review: Jan Solpera

We presented our book at TypeCon Minneapolis 2019. Attendees at TypeCon 2019 were among the first to see in its entirety the vast scale of Benda’s distinctive typefaces and inventive solutions, which have become contemporary again from today’s perspective. Sadly, we only had a Czech translation with us. Next time, we’d like to provide a fully translated copy.


Radek Sidun, Petra Dočekalová and Tomáš Brousil posing for their Briefcase Type Foundry photoshoot. Photo: Peter Fabo.


of the book

The Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague was founded in 1885. Throughout its existence it has ranked among the best educational institutions in the country.

It boasts a number of successful graduates who have gone on to become respected professionals, garnering acclaim beyond the borders of the Czech Republic. Its studios are all led by leading figures on the Czech art scene.

Prague’s UMPRUM, as one of the only schools in post-communist Europe, is ranked among the world’s top art schools.


Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Photo: UMPRUM

Project timeline


Reviews from

our friends & colleagues

Elizabeth Carey Smith

Director of Design in New York City

" To date, the English-speaking world has few references available for further study of the Czech forms and approaches to type design. The discovery of the complete works of Jaroslav Benda would be a monumentally important component for English reading type enthusiasts, typographers, type designers, and academics. As President of the Type Directors Club in New York City, I would welcome using our considerable platform to promote the distribution and study of these beautiful works and texts."

Šárka Šilarová

Benda’s granddaughter

" He was very principled and served as a model for many of us."

Veronika Burian


" Jaroslav Benda was an esteemed Czech book artist, typographer and educator of the 20th century. He was part of the Czech Avantgarde that flourished after 1918 during the first republic. His typefaces and unique typographic solutions for diacritical marks, so essential in many languages, influenced following generations of designers and remain an inspiration for today. Therefore I truly believe that a translation into English of the book in question would enrich the type community forming an important source of historical knowledge "

Tomáš Brousil

Suitcase Type Foundry

" Benda was one of the most tenacious and talented type designers in our country."

prof. Jan Solpera


" Radek Sidun’s graphic design is not just dynamic, but lucid as well. Good orientation is furthered through the use of bright colors. While the four-column typesetting presents certain problems with hyphenation on short lines, it does enable a variety of options for working with the images. The narrow column allows even small details to be inserted, which is very important for a publication focusing on typefaces. The book’s layout and cover design make it stand out from stereotypically serious monographs, moving it closer to a frequently-used study aid that the reader enjoys browsing through."


Preorder book

about Jaroslav Benda

Did you miss our Kickstarter campaign, but you still want to be among the first who will receive the book? Fill the form below and you can preorder your own english edition 2021 of Jaroslav Benda Book

Preorder form

Děkujeme za odeslání!

By submiting to the form, I hereby grant to Briefcase Type Foundry s.r.o., consent to the processing of my personal data to mail me news about kickstarter campaign and about Jaroslav Benda book.

  • Shipping costs are not included in price.

  • Shipping costs of the final book (aprox. 1,075 g) will not exceed $15–31 world-wide and will take 1–3 weeks to get to your mailbox.

  • Shipping costs of the 5 books for booksellers (5 kg +) will not exceed $50 world-wide and will take 1–3 weeks to get to your mailbox.