Movable Type

Once I could be parachuted blindfold anywhere in the world, take the blindfold off and look around, and I could see the shop facias and newspapers, and I would know where I was just from the typeface. I’d see the type of Roger Excoffon and know that I had landed in France. But now a typeface is released in Tokyo or Berlin or London and it’s gone around the world overnight, and it has completely lost its sense of origin.

— Matthew Carter

An unexpected side effect. The Nazis standardized type faces in countries they’d conquered. To increase readability (and compliance) in occupied populations, they eschewed the traditional Gothic fonts associated with old Germany, in favor of Roman-style type. Even after they lost the war, this standardization persisted throughout Europe, effectively eliminating identifiable, regional type varieties. Eventually, modern Swiss typefaces like Helvetica and Univers spread around the world, robbing Carter of his ability to pinpoint nationality with type design. (see Just My Type by Simon Garfield)