Hans Peter Schmoller


‘Bookman, artist, scholar’ (Morris, 1987) Jewish. Born 9 April 1916 in Berlin. His father (Hans) an eminent paediatrician, pioneer of infant welfare clinics; mother (Marie) had a small business based on folded-paper lampshades as well as window display. Schmoller went to progressive schools where he was active in athletics. In 1933 he hoped to study art history but entry for Jews to universities was banned. Applied to become student of Rudolf Koch but Koch insisted on prior craft training.

October 1933: began four-year apprenticeship as compositor in the Jewish book-printing firm of Siegfried Scholem. Studied fine typography on day release at the Staatliche Kunstbibliothek and in evenings with Johannes Boehland at the Höhere Graphische Fachschule. At Scholem also trained in machine composition and in litho and stereotyping departments. February 1934: member of Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein. September 1937: passed journeyman’s examination.

October 1937-February 1938: student in the Keyboard and Caster course, Monotype Technical School, London. Knowing that he could not return to Germany, he considered a future in South America, Australia or New Zealand. A fortunate opportunity unexpectedly arose in November when Hans’s instructor received a letter from the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society in Basutoland (now Lesotho) asking if anyone at the school was available to take a temporary job as manager of the missionary press. Hans applied for the job immediately and was accepted. In December he returned to Berlin where he saw his parents for the last time. (They were deported about October 1942; his father later died at Terecin, his mother in Auschwitz.)

March 1938: arrived at Morija in March 1938 as Overseer of the composing room and was soon producing fine Curwen-style publications, certificates, etc. Organized international book exhibitions in Johannesburg and Cape Town. 1944: co-founder of the Imprint Society for the Advancement of the Graphic Arts in South Africa. His growing reputation as fine designer and typographer recognized in New York and London. July 1940-April 1942: interned as enemy alien. 1946: became British subject.

Early 1947: arrived in England. May 1947: married Dorothée Carson-Carlebach (d. 1948). July 1947: became Manager of the bindery and typographic assistant to the Director Oliver Simon at The Curwen Press, Plaistow, London, where he designed many handsome catalogues and book jackets.

1949: replaced Jan Tschichold as Typographer at Penguin Books. 1950: married Tanya Kent. From 1956: Head of Production ; from 1960: Director. Retired at age 60 in 1976. Major design accomplishments at Penguin: Buildings of England, Pelican History of Art, The Complete Pelican Shakespeare (Gold Medal, Leipzig). Known as ‘Half-Point Schmoller’ (HPS: Hans Peter Schmoller) by typographers and printers for his superbly critical eye. During his Penguin years he played a crucial and unprecedented role in postwar British typography. 1955: participant in the international Bible typography project Liber Librorum; spoke on Aldus in ‘Some famous typographers’ series, St Bride Foundation Institute. 1956, 1957: chief examiner in Typography to the City and Guilds of London Institute. 1956: collaborated on The Times Printing Supplement. Before and after his retirement from Penguin he collected decorated papers on travels with his wife Tanya who had begun the collection. 1982: jury member, International Book Design Exhibition, Leipzig. Died London 25 September 1985, a week after the opening of the ‘Fifty Penguin Years’ exhibition, London, a celebration of the achievements of both Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books, and Hans Schmoller.

‘Hans Schmoller was one of the last species of typographers with a profound background of the history of types and with an eye nobody could fool.’ (Hermann Zapf)

Memberships and awards: Double Crown Club, London, 1949-85 (President 1968); Corresponding Member, Bund Deutscher Büchkunstler (Federal Germany), 1965; Graphic Arts Award, Printing Industries of America, 1970; Gold and Bronze Medals, International Book Design Exhibition, Leipzig, 1971; Francis Minns Memorial Award, London, 1974; Royal Designer for Industry, 1976. Lectured on Penguin, and decorated papers, in England, Canada and USA. The Schmoller Collection of Decorated Papers is in the Manchester Metropolitan University, England.

Writings by

    1947-59: ‘Designer of Many Types’, review of A Half-Century of Type Design and Typography by Frederic W. Goudy, Signature 4, 1947, p. 51 ‘DeRoos Roman and Emergo’ (new Dutch typefaces), Signature 9, 1949, pp. 47-9 ‘Carl Ernst Poeschel’, Signature 11, 1950, pp. 20-36
  • ‘Book Design Today’ (text of a talk, The Modern Book’, given at the St Bride Institute, London, Nov. 1950), Printing Review, Spring 1951, pp. 33-7
  • review of Hermann Zapf’s Feder und Stichel, Signature 13, 1951, pp. 61-2
  • ‘Reprints: Aldine and After’, Penrose Annual, 1953, pp. 35-8
  • ‘Modern typography in advertising’, Graphis 48, 1953, pp. 290-301
  • Stanley Morison. “Nonpareil” der Typographie und Schriftkunde (with S.H. Steinberg), Berlin: Monotype Corporation, 1956 (also published as a supplement in Der Druckspiegel , June 1956)
  • Citation for Jan van Krimpen (on the occasion of the 1956 Design Award), SIA Journal 55 (Apr/Jun), 1957, pp. 20-22 ‘A Gentleman of Verona’ (Giovanni Mardersteig), Penrose annual, v. 52, 1958, pp. 29-34
  • ‘Production and progress of Penguin Books’, Printing World (text of a speech to the Design and Industries Assoc. in April), 6 May 1959, pp. 553, 555
  • ‘Hermann Zapf, Type Designer’, Motif 3, Sept. 1959, pp. 49-50
  • 1960-79: ‘Gotthard de Beauclair. A German Book Designer’, Gotthard de Beauclair (exh. cat.), London, 1961
  • ‘Giovanni Mardersteig und die Officina Bodoni’, Imprimatur, 1961/62, pp. 29-35 plus 16-page inset ( includes OB bibliography)
  • Print, Jan./Feb. 1964, p. 81 (Typography – USA’ seminar)
  • ( translator :) The remarkable story of a book made in Padua in 1477 (by Giovanni Mardersteig), London: Nattali & Maurice, 1967
  • comments on the subject ‘Gutenbergs Werk und die Wissenschaftlich-technische Revolution’ (with other designers), Papier und Druck, 1968, 1
  • ‘John Fell, the University Press and the “Fell” Types’, Philobiblon, Feb. 1968, pp. 20-31
  • ‘The Complete Pelican Shakespeare’, Publishers’ Weekly, Oct. 1969, and Philobiblon, May 1970, pp. 91-102
  • Foreword to The Western Type Book (Western Printing Services), London: Hamish Hamilton, 1970, pp. vii-viii
  • Fables of Aesop (part of text rev. by HPS and Tanya Schmoller), Verona: Officina Bodoni, 1973
  • ‘The paperback revolution’, in Longman[.] Essays in the history of publishing…, Longman, 1974, pp. 285-318
  • ‘Jan Tschicholds Stühle’ in Philipp Luidl (ed.), Johannes Tzschichhold, Iwan Tschichold, Jan Tschichold, Munich: Typographische Gesellschaft, 1976
  • ‘Giovanni Mardersteig, 1892-1977’, Fine Print, April 1977, pp. 55-8
  • ‘Giovanni Mardersteig’ (obituary), Philobiblon, March 1978, pp. 3-5
  • The Paperback Age, Austin, Texas: Wind River Press, 1978
  • 1980-90: Editor and translator of Giovanni Mardersteig’s The Officina Bodoni, Verona: Edizioni Valdonega, 1980
  • ‘Der Schrift verschrieben[,] Berthold Wolpe und sein Werk’, Philobiblon, Feb. 1981, pp. 9-27
  • ‘Lane, Sir Allen (Lane Williams)’, Dictionary of National Biography, 1961-70, Oxford: OUP, 1981, pp. 629-31
  • ‘Eine sentimentalische Reise an den Mississippi’, Philobiblon, March 1982
  • ‘Panoply of Paper’, Matrix 3, 1983, pp. 5-20 ‘Die Taschenbuch-Revolution’, Buchhandelgeschichte 3, 1983
  • Mr Gladstone’s Washi, Newtown: Bird & Bull Press, 1984
  • ‘Money to Burn: Joss Paper – and a Centenary’, Matrix 4, Winter 1984, pp. 67-74 ‘An Italian Paperchase’ (with Tanya Schmoller), Matrix 5, Winter 1985, pp. 1-14
  • contribution to Tanya Schmoller’s, Chinese Decorated Papers, Newtown, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1987
  • ‘Type designer‘ (Hermann Zapf), contribution in ABC-XYZapf, London: Wynkyn de Worde Society, 1989, pp. 167-70
  • Two Titans: Mardersteig & Tschichold, New York: The Typophiles, 1990.

Writings about

  • The most comprehensive reference is Cinamon, Monotype Recorder, 1987 (see below). There are numerous references to HPS in Tim Graham (compiler), Penguins in Print. A Bibliography, Penguin Collectors’ Society, 2003.
  • François Stahly, ‘Sheet-music covers – yesterday and to-day’, Graphis 48, 1953, pp. 302-13, 330
  • P.G. Burbidge and L.A. Gray, ‘Penguin Panorama’, Printing Review, Autumn 1956, pp. 5-35
  • Liber Librorum project, Form und Technik, 1956, pp. 389-404
  • note on The Penguin Story, in Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., June 1957, pp. 63-4
  • Kurt Weidemann, ‘Schriftkunst – Schriftguss – Schriftsatz’, Der Druckspiegel, Jan. 1964, pp. 1-8 (part 2: Feb. 1964, pp. 81-90
  • part 3: March 1964, pp. 173-8)
  • ‘Who’s Who at Penguins’, British Books, June 1964, p. 43
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘Stuttgarter Bibeltypografie’ (Liber Librorum project), Der Druckspiegel, June 1964, pp. 361-78
  • ‘Filmsetting the Bard’ (Pelican Shakespeare), Monotype Newsletter 86, Dec. 1969
  • Walter Tracy, ‘Transatlantic Shakespeare’, Penrose Annual, 1970, pp. 153-8
  • John Dreyfus, review of Giovanni Mardersteig’s The Officina Bodoni (‘…to a large extent…written, edited or translated by …Schmoller’), Fine Print, v. vii, no. 4, October 1981
  • Hermann Zapf, ‘Hans Schmoller zum Gedächtnis’, Philobiblon (obituary), March 1986, pp. 46-8
  • Tanya Schmoller, ‘Paper-chasing with Hans’, Matrix 6, Winter 1986, pp. 65-71
  • Gideon Stern, ‘Hans Schmoller’ (obituary), Fine Print, April 1987, p. 107
  • Gerald Cinamon, ed., ‘Hans Schmoller, Typographer, His Life and Work’, The Monotype Recorder, no. 6, April 1987 (contents: biography
  • memoirs of HPS by his professional colleagues
  • John Trevitt: ‘The Buildings of England and The Pelican History of Art’
  • Jonathan Gili: ‘The Allen Lane Christmas Books’
  • HPS: ‘The Complete Pelican Shakespeare (originally in Publishers’ Weekly, Oct. 1969)
  • Tanya Schmoller: ‘Paperchasing’
  • Nicolas Barker, ‘Hans Schmoller: A valediction’).
  • Tanya Schmoller, ‘A new man called Schmoller’, The Penguin Collector, June 2003, pp. 7-11
  • Tim Graham (compiler), Penguin in Print. A Bibliography, Penguin Collectors’ Society, 2003
  • Erik Ellegaard Frederiksen, The Typography of Penguin Books, tr. K.B. Almlund, Penguin Collectors’ Society, 2004 (originally ‘Penguin-bøgerne og deres typografi’ in Bogvennen, Aarbog for bogkunst og boghistorie, Copenhagen: Nordisk Forlag, 1956, pp. 9-32)
  • RK, 2004
  • Jeremy Lewis, Penguin Special. The life and times of Allen Lane, London: Viking, 2005
  • Phil Baines, Penguin by Design, London: Allen Lane, 2005
  • J. Lewis, Penguin Special, London: Penguin, 2006 (p/b)
  • Steve Hare, ‘Reading the Classics’, Creative Review, Nov. 2006, pp. 54-8
  • David McKitterick, ‘The Schmoller Collection‘, Parenthesis 16, Feb. 2009, pp. 57-8.
  • International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933-45, Munich, New York, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1983., 1983
  • Kunst im Exil in Grossbritannien 1933-1945 (exh. cat.), Berlin: Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst and Verlag Frölich & Kaufmann, 1986. , 1986
  • Ernst Fischer and others, Buchgestaltung im Exil 1933-1950. Eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933-1945 Der Deutschen Bibliothek. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. Very comprehensive. , 2003, pp. 81, 90, and biog. p. 197


  • St Bride Library, London, 2005
  • Penguin exh., Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2005.


  • Royal Society of Arts, London
  • Penguin Books archives: Special Collections, University Library, University of Bristol, Bristol (UK)
  • Dept. of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading (UK)
  • decorated papers – Schmoller Collection of Decorated Papers, Manchester Metropolitan University Library (UK).