上世纪 50 年代后期，正逢中国大陆汉语拼音化运动。中国政府于民主德国总理奥托·格罗提渥（Otto Grotewohl）访华之际，提出请求，希望为中国培养一位能设计拉丁字母字体的专业人才。
1956 年，余秉楠毕业于鲁迅美术学院。之后即被派往民主德国的莱比锡平面设计与书籍艺术大学（Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig）学习字体设计。莱比锡平面设计与书籍艺术大学是一所有着悠久历史的欧洲名校，有着世界顶级水平的字体设计专业。在这里，余秉楠师从阿尔伯特·卡帕尔教授（Prof. Albert Kapr），开始学习专业的西文字体设计。
The 50s saw the unprecedentedly intense debate over language reform in China. Linguists and policy makers tossed around radical ideas. Some suggested standardizing and simplifying Chinese characters. Others argued for a complete phoneticization of the writing system based on the Latin alphabet. Soon the HanYu Pinyin system came about as the approved romanization supplement to Standard Chinese, and would in the following years demand millions of Chinese people to acquire basic literacy in ABCs.
In 1955, the German Democratic Republic’s first prime minister, Otto Grotewohl, paid a state visit to China. On this celebrated occasion, his Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai, on behalf of the P.R.C government, expressed its interest in having a Chinese type designer – someone who could create the so-called “Latin-letter fonts” professionally, for China and the Chinese language. Thanks to this bold and unexpected initiative, Freundschafts-Antiqua’s story began.
In 1956, a young graduate from the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, Yu Bingnan, earned himself this valuable chance after passing several examinations organized by the Ministry of Education in China. He was soon sent to the GDR, or more commonly known as East Germany, to complete his special typeface mission. Within months Yu arrived at the prestigious Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig (Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig, thereafter HGB), one of the best and oldest art institutes in the world. Enjoying a long and outstanding history, the HGB was the ideal place for systematic training of graphic arts and type design. Yu Bingnan started his study under the guidance of Prof. Albert Kapr and specialized in western typography, namely, that of the Latin alphabet.
From early 1959, Yu Bingnan started conceiving a Latin typeface project. He improvised a unique writing instrument himself – a bamboo pen that was chopped off from a traditional ink brush commonly used in Chinese calligraphy. With this rather innovative device in hand, his typeface featured novel and inspiriting styles. Most remarkable were its elastic strokes and serifs.
In a few months, Yu Bingnan finished his debut typeface. This is the first metal typeface of Latin letters ever created by a Chinese. Yu named it “Freundschafts-Antiqua”, a symbol of solidarity and friendship between China and Germany.
As the first Latin typeface ever created by a Chinese designer, Freundschafts-Antiqua has won the Gutenberg Prize (the first Asian winner), “Best Contemporary Typeface” award, the German Minister of Culture Award, Tokyo Type Director’s Club Award and many other awards.
友谊体是一款「旧风格的衬线体」，比起我们常见的衬线体，譬如 Times New Roman，友谊体拥有较多的来自西文书法的风格特点，因而友谊体呈现出浓郁的人文主义气息。
Technically speaking, Freundschafts-Antiqua is an old-style serif typeface. Compared with the common serifs such as Times New Roman, Freundschafts-Antiqua has more calligraphic characteristics, and thus gives a strong humanist feeling.
Though embedded with a “Chinese sense”, Freundschafts-Antiqua is by no means a heedless replica of certain Chinese elements. Yu Bingnan neither altered his writing instrument (he didn’t use a Chinese ink brush), nor applied the aesthetics of Chinese characters bluntly. Rather, he put his passions and sentiments as a Chinese designer into the Freundschafts-Antiqua.
Yu attentively tested to make the typeface readable and legible. As a result, the texts and passages set with Freundschafts-Antiqua looked like a comfortable “gray patch”, which gave the readers an excellent reading experience, especially for literary works such as poetry and fiction.
Undoubtedly, Yu Bingnan’s Freundschafts-Antiqua is a Latin typeface of remarkable artistic value. Due to technical constraints of traditional typesetting, however, its applications come rather limited in the digital world today.
3type is determined to rekindle the slightly dated Freundschafts-Antiqua. With its original curving expressly optimized for screen display, the Freundschafts-Antiqua Neue family has morphed into six weights that can suit various challenging textual environments. In addition to the Latin-script only Freundschafts-Antiqua, we are also developing its Cyrillic, Arabic and Chinese siblings, making the family more cosmopolitan.
2017 年 10 月下旬，3type（三言）的设计团队专程赴京拜访余秉楠。此时的余秉楠以从大半个世纪前的风华少年变成古稀之年的老人。可当听到「新友谊体」这个想法的时候，立刻神采奕奕，滔滔不绝。余秉楠仔细看完新的字稿，对「新友谊体」的设计给予了很大的肯定。他说，原以为这个历经磨难的友谊体，原以为已经淹没在历史中了，没想到今天有后辈来继续创作，让他获得了新生。
In October 2017, 3type’s design team made a trip to Beijing to visit Yu Bingnan. Yu was more than 80 years old, but when hearing about our new project Freundschafts-Antiqua Neue, he looked immediately enlightened and couldn’t stop talking. After carefully reviewing every lettershape in our draft, Yu spoke fondly of Freundschafts-Antiqua Neue’s sampling. He said, “I thought my suffering Freundschafts-Antiqua had long been buried in history. I did not expect that the younger generation today is continuing with its legacy. In a way the original typeface is reborn.”
传统的友谊体只有 Regular 一个字重，只局限于正文排版。而新友谊体目前共有六个字重，以满足排印中不同的需求。除了传统的 Regular 字重，还有最粗的 Black 字重，可以用作强调性的标题文字，而最细的 Light 也别有一种精致的美，适合文艺、文学类文字内容。
Yu Bingnan’s Freundschafts-Antiqua, restrained by the typesetting environment at the time, had only one regular weight. Freundschafts-Antiqua Neue, however, is updated to six weights, in order to perform adequately in various challenging text settings. In addition to the traditional regular weight, Freundschafts-Antiqua Neue also features a black weight and a light weight. The former can be used to stress important headlines and titles; the later suitable for literary contents, for it carries a certain textual delicacy.
3type has also fashioned a sans-serif member of the Freundschafts-Antiqua Neue family. The sans serif design comes with a lively and modern touch. It brings a light and relaxing reading experience to serious and long texts.
Yu Bingnan named the typeface he came up with “Freundschafts-Antiqua,” to remember and to promote a symbol of friendship between China and Germany. Freundschafts-Antiqua Neue aims to bring this friendship to a higher ground. Its Latin character set not only covers all European languages, but also supports Turkic languages, Vietnamese, and Hanyu Pinyin.