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General comments[edit]

I am coming to this, and related pages, in order to decipher some text. I have found this article to be almost unusable. For example, words like "England" and "Germany" are linked, presumably, to England and Germany yet words that one would not reasonably expect a reader of this article to know (bow, minum, etc.) are not defined or explained.

Therefore, this:

-when a letter with a bow (in b, d, p, q, etc) is followed by another letter with a bow (such as "be" or "po"), the bows overlap and the letters are joined by a straight line (this is known as "biting"). - German Blackletter typefacesa related characteristic is the half r, the shape of r when attached to other letters with bows; only the bow and tail were written, connected to the bow of the previous letter. In other scripts, this only occurred in a ligature with the letter o. -similarly related is the form of the letter d when followed by a letter with a bow; its ascender is then curved to the left, like the uncial d. Otherwise the ascender is vertical. -the letters g, j, p, q, y, and the hook of h have descenders, but no other letters are written below the line.

is virtually incomprehensible.

Visual examples of what is primarily a discussion of a visual subject are necessary. An "A to Z" illustration of the alphabets discussed would help a lot too.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Incitatus (talkcontribs) 13:23, 4 December 2006 (UTC).

Typeface merge[edit]

I've flagged both the Typeface and the Blackletter articles with merger tags because I think the Blackletter section of the Typeface article should be integrated into this one, the main Blackletter article. As you can see, the Typeface article only has short descriptions of each font family, linking to a main article if the topic warrants it (like Serif, Sans-serif, and Slab serif). I think the Blackletter section should do the same. However, I don't know very much on the topic and I can't decide how exactly it should be done. Vontafeijos 05:38, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

I think that one should fairly careful here. Although the Blackletter font is based on the Blackletter script, they are produced in fundamentally different ways, and have different histories. I would prefer to see the Blackletter section broken into a new article, rather integrated with an article about a type of handwriting. Dsmdgold 04:18, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
You are, of course, correct in saying that Blackletter fonts and actual Blackletter handwriting are different. However, since the fonts are modeled on Blackletter handwriting, I think it would be better to put the font info in this article (probably at the end) so that comparisons can easily be drawn between the handwriting and the fonts. But again, I don't know enough about the subject to do it myself, otherwise I would. Vontafeijos 04:36, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

I think that the article gothic script should be merged into this one. It's different names for the same script. The disambiguation page gothic suggest that there were a distinction between the handwriting script called gothic script and a typing script called blackletter, but it seems to me that this distinction is artificial (inexistent outside wikipedia). I believe that the lable blackletter is preferrable because it's less ambiguous: There's no danger of confusion with the gothic alphabet. Additionally, when the term gothic was chosen in the renaissance, it was intended as a despective name for an "outdated" and "ugly" script (in the eyes of a renaissancer). J. 'mach' wust 23:27, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This article is now merged with Gothic script. See Gothic script for its verion history. J. 'mach' wust 11:31, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Blackletter evolved from Gothic indirectly speaking but is technically a by-product of Bastarda, which is to say that Quadrata and Textura are not technically blackletter. The problem is that you can't really understand what Bastrada is without knowing what the two gothic forms mentioned are, and likewise you can't understand what Blackletter is without bastrada. Thus while Typeface may imitate Blackletter, such imitations may be had without knowing the theory and without that theory they are a distracting influence on the topic of writing. Still my only reservation in that case is that just as much space be given to engravers and wood cutters who well through the 18th century were more refined and required a much higher skill and talent.

Reflectively typeset Gothic and Bastrada don't have any true compatibility or following, so that if Blackletter is confined to evolve back only to Bastrada typeface issues can possibly be address in this context. This would suggest trying to link Bastarda and Gothic! --MicPowell 03:34, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Visigothic minuscule[edit]

We have Visigothic script for that. Adam Bishop 01:14, 4 January 2006 (UTC)


That article links here ("Broadsheet ballads (also known as broadside ballads or blackletter ballads)") but it is not obvious what the connection is? Broadsheet ballads were printed in a period generally later than that discussed in the English section of this article. Rmhermen 21:39, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Why is it called "blackletter"?[edit]

I think the article could be improved by answering the subject question in the opening para. I just skimmed the article and it's not answered anywhere I could find. I don't know the answer myself or I would consider fixing it. Contrast with Merovingian script which explains why it's called Merovingian right away. ++Lar: t/c 01:41, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

It's called that because it was moved to this title from "Gothic script" around this time last year (see J mach wust's comments above, which I disagreed with somewhere at the time, but oh well). Adam Bishop 03:07, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

In a later note on this same talk page, I have pointed out that the term Blackletter is a designation based on the consequences of balancing Quadrata and Textura elements to form the Bastarde. That is by the pen-lift method the terminals of these types of letters and the inclusion of hackles creats wells of ink around terminals and joins so that a light coloured ink will show disparate tones and tints, which are hidden by the use of thick black ink.-- 00:58, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Gothic cursive[edit]

I'm looking for a gothic cursive typeface, one that would have been taught mid-20th century to schoolchildren, in Germany/Eastern Europe. My uncle tried to write it down for me, but couldn't remember many of the letters. It had three distinctions: 1) written with pencil on paper, so no nib, no ink. 2) its cursive, so the letters get joined together. 3) vaguely hints of American schoolhouse cursive, except that any loop in the American cursive typically turns into a sharp point. 4) some letters get pulled apart into pieces: e.g. lowercase a looks like a lowercase o followed by a short horizontal stroke followed by the downstroke (so that it looks like o followed by an undotted i) Similarly the lowercase g looks like a round o followed by a downstroke. I really want to see what the full alphabet looks like, upper and lower case. linas 18:07, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Are you thinking of Sütterlin? Adam Bishop 03:07, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I would check Dover Press especially sense the pages are Duty Free and so have no copyright issues. The specific script I believe you are looking for is called Der Kurrant, but the best Dover example is in a book on Ornamental Scripts and shows only two pages in copperplate. Other Dover Press books have the work of van der Veilde often in the relative context of Belgein Script and it should be noted that his work was engraved. Last you should also look at the English relatives which may be listed as Elizabethian Basterd Secretary,Secretary,or Law Hand, the latter two can even be seen in Bickham's, Universal Penman. -- 01:13, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Till what time was the Blackletter mainly used in England?[edit]

When was the change to Antiqua? Der Barbar 19:31, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

That depends on what you call Blackletter and mean by mainly. That is, the English styles that contributed to what we call Blackletter did not stop in their evolutionary tracks and in fact fathered the Elizabethian Bastard Secretary which at least in it's edge-penned form is a blackletter and may be argued so in it's copperplate modernizations, albeit questionably.

None the less Old English was elevated in it's formal status long after this period and so became important in compositions for titles, headings, salutations and other distinctions on a given composed page. This led to the so-called German Text which is an English styled Fractura, given heavy flourishes and meant to impress the Georges who were German born or raised. Note also the naive Square Text of the Constitution and Naive German Text of the Declaration of Independence not to mention degrees and certificates of today.

Technically the Basterd Secretary came into it's own in the late 1400s and the more Gothic like forms were used less and less as a text circa that period, the smaller hand being a most frugal use of space, time and paper.--MicPowell 02:20, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Correct spelling includes space (black letter, not blackletter)[edit]

A minor nit; I'm finding reputable dictionary definitions of this term spelled as "black letter," rather than "blackletter." (Check a physical Mirriam-Webster dictionary, also for differing definitions of both "blackletter" and "black letter.") Respectfully suggest doing a search/replace of this article.

I empathize with your spelling issue but given Webster's Bastard English or American, I should hardly consider it the proper source for terms of foreign or at least pre-americana discription. At any rate Blackletter seems to me to be an unambiguous clarification. That is to say a black letter seems to me to be about a written page while blackletter is about a technique specific to writing not unlike woodcut, overbearing and so on!--MicPowell 01:45, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Awkward terminology[edit]

Is there a reason why Textualis, Hybrida, & Cursiva are preferred to Textura, Bastarda and Corsiva?

Textilius is a reference to textiles and the naive idea that modern Calligraphers and some Art Historians have used to surplant Textura based on the non-working belief that these gothic forms were more uniform in vertical structure. I would argue that vertical and uniform minimums don't quite impress me as woven or tile like. Textura is actually the idea that the terminals are "web" shaped. I have no knowledge of any serious work using the term Corsiva and dismiss it on that grounds, ie be consistant. Bastarde, Bastarda, and Bastard are the standard terms and technically do mean Hybrid but this Website is the first place I have heard of that tried to make some politically correct pretense of the issue. The ancient stigma was that a Bastard had gained insight, thus an ill gotten gain by being the product of broken traditions, save as war brides. At any rate research needs be consistant and knowing the term bastarde may prove a better sign post, whether we like it or not. --MicPowell 02:44, 13 October 2007 (UTC)


[Blackletter] continued to be used for the German language until the 20th century.

IIRC, I've learnt somewhere that it was also used (more than the current script) for the Danish language until the early 20th century. If this is true, I think it should be mentioned in the above sentence. Can anybody confirm or disprove this? Wikipeditor 15:19, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Some Danish books still used it up to the beginning of the 20th century, but the main shift to antiqua occurred around 1850s, that was the period when the amount of books printed in antiqua superseded the Gothic letter books in number. --Saddhiyama (talk) 09:26, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Old English script - is it distinct, does it exist?[edit]

The top of this article says:

Blackletter is not to be confused with Old English, despite the popular, and untrue, tradition that Blackletter was used to write that language. Old English pre-dates Blackletter by many centuries.

However, the Old English (disambiguation) page says:

Script/Typeface: Blackletter, a script/typeface which is often confused with, and misnamed as, Old English.

Which is correct? Or is there just no page on the wiki for Old English (script)?

Barry Kelly 15:49, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, the language Old English predates Gothic script, but the typeface Old English is constructed to look Gothic-y. There is no "Old English script" really, it's a modern typeface, not a medieval style of handwriting. Adam Bishop 21:39, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Pertting backwards during the time of the Universal Penman sent out to subscribers circa the 1740s and engraved by George Bickham, the designation was "Old English Print" and it should also be noted that engraving was more common than typeset for a varity of reasons. Old English proper is a name assigned post period and generally referred to the English style of writing the maximums and the unique 'a' minimum. Note such supra designations for the 'A' is considered in reverence to that letter being the first western ideograph, hence the African Uncial even shows this letter as being distinct.

Blackletter is simply a post Batarde catchall and the consequence of the batarde elements which with thinner or in light coloured inks would otherwise show ink wells at the treminals and joins. Thus the Fractura maximim is technically not a Blackletter because the fractured nature of the designs obviously do not join.

The Caroline was sighted in in many an Imperialist Era history books in much the same way George Washington Carver was the pre Civil Rights designate for Blacks in American History. That is, as a script it is of no real importance save the reference to Karl. What Alcum of York as a sudo-commissioner did was offer an Uncial form that was less antagonistic to post Roma. It does contain some serif like elements but aside from that it's heraldic notion of using Roman Rustica as titles and captions is more scholarly in the context of page composition.

The realization that the Uncial was in fact an African form is an argument that is too lengthy to evolve here, even if I have presented some supportives elsewhere, and I will avoid it at this time by merely noting the reluctance of the Anglos, Belgians and Germans to adapt popular romanesque forms in script for formal documents until nearly 1700.

The last serious critique here is on the Textura and its true meaning which has been compromised by naive Calligraphers and Art Historians who have equated the term Textilius in its place. Textilius would refer to a woven script but this is not a significant consideration in the context of the evolution of the Gothic Hands. Further the notion that some may perceive the text to be more vertical is insufficient reason to suggest textiles or weaving by any stretch of the imagination. Textura can be mistaken for a similar meaning but in the context of Gothic Hands it is a specific and clear reference to the "Web" shape terminals and joins.

Going back the importance of the Uncial is it's natural pen strokes forming the elements of a letter. Prior to the Gothic Period regional influences led to regional forms usually effecting joins, ligatures and terminals which in some cases even reflected language and speech patterns something like accent marks. The idea behind the Gothic movement is to return to controlled pen forms and thus the most critical issue is the terminals. Hence the question is how to begin and end the letter form in an unambiguous way.

For the Textura the answer was to mark the pen angle and quickly swell so as to create a blot of ink that could be pushed down the page forming the stem or main ache of the form while reverting back to natural pen pressure, then to terminate the stroke pressure was again increased and the mark finishes as a way of quickly lifting off the page and thus creating a smooth edged finish. The result is related to the hackle formed crescent shape blended into the letters elements.

In contrast is the Quadrata, where the marker is pulled evenly without any change in pressure, literally making a square or rectangle as a complete stroke in itself, save that the hand motion is an off-angle Z or N like motion. The stem thus becomes another stroke altogether and the terminal is adding a finishing rectangle or square.

The Quadrata came after the Textura and technically sense the three elements to a stroke can be lined and measured it should be a more uniform design geometrically but this doesn't quite work out beyond the theoretical novelty. Ergo the very inclusion of three distinct strokes requires alinement and the human effort to aline the elements despite the stylist view is compromising.

In either case the more important issue which these writing patterns brought to light is what I call the Dominii, Dominus factor. In other words because only the basic terminals had evolved, the letters i,m,n,u could be confused,and note i wasn't yet dotted. First experiments considered ideas with the feet cut off, vine cine pedibus, but the isssue was resolved with the Batarde which began to mix, interchange and double both quadrata and textura elements to evolve a clear blackletter although the Anglos had mad some redesigns already in progress.

Getting back to the Old English question the problem is that by the Gothic period several Hands had evolved in England and to fix one as Old English is at the evpense of others.

 -- 00:33, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

About the "Textualis lettering" image[edit]

This image does not include lowercase "e", but does include "$" (which clearly did not exist at that time) and a non-typographic quote mark (and it is not explained how quotations are typically handled in medieval books that use blackletter). Please recreate the image. -- Alexander Patrakov 12:41, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Antiqua, Blackletter, Gaelic and the Typography terms Template[edit]

There is some discussion going on at that the Talk page for that template regarding the classification of typefaces and the place of Gaelic in the paradigm. -- Evertype· 17:50, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Nazis and Fraktur[edit]

Article says that the Nazis abandoned Fraktur but they actually banned it because they saw it as "Jewish". Quite ironic since people associate it with the Nazis today. See SpeakFree (talk) 17:34, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

long ess[edit]

We say that U+017F is the Fraktur long ess, but it's just the Roman long ess: ſ. Has a separate Fraktur letter not been encoded? — kwami (talk) 21:17, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

  • It is both. Fraktur as a stylistic variant of the Latin alphabet uses the same Unicode code points. The distinct Fraktur code points are for mathematical purposes only. Justastupidman (talk) 16:42, 7 January 2013 (UTC)


This just looks like mmmnunmunmu

At least the illegibility problem is mentioned. The displayed sample is a great example of that illegibility.

"Textualis ... characteristics ... are: minims, especially in the later period of the script, do not connect with each other. This makes it very difficult to distinguish i, u, m, and n. A 14th-century example of the difficulty minims produced is, mimi numinum niuium minimi munium nimium uini muniminum imminui uiui minimum uolunt ("the smallest mimes of the gods of snow do not wish at all in their life that the great duty of the defences of the wine be diminished"). In black letter this would look like a series of single strokes. Dotted i and the letter j developed because of this[citation needed]. Minims may also have finials of their own." (this article)

"Minims often have a connecting stroke which makes it clear that they form an m, n, etc.; however, in Gothic scripts, also known as textualis especially in late examples, minims do not connect to each other at all and it is nearly impossible to tell what letter is meant. A 14th century example of this is: mimi numinum niuium minimi munium nimium uini muniminum imminui uiui minimum uolunt ("the smallest mimes of the gods of snow do not wish at all in their life that the great duty of the defences of the wine be diminished"). In Gothic script this would look like a series of single strokes (this problem eventually led to a dotted i and a separate letter j[citation needed])." (minim article) --A876 (talk) 18:40, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

I guess if you know what you're looking at, it's not all that illegible (in fact this picture looks perfectly clear to me). I suppose we should also mention that "mimi numinum niuium minimi munium nimium uini muniminum imminui uiui minimum uolunt" is a joke, an intentional construction that would look like a bunch of lines, since 14th century copyists were aware of this problem and did not lack a sense of humour. Adam Bishop (talk) 03:38, 28 February 2013 (UTC)