Resources for Blackletter Type

Blackletter Resource Page

Visitors to TypeOff.de often ask for further information regarding blackletter type, its history and development, as well as its current use. Below are a list of links that I have assembled to try and help designers navigate through the topic. Please note that while this page does not descibe the history or classification of blackletter typefaces, it does link to several resources that do.

Type and National Identity Books 1Type and National Identity Books 2

The “Blackletter: Type and National Identity” Exhibition
Several books were published alongside this exhibition, held at Cooper Union in New York in 1998, including the color piece Blackletter: Type and National Identity, by Paul Shaw and Peter Bain. American residents can purchase the book from them over Amazon; International customers may order the book from Peter Bain directly, and pay via PayPal. There is also a catalog by the same name, which seems to be out of print: Blackletter: Type & National Identity; Catalogue of the Exhibition, also by Paul Shaw and Peter Bain.

The Calligraphers Guild published a double-issue for the exhibition entitled “The Calligraphic Tradition in Blackletter Type,” SCRIPSIT Summer 1999: Volume 22, Numbers 1 and 2, by Paul Shaw. Copies of this is available here and here.

More Print Items
Christina Paoli’s Mexican Blackletter was initially designed as a graduate student project. Several years ago, this was discussed on Typophile, in the thread Blackletter in Mexico.

From Typophile.com
Image uploaded by Christina Paoli to Typophile.com.

Fraktur: Form und Geschichte der gebrochenen Schriften was written by Albert Kapr and published by the Verlag Hermann Schmidt, Mainz in 1993. In my opinion, this is still the best resource in any language for learning about the history and breadth of blackletter typefaces. The book is about the same size as Robert Bringhurst’s Elements of Typographic Style, so I have them next to each other on my bookshelf. Sometimes, I even refer to it as the “Elements of Blackletter Style.” The book’s text is German, with black and white illustrations.

Spread from FrakturClose-Up from Fraktur
Spread from Albert Kapr’s 1993 epic history of blackletter, with close-up to the right.

Also from the Verlag Hermann Schmidt is Fraktur mon Amour, a prayerbook-style catalog of blackletter types old and new. Personally, I would find this book a much better resource if it discussed the quality levels of some of the fonts displayed. Free fonts—some of rather poor technical quality—are displayed side by side with professionally-produced fonts. Readers are not able to get a good sense for which fonts will actually work in their design processes and environments.

Spread from the magazine article.Close-Up from the magazine article.
Linotype Matrix Vol. 4 Issue 2: “Inside the library at the Gutenberg Museum,” by Dan Reynolds (see a few more images here).

Some alternate views on the development of blackletter in general, and of fraktur in particular, may be found in the books of Gerrit Noordzij: The Stroke: Theory of Writing and LetterLetter.

Two BooksClose-Up
On the left, spreads from The Stroke and LetterLetter. On the right, a close-up of an image from The Stroke.

 
Just a few of the digital blackletter typefaces that are just too deliciously good:

TypeOff. Links

External Links

That’s it for now! If you have a link suggestion for this site, send it to us at info that symbol typeoff dot de.


About

Dan Reynolds is a typeface designer and typographic researcher in Berlin. TypeOff.™ – this blog – launched in 2004; it was founded by a collective of typography students in Offenbach, Germany. The members of this team have each moved on to better things, but the »Offenbach Typostammtisch« inaugurated by the group still meets monthly. Its dates and locations are listed on spatium’s website.

Most text here is currently set with a custom webfont forked from the font family that would eventualy become the Malabar typeface. Information about this webfont may be found here.