Hannah's picture

Hey Everyone,

I'm not sure how active this forum is? As a New Zealander I am currently doing major project, here is my central question:

The black-letter Fraktur was Germany’s national choice of typeface style, however because it was terminated almost indefinitely by Hitler in WW2 I propose this question: can validity be restored to the typeface style, fraktur, which was defaced and became an index of inhumanity?

How does everyone see the reputation of blackletter today?
- negative/positive etc

What i'm really wondering is how can i start restoring validity? How can i design a typeface that is sensitive and honouring its history? One that moves people because of the context it is placed in. My original interest in blackletter was a link through from my empathy to the victims of WW2. Is their a way i can get that kind of empathy into the blackletter? Lots of questions - do i really want to get that empathy coming through (i.e.bringing back the past), like a memorial???

dan_reynolds's picture

Palatino's letters (especially the lowercase n) have that shear in them. Its a chirographic trait.

The old metal Palatino S always felt a bit blackletter to me… the middle curve wasn't smooth them, but bumped back up before it rounded down.

Yaronimus-Maximus's picture

those examples pwople have shown here, that's postmodernism in it's best. this thread surprises me more and more.

Hannah's picture

From the 16th Century through till the end of World War Two, the German blackletter was Germany's national typeface. In the original creation of blackletter, the letter forms were a romantic symbolism of light over darkness; the heavenly and eternal presence.

>Is it possible to restore the symbolic value of the blackletter?

cjg's picture

I think there's movement towards acceptance of blackletter again, even if it occurs through its resemblance to fraktur faces. If you've been following so-called 'urban' graphic and fashion design in the US and UK during the last year, it's en vogue to use intricate graphic silhouettes, often coupled with display type in fraktur and copy in a clean sans face. The visual cues between the illustrations and the type are frequently the angled 'cuts' and the high contrast you speak of.

Of course, the prevalent style is closer to that you identified as contemporary to WW1, but the groundwork is being laid.

hrant's picture

> Its a chirographic trait.

It's an artefact of chirography, but it could be many other things too,
and you don't need to be thinking chirographically in implementing it.
The same with many other things, like stroke contrast. Legato has it, but
certainly not because Evert was a fan of chirography - quite the opposite.


poms's picture

I think the "shears" can enhance the formcontrast of the single letterform, maybe that's why Jürgen Weltin did that here. And furthermore it can increase the "dynamic impression". Quite interesting example.

Hannah's picture

Hey everyone,
This is a initial draft of a new 21st century blackletter. Inspired by helvetica and fette fraktur. The letterforms are not refined, but what feel do you get from the overall aesthetic of the typeface?

hrant's picture

I think you should refine it a little bit more and put it in the crit section.


crossgrove's picture


I rediscovered Tim Ahrens' work, including this revival which may be of interest:

Read the text on this page; there's some interesting theory, in additional to the very interesting results.

toad42's picture


Tim has revised his website, so your link doesn't work anymore. He broke up the one page into multiple pages. This is probably the best replacement link, since it contains the discussion and links to the images and other resources:

I would love to see more detailed analysis of Lapture on Typophile. It is quite an interesting typeface, not only including an innovative letter structure but also pairing it with a flexible selection of cases, weights, and optical sizes.

MHSmith's picture

Here is a new & ambitious "modern blackletter" from France, Adso by Bruno Bernard:

and a portfolio (don't know why the url isn't active, just paste it in):

To be marketed in a few days.

neverblink's picture

Somehow that last design reminded me of a mono-line blackletter(ish) typeface I have seen on pottery. Next time I visit my grandmother I'll be sure to make a photo of it.

Anyway, there is also Neue Konstrukteur, a modern grid-based design with hints of a blackletter

dezcom's picture

I would not say those examples look like blackletter. More like a geometric sans limited to straight lines. I have even done one of those myself a few yeas ago.

flooce's picture

Not sure if this was already discussed here, but Jason Mannix created a modern form of a Blackletter, with italics and small caps. An interesting endeavor. The typeface is called Enzian.

flooce's picture

The genre of the “Schaftstiefelgrotesk” has a new member, and I am curious how it will be received. As far as I know this genre combines black-letter with the design principles of sans serifs and were invented and used during the time of Nazi Germany. (At some point abandoned and forbidden though.) Therefore till today there is a strong ideological connotation. I wonder now if this typeface will evoke the same connotations or if the soft curves will leave a totally different impression:

Germania One:

hrant's picture

I'm not German, but it looks OK to me (although it would've been
better to avoid "Jack" - in reference to "jackboot grotesque").


quadibloc's picture

To me the most effective way of re-validating blackletter would
be to make a text font, one that's subtle enough to go unnoticed
by laymen readers.

While I am dubious about the prospects of blackletter, I highly agree with this. I suspect that such a type couldn't really be a blackletter, but I do think that at least non-Roman text/calligraphic type of some sort - such as rotunda - can and should be validated in this way.

Ultimately, there should be more basic models for readable types to work from as a starting point than simply Roman and sans-serif. (Clarendon, slab-serif, and Latin (wedge-serif), in my view, hardly count as departures from those two basic types, just as sub-types.)

Té Rowan's picture

Like the jackboot grots (and I can see why they remind some folk of polished-stiff cavalry jackboots), Germania One looks to me to have most in common with textur. If there is such a phenom as an antiqua textur, this could be it.

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