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Getting to Know the Blackletter Script


Also known as Textura, Gothic script, or Gothic minuscule, blackletter was a script that has been used throughout the Western Europe approximately from 1150 to the 17th century. This script was then continued being used up to the 20th century for the German language. There are a few child systems with this font, including the famous Franktur—and sometimes, the whole group of Blackletter faces is mistakenly referred to as this one. Blackletter is also often called Old English, but do not confuse it with the Old English language, even though many believe that it was written with this face.

Forms of Blackletter

There are several forms often found with the faces.

  1. Franktur
    It is a variety of blackletter that turned into the most general German blackletter typeface from the mid of 16th century. The common use of this variety was the reason why any blackletter form is often called Franktur, especially in Germany.Franktur is characterized by: (1) The o has its left side formed by angular stroke while its right side is by a round stroke. At both the bottom and the top, both strokes adjoin in an angle. Meanwhile, other small letters have similar forms; and (2) The capital letters are made of rounded S-shaped or C-shaped strokes.
  2. Textualis
    This form of blackletter typeface is also known as Gothic bookhand or texture, referring to the most calligraphic form of this typeface. This form is now most referred with “Gothic”. However, it is rarely used today.
  3. Schwabacher
    This was a form of blackletter used mostly for early German print typefaces. Until the 20th century, it remained to be occasionally used. This form is characterized by: (1) Both sides of the small letter O is rounded, yet at the top and bottom, the two strokes meet in an angle. The similar forms are also found in other small letters; (2) There’s a horizontal stroke at the top of small letter g, forming crosses with two downward strokes; and (3) A peculiar form is found in the capilar letter H, somewhat remind of the small letter h.
  4. Cursiva
    This one refers to the large form of blackletter forms. Just like with cursive writing in modern era, it has no actual standard form. Developed back in the 14th century by way of the simplified version of textualis, this form was developed partly as paper was introduced.Descenders are more often in cursive, particularly in letters s and f. Ascenders are looped and curved instead of vertical as in letter d. At the end of a word, a, g, and s are similar to the Carolingian form.
  5. Hybrida
    This form is also dubbed bastarda, particularly in French. Just like what its name suggests, this refers to the hybrid variety of blackletter script. It mixes cursiva and textualis, developed during the beginning of 15th century.This form of blackletter borrows the vertical ascenders from textualis and long f as well as long S, g featuring an open descender, which is similar to Carolingian forms from cursive, single-looped a.


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