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Blackletter - The Gutenberg's 42-Line Bible Typeface

Modern terminology explains typography as the art of arranging type, type design and glyphs appearance. It has always been coherent with the general progress of art and cultural growth of humanity. The Blackletter typeface became famous across Europe due to its usage in the Gutenberg's 42-Line Bible, which was one of the first books printed in Europe.



Guttenberg Bible Image Source: Wikipedia

The shape of the Blackletter typeface is easily recognizable as Gothic script, but Carolingian minuscule was actually the direct ancestor of the Blackletter. People often referred to Blackletter as Gothic, Fraktur or Old English.

Since Blackletter typeface is not easy to read in body text they are mostly used in headings, logos, and signs. So, it became less popular for printing in many countries except for Germany. Some people used to mistakenly associate Blackletters as Nazi fonts due to its similarity with Fraktur. In a way the association with Nazi has helped Blackletter become a bold choice of font.

Fraktur Typeface Image Source: Wikipedia

Surprisingly, Blackletter typeface has been used in some familiar places without us realizing. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times have used this typeface on their newspaper nameplates. Also, chances are you have received a certificate or a diploma with a text that was set in Blackletter.

Blackletter Typeface Image Source: Wikipedia

Juice Couture Image Source: Juice Couture

I found a video with a great summary of the history behind the Blackletter typeface. History has a great deal in the development of this typeface.

Blackletter has gone through being used all over Europe, to being used as the German national type, and later being banned and associated with Nazi Germany, and then to being a font to create a brand with an attitude.

Cleia Muggler

California based graphic designer discovering new ways to balance functionality and aesthetics.

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