Blackletter was born from regional handwriting types in Europe around the 15th century. Originally it was a script type mimicked by those copying books, manuscripts or other parchments. In northern Europe (Germanic regions) this script type became known as Gothic (script, miniscule) or Blackletter. Textura was the first known variant; others that followed were Schwabacher, Fraktur and Cursiva. It was from Textura that Johannes Gutenberg, also known as the father of the printing press, modeled his first movable type press letterforms.

Blackletter was the letterform of the Renaissance period. Additional variants arose like “white letter”, a more Roman style of Blackletter, but still retaining a heavily Gothic form. Blackletter is commonly associated with Germany, specifically Fraktur, which appeared on many of Germany’s flags. It was the font the was adopted early by the National Socialist party for use of their propaganda materials. Leni Riefenstahl’s pro-Nazi film, Triumph of Will, promotional materials and titles were created using Blackletter (Fraktur and Schwabacher). It was during WWII that Blackletter became recognized more as Nazi type than German type.

Current Uses

Post WWII, after the defeat of the Nazi’s, use of Blackletter in Germany quickly ended because of its association. Modern uses tend to be associated with bands like AC/DC, metal bands or motorcycle gangs.

Visual Study


"Blackletter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2012. .

Dodd, Robin. From Gutenberg to opentype: an illustrated history of type from the earliest letterforms to the latest digital fonts. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, 2006. Print.

"Typography | Retinart." Retinart - Reflections on the Joyous Elegance of Graphic Design and Creative Thought. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2012. .

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