Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fraktur for the Faithful

Pennsylvania Fraktur was an illuminated folk art created by the Pennsylvania Dutch (also known Pennsylvanian German). Most work of this type was created between 1740 and 1860 by teachers or pastors seeking to supplement their meager salaries. The manuscripts, scribed in ink, were sometimes colored with watercolor. The illuminated book below is an example of Vorschriften (writing), single page birth and baptismal certificates, marriage and house blessings, book plates, and floral and figurative scenes were referred to as Taufscheine.
Pictured below in color is the work of Johannes Ernst Spangenberg (1755-1814) a Northampton County Pennsylvania schoolmaster. He was much in demand for his Fraktur and was known as the “Easton Bible Artist.”
Fraktur also refers to a Latin Blacklettering text style created in the early 16th century by Hieronymus Andreae for the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I for a new series of books. Blow in black and white is an example of a Bible done in this manner.

Original preserved examples of Fraktur Americana folk art can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as in private collections.