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Gothic tales
August 9, 2005 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Gothic fonts, aka Blackletter, aka Fraktur are often associated with Nazi propaganda these days. And indeed, at the beginning the Nazis encouraged their use...that is, until, in one of the most bizarre decrees of the Third Reich, Hitler declared them "non-German" and even "Jewish" and banned them with immediate effect. Funny thing is, Fraktur would take its vengeance on Hitler fans forty years later... (And before any typographic pedant points it out, yes, I know Fraktur is a subdivision of the Gothic/Blackletter family of fonts)
posted by Skeptic (32 comments total)

 
Actually, the most common place I see blackletter fonts is at the Renaissance Faire. This despite the fact that the classic, and enormously readable, Garamond, among other terrific serif fonts, were created in the Renaissance.
posted by maxsparber at 2:42 PM on August 9, 2005


ye olde fascism
posted by keswick at 2:47 PM on August 9, 2005


keswick : "ye olde fascism"

You mean "Þe olde fascism"?
posted by Bugbread at 2:51 PM on August 9, 2005


Blackletter type manifestly is not "associated with Nazi propaganda these days." The typical association is street-cred cool.

Do you think the Nazis would have approved of all those hip-hop ads (complete with black guys) that use blackletter?
posted by joeclark at 3:03 PM on August 9, 2005


The Fuhrer would bust it up 'old school, yo!
posted by tkchrist at 3:13 PM on August 9, 2005


joeclark : "Blackletter type manifestly is not 'associated with Nazi propaganda these days.' The typical association is street-cred cool."

I think it's associated with both, depending on the age of the person making the association, and which of the flavors of Blackletter we're discussing. Just looking at that second link, I see fonts I associate with Nazis, fonts I associate with gangster rap or death metal groups, and fonts I associate with childrens' stories.
posted by Bugbread at 3:14 PM on August 9, 2005


Wow, that's ironic; I used to have Arbeit macht Frei in Fette Fraktur taped on my monitor at work -- good motivation to buckle down and get those specs written.
posted by alumshubby at 3:17 PM on August 9, 2005


joeclark: Speaking for Nazis everywhere (eyeroll), we approve of them if only because in your example they don't do the ALL CAPS design faux pas (that's french!). Which looks like teh suck in Black Letter.
posted by hal9k at 3:22 PM on August 9, 2005


Dio just don't cut it in Arial.
posted by hal9k at 3:23 PM on August 9, 2005


Oh man that's rad - I love the anti-Fraktur memo with the Fraktur header. Those wacky Nazis!
posted by freebird at 3:27 PM on August 9, 2005


As to the relationship between hip hop and blakletter fonts — well, I always suspected most rappers were D&D nerds.
posted by maxsparber at 3:46 PM on August 9, 2005


Um, I thought "gothic" basically meant sans-serif in proper typography?
posted by Artw at 3:48 PM on August 9, 2005


Surley that's 'typography pedant'?
posted by i_cola at 3:50 PM on August 9, 2005


I once saw a guy wearing a frat t-shirt where all the text was in a highly decorated blackletter face (something like this one) including the greek letters in the name of the frat. It hurt me deep down inside.
posted by samw at 4:13 PM on August 9, 2005


"typographic pedantry" I think, if you really want to go there.
posted by freebird at 4:51 PM on August 9, 2005


Those are some nice fonts to add to the collection. Thanks!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:57 PM on August 9, 2005


On the Moorstation site there is a page I've been using where a designer's whole collection has been made available for download. Some very lovely fonts, blackletter and otherwise, and dingbats.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:07 PM on August 9, 2005


Shout out for Carolingian Miniscule, the ancestor of blackletter, and a successor to Half Uncial. An eminently readable script, invented out of necessity during the transition of the Western territories of the Roman Empire into germanic successor states. I find Carolingian Miniscule to be more readable than the increasingly fetishized and peculiar scripts that developed in the later Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.
posted by meehawl at 5:52 PM on August 9, 2005


Today's designers might exercise a little more historical awareness. Compare the X-Games logo to the NSDAP swastika. Graphic elements of circle, X, red, black, and white are innocuous alone, but together they may create unintended visual associations.
posted by cenoxo at 7:02 PM on August 9, 2005


bugbread: "keswick : "ye olde fascism"

You mean "Þe olde fascism"?
"


*applause*

Bugbread, I've been trying to convince people that "ye" is not "ye" but "the" (and, I suppose, "you" is really "thou"). And I hope I'm right about that, or I'm going to feel like teh idiot.
posted by socratic at 8:55 PM on August 9, 2005


Fraktur does have a certain paranoid style.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:06 PM on August 9, 2005


"Anyone who would letterspace blackletter would screw sheep."

-- Frederic W. Goudy
posted by kirkaracha at 9:07 PM on August 9, 2005


cenoxo: I dunno. How else are they going to advertise the X-Games except with a big X? Doesn't look much like a swastika to me.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:12 PM on August 9, 2005


I like the Heavy Metal aspect, especially in the gratuitous cases. Mit Umlaut!
posted by Ayn Marx at 9:32 PM on August 9, 2005


No mention of the Hitler Diaries can go without a link to Schtonk!
posted by muckster at 10:30 PM on August 9, 2005


Thank you so much for this post.
Next time somebody tells me what fonts I'm allowed to use in some context, I am totally comparing them to Hitler.
posted by Aknaton at 5:55 AM on August 10, 2005


"Anyone who would letterspace blackletter would screw sheep."

Not to be pedantic, but he said "would STEAL sheep," not screw/

He was speaking in public, and peopel didn't talk like that in public back then.


Bugbread, I've been trying to convince people that "ye" is not "ye" but "the" (and, I suppose, "you" is really "thou").

You may be correct on the Þ, but you're definitely correct on the "you/thou" connection. English dropped the informal second person a couple centuries ago (one of the main stumbling blocks for English speakers learning other languages.... hard to explain why it's "Ich liebe dich" and not "Ich liebe sie" for example.
posted by illovich at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2005


socratic:

wonderful use of 'teh'.
posted by catchmurray at 8:31 AM on August 10, 2005


Ironically, I work in an undisclosed government agency and I just received a memorandum that tells me that I am no longer supposed to use the old typeface that worked better for typed and printed materials, courier, and that I should now convert all my printed material to Times New Roman.

I kid you not, though my memo does not have any reference to the Jews, just that its easier to use since we all use microsoft word.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2005


Languagehat debunked the Þ on here a while ago, though I can't seem to find his comment on it...
posted by klangklangston at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2005


Klangklangston: what does "debunk the Þ" mean? I don't think you can debunk an actual letter. Do you mean "debunk the belief that ye is Þe", or "debunk the belief that Þou was the same as you", or what?
posted by Bugbread at 9:38 AM on August 10, 2005


Also, Fraktur.
posted by candyland at 11:17 AM on August 10, 2005


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