The Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus
February 11, 2003 7:23 AM   Subscribe

"Bastarda"! What is it? Well, silly, it's a style of Gothic script, of course, used chiefly in the 14th and 15th centuries and so-called because it combines characteristics of the Gothic cursive style with the more formal "textura". Why do I know this? Because I've been surfing the mighty-wonderful Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus. More...
posted by taz (9 comments total)
The Getty thesaurus tells me that Bastarda is also known as "bastard script", "bastardus", "Gothic hybrid", "hybrid", "hybrida", and "hybrid Gothic", and here, just for your edification, is an example of what it looks like, in a page from that beloved blockbuster, 10 weeks on the NYT bestseller list in 1451, "The Antichrist and the Fifteen Signs before Doomsday". I found this, and the Notre Dame Medieval Library site that hosts it, only because I started searching random terms on the Getty Thesaurus and then Googling for the ones that intrigued me. Fun!

It so happens that the "Ellesmere manuscript" of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is also an example of the Bastarda style, but the Huntington Library refused permission for Notre Dame to reproduce images on their site. Bastarda! (BTW, you can also browse the Medieval Library's selection of facsimiles by script style.)
posted by taz at 7:26 AM on February 11, 2003

I've always wondered where Bastarda came from! This is wonderful, taz. I'm having a lot of fun with it - I've already stumpedthe office architecture groupie/know-it-all in residence several times by typing in a phrase and reading him the answer out loud. The Medieval Library's facsimiles bring back good memories of poring over these manuscripts as a child. I remember drawing this one over and over and over again, because I was fascinated by the shapes of the letters, and the columns looked like peppermint sticks.
posted by iconomy at 8:00 AM on February 11, 2003

... for when looking up curse words in the regular dictionary is just too pedestrian...
posted by Space Coyote at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2003

For Iconomy, and any other wacky font geeks that might be lurking... A History of Black Letter Fonts, part one and two, from an old newsletter called "METAe-news". (And do you know how hard it is to find a "Meta" site containing the phrase "French Bastarda"? Well... not so difficult, as it turns out.)

Also, you can download your own free Bastarda here!
posted by taz at 8:53 AM on February 11, 2003

Dieter Steffmann has digitized many blackletter faces of all types, and has them available for free download at his site, Unfortunately, there's no initial preview, so you've got to click the button below each font to get a look at what it is, which makes it a bit hunt-and-peck.
posted by Su at 9:12 AM on February 11, 2003

Great find, taz!

I remember when The Antichrist and the Fifteen Signs before Doomsday came out I loved it, but you know, I read it again recently and it seemed so... obvious. It's sad when you discover how different your tastes are from when you were young.
posted by languagehat at 9:17 AM on February 11, 2003

I remember when The Antichrist and the Fifteen Signs before Doomsday came out

There's a joke in here but I'm too lazy to write it.

Something something John Aschroft something Yanni something something PT Cruiser.

Ha, ha!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:22 AM on February 11, 2003

SSF, there was indeed a joke in there...

Su, a great link, that has more great links; right now I'm stuck on Psymon, a site offering "World Wide Web pages bound by hand using traditional methods as passed down from generation to generation by the old masters."
posted by taz at 11:49 AM on February 11, 2003

The Ellesmere Chaucer is not, alas in Bastarda; it's in anglicana formata, also known as English vernacular bookhand. It's a typical fifteenth century hand for English texts; you'd almost never see Bastarda used for "vulgar" languages like Middle English, though it was used for French. You can see a less than lovely image of the Ellesmere at the Huntington here. It's from the opening of the Wife of Bath's Tale; you will note that the good wife is riding astride, and carries a small whip.

Bastarda is a good compact hand, but for true beauty, I prefer the Uncial scripts. You can see examples in the smaller undecorated letters of the Book of Lindisfarne/The Lindeisfarne Gospels.

posted by medievalist at 2:52 PM on February 11, 2003

« Older Best in Show   |   Turntablism at Berklee Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments