Main article: Schwabacher
Schwabacher was a blackletter form that was much used in early German print typefaces. It continued to be used occasionally until the 20th century. Characteristics of Schwabacher are:
The small letter ⟨o⟩ is rounded on both sides, though at the top and at the bottom, the two strokes join in an angle. Other small letters have analogous forms.
The small letter ⟨g⟩ has a horizontal stroke at its top that forms crosses with the two downward strokes.
The capital letter ⟨H⟩ has a peculiar form somewhat reminiscent of the small letter ⟨h⟩.
Fraktur is a form of blackletter that became the most common German blackletter typeface by the mid-16th century. Its use was so common that often any blackletter form is called Fraktur in Germany. Characteristics of Fraktur are:
The left side of the small letter ⟨o⟩ is formed by an angular stroke, the right side by a rounded stroke. At the top and at the bottom, both strokes join in an angle. Other small letters have analogous forms.
The capital letters are compound of rounded ⟨c⟩-shaped or ⟨s⟩-shaped strokes.
Here is the entire alphabet in Fraktur (minus the long s and the sharp s ⟨ß⟩), using the AMS Euler Fraktur typeface:
Cursiva refers to a very large variety of forms of blackletter; as with modern cursive writing, there is no real standard form. It developed in the 14th century as a simplified form of textualis, with influence from the form of textualis as used for writing charters. Cursiva developed partly because of the introduction of paper, which was smoother than parchment. It was therefore, easier to write quickly on paper in a cursive script.
In cursiva, descenders are more frequent, especially in the letters ⟨f⟩ and ⟨s⟩, and ascenders are curved and looped rather than vertical (seen especially in the letter ⟨d⟩). The letters ⟨a⟩, ⟨g⟩ and ⟨s⟩ (at the end of a word) are very similar to their Carolingian forms. However, not all of these features are found in every example of cursiva, which makes it difficult to determine whether or not a script may be called cursiva at all.
Lieftinck also divided cursiva into three styles: littera cursiva formata was the most legible and calligraphic style. Littera cursiva textualis (or libraria) was the usual form, used for writing standard books, and it generally was written with a larger pen, leading to larger letters. Littera cursiva currens was used for textbooks and other unimportant books and it had very little standardization in forms.
Hybrida is also called bastarda (especially in France), and as its name suggests, is a hybrid form of the script. It is a mixture of textualis and cursiva, developed in the early 15th century. From textualis, it borrowed vertical ascenders, while from cursiva, it borrowed long ⟨f⟩ and ⟨ſ⟩, single-looped ⟨a⟩, and ⟨g⟩ with an open descender (similar to Carolingian forms).
The Donatus-Kalender (also known as Donatus-und-Kalender or D-K) is the name for the metal type design that Gutenberg used in his earliest surviving printed works, dating from the early 1450s. The name is taken from two works: the Ars grammatica of Aelius Donatus, a Latin grammar, and the Kalender (calendar). It is a form of textura.
While an antiqua typeface is usually a compound of roman types and italic types since the 16th-century French typographers, the blackletter typefaces never developed a similar distinction. Instead, they use letterspacing (German Sperrung) for emphasis. When using that method, blackletter ligatures like ⟨ch⟩, ⟨ck⟩, ⟨tz⟩ or ⟨ſt⟩ remain together without additional letterspacing (⟨ſt⟩ is dissolved, though). The use of bold text for emphasis is also alien to blackletter typefaces.
Words from other languages, especially from Romance languages including Latin, are usually typeset in antiqua instead of blackletter. Like that, single antiqua words or phrases may occur within a blackletter text. This does not apply, however, to loanwords that have been incorporated into the language.
English blackletter developed from the form of Carolingian minuscule used there after the Norman Conquest, sometimes called "Romanesque minuscule". Textualis forms developed after 1190 and were used most often until approximately 1300, after which it became used mainly for de luxe manuscripts. English forms of blackletter have been studied extensively and may be divided into many categories. Textualis formata ("Old English" or "blackletter" wink , textualis prescissa (or textualis sine pedibus, as it generally lacks feet on its minims), textualis quadrata (or psalterialis) and semi-quadrata, and textualis rotunda are various forms of high-grade formata styles of blackletter.
The University of Oxford borrowed the littera parisiensis in the 13th century and early 14th century, and the littera oxoniensis form is almost indistinguishable from its Parisian counterpart; however, there are a few differences, such as the round final ⟨s⟩ forms, resembling the number ⟨8⟩, rather than the long ⟨s⟩ used in the final position in the Paris script.
Printers of the late 15th and early 16th centuries commonly used blackletter typefaces, but under the influence of Renaissance tastes, Roman typefaces grew in popularity, until by about 1590 most presses had converted to them. However, blackletter was considered to be more readily legible (especially by the less literate classes of society), and it therefore remained in use throughout the 17th century and into the 18th for documents intended for widespread dissemination, such as proclamations and Acts of Parliament, and for literature aimed at the common people, such as ballads, chivalric romances, and jokebooks.
Chaucer's works had been printed in blackletter in the late 15th century, but were subsequently more usually printed in Roman type. Horace Walpole wrote in 1781 that "I am too, though a Goth, so modern a Goth that I hate the black letter, and I love Chaucer better in Dryden and Baskerville than in his own language and dress."
English cursiva began to be used in the 13th century, and soon replaced littera oxoniensis as the standard university script. The earliest cursive blackletter form is Anglicana, a very round and looped script, which also had a squarer and angular counterpart, Anglicana formata. The formata form was used until the 15th century and also was used to write vernacular texts. An Anglicana bastarda form developed from a mixture of Anglicana and textualis, but by the 16th century, the principal cursive blackletter used in England was the Secretary script, which originated in Italy and came to England by way of France. Secretary script has a somewhat haphazard appearance, and its forms of the letters ⟨a⟩, ⟨g⟩, ⟨r⟩ and ⟨s⟩ are unique, unlike any forms in any other English script.
French textualis was tall and narrow compared to other national forms, and was most fully developed in the late 13th century in Paris. In the 13th century there also was an extremely small version of textualis used to write miniature Bibles, known as "pearl script". Another form of French textualis in this century was the script developed at the University of Paris, littera parisiensis, which also is small in size and designed to be written quickly, not calligraphically.
French cursiva was used from the 13th to the 16th century, when it became highly looped, messy, and slanted. Bastarda, the "hybrid" mixture of cursiva and textualis, developed in the 15th century and was used for vernacular texts as well as Latin. A more angular form of bastarda was used in Burgundy, the lettre de forme or lettre bourgouignonne, for books of hours such as the Très Riches Heures of John, Duke of Berry.
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