Germanica

Séamas Ó Brógáin's picture

I have made a new blackletter type, called Germanica, based mainly on that of Fust and Schöffer (c. 1457). The font includes a number of ligatures and scribal abbreviations. It’s an Opentype font, and it can be downloaded (free of charge) from www.iol.ie/~sob/clonna.html.

riccard0's picture

Nice! :-)
Though more conventional tittles could help.

P.S.: the other links in your page don't seem to work.

Séamas Ó Brógáin's picture

Sorry! Links now fixed.

I don’t know what you mean by “conventional names.”

riccard0's picture

I didn't mean “conventional names”: tittles (double t) are the dots above i and j.

And thanks for the links! :-)

Séamas Ó Brógáin's picture

Ah! My mistake.

The “inverted breve” dots on i and j are those of Fust and Schöffer, which I was imitating. They were also quite conventional, if I’m not mistaken, though of course there were other forms (including the one that resembles an acute accent). In this particular project, authenticity was my main aim, so I stuck fairly closely with F&S.

DTY's picture

This is very nice and also it is very useful to have a textura with a good set of ligatures and abbreviations. The numerals look about a century out of place to me, and stylistically Roman rather than blackletter, though.

This discussion of the tittles inspired me to take a look for some scans of Fust & Schöffer type, and it looks to me like the tittles and hyphens at least in their earlier works like the Mainz Psalter (and also in the 42-line Bible) were drawn in by hand at the rubrication stage. I hadn't realized that before. They may have changed this later; some of the "acute accent" tittles look like they might have been part of the type. Perhaps if it's true that punched matrices weren't developed until c. 1470, before that the tittles may have been considered too difficult to cast?

Séamas Ó Brógáin's picture

The numerals are indeed different. Authentic usage with this type would have been roman numerals (lower case), but then I thought it might be preferable to have “normal” (Hindi-Arabic) numerals also. I found a very good sample of contemporary handwritten numerals, and I began to draw them; but when I printed them in conjunction with the blackletter I hated them and so I deleted them, and instead I just put in ordinary numerals, so that at least there would be something there.

Now I’m not so sure. I would hope that most people who would have a use for this font would not want numerals at all, or if they wanted super-authenticity they would use lower-case roman numerals. But it’s quite a quandary. I can think of compelling reasons for and against every option!

DTY's picture

Good point about Roman numerals being the proper Fust & Schöffer choice, but for the sake of having something in the Arabic numeral slots, what about numerals from one of their slightly later contemporaries of the 1470s or 1480s? There are good examples to choose from among other German printers. It would still be a mashup, but a much less jarring one.

http://www.ndl.go.jp/incunabula/e/font/0479-t04.html
http://www.ndl.go.jp/incunabula/e/font/0597-t04.html
http://www.ndl.go.jp/incunabula/e/font/1002-t02.html

Séamas Ó Brógáin's picture

Thanks for those links. In fact some of those early numerals (especially the Johann Zainer ones) are very similar to the handwritten models I have.

I think I’ll have to give it another try.

DTY's picture

The Zainer numerals don't look like they were very well cut, at least to my eye, so if that's what's closest to your handwritten examples, I can understand why you weren't happy with them.

Séamas Ó Brógáin's picture

I’ve added these numerals, which are a slightly modernised and smoothed version of contemporary designs. I think they look pretty awful (especially in conjunction with the text), but can’t think what else to do.

DTY's picture

They are a bit clunky. I think if you poke around a bit more among fifteenth-century designs you'll find nicer-looking numerals. Over the weekend I tried my hand at drawing a few based on some of Erhart Ratdolt's and found that the designs are better than the ink spread normally makes them look, but it's often quite hard to guess the exact shapes amidst the ink blobs.

Another thing that may be an issue here is choosing the proportions. Your lowercase is taken from the Mainz Psalter, I think? That type is very large - around 44pt, I'm guessing - and the letters are proportioned accordingly. The incunabula with Arabic numerals are generally printed with much smaller type, and of course 12pt type is proportioned very differently from 44pt type, so adjustments will be needed to make such numerals work with Mainz Psalter letters. In addition, your font is very small on the em, and your numerals will need to follow that. At the moment your numerals do not seem small enough on the em to fit with the letters. They should, in fact, be even smaller: Ratdolt's numerals seem to use a "figure x-height" that is around 85% of the "letter x-height".

Séamas Ó Brógáin's picture

Hello. Thanks for your comments and suggestions. (I’m a bit slow in responding because I don’t look here every day.)

I’ve redone the numerals, making them more rounded, and also narrower. (The height aligns with the lower case.) I also adjusted the width, especially of the 1, instead of forcing all numerals to be the same width, which is hardly a requirement of this design.


I’m not sure that I’ll do any more on this. I’ve moved on to other things, and would find it difficult to get the time. Many thanks to all who commented and offered advice.

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