American Wood Type
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Blackletter is a general name used to describe broad-pen scripts developed in the Middle Ages; the darkness of the letters overpowers the lightness of the page. There are several distinct styles of blackletter, including Textura, Rotunda, Schwabacher and Fraktur. The Fraktur, developed early in the sixteenth century, is named for its distinctive broken strokes, where the emphasis is on the transition points between written strokes. Because of the prevalence of these types in Germany and the central European region, they were typically referred to as Germans.
The first blackletter in wood type were two designs in the Textura style called Black and Open Black, which appeared in George Nesbitt’s 1838 First Premium Wood Types, Cut by Machinery. Wells & Webb would show a Fraktur style named German in their 1854 Specimens of Wood Type. This design would remain prevalent throughout the 1850s and 1860s. William Page began to patent blackletter types in 1866, and in his October 1870 Specimens of Wood Type, all fifty-four pages were exclusively dedicated to blackletter types, including several intricate chromatic designs.
The blackletter types in the collection are predominantly Fraktur style.