Fraktur Documents

What is Fraktur?

Fraktur is the term for the illuminated documents created in the 18th & 19th centuries by German speaking immigrants to America. Fraktur is typically associated with Pennsylvania, but it can be found anywhere that large groups of German speaking peoples settled, including my home state of Virginia.  Fraktur actually refers to the “fractured” or printed black letter Gothic font that is used in the documents.  It is printed letter by letter as opposed to being written as continuous script.   Fraktur is a form of calligraphy and some people use the terms interchangeably.

If fraktur documents just consisted of printed text, probably few people would pay attention to them or collect them.   However, fraktur are very often, almost always, embellished with colorful decoration.   Fraktur documents are filled with all sorts of familiar flowers, folliage, and birds.   Some of the flowers and birds are easily recognizable, and some are just fanciful representations.    Most of these images are rendered in primary colors; red, yellow and blue or some easy combination of those.

Most of the original fraktur are Geburtschein (birth certificates),  Taufschein (baptismal certificates), family registers.   You also see Haus Segen (house blessings) consisting of scripture or poetry colorfully illustrated.    I create all of these and also marriage certificates.   I am open to creating most any type of fraktur document.   I have seen fraktur posters, flyers, and family trees.

Fraktur Documents

Below are examples of a hand lettered and hand colored Geburtschein , Marriage Certificate, Family Register, and a Haus Segen.  These are my original designs, and are available printed on heavy weight, A4 size paper.  Design 1 (used for the Geburtschein and marriage certificates below) is most appropriate for a Geburtschein, a Taufschein, or marriage certificate.   Design 2 (used for the Haus Segan) is most appropriate for a a short prayer or verse as in a Haus Segan.

I will inscribe your’s or your loved one’s birth or baptismal record, or marriage record on Design 1  for $79.   A short prayer or verse can be inscribed on Design 2 also for $79.  The family register  can be inscribed with any single family’s information for $89.  These documents are all   hand lettered and hand colored prints on A4 calligraphy paper of the original designs shown on this page .  The documents on A4 paper are mounted on foam board and matted for a 11″ x 14″ frame.  Shipping is $10, and there is 5.3% sales tax for VA residents.

You need to understand that these are not prints of finished works. I simply print a line drawing of the original design  as a starting point. The paper may be aged or not; your choice. Then I re-ink the lines where I feel it is necessary,  layout and inscribe the fraktur text using dip pens and calligraphy ink, add additional art where appropriate, and then do the coloring with period correct water colors. The hand coloring and lettering will vary from one document to another. No two documents using the same design are going to be exactly alike.

In addition to the hand lettered and hand colored prints of previous designs; I can produce an original, exclusive design; hand drawn, hand inked, hand lettered, and hand colored in any type or style you like. I can create an all original Geburtschein (birth certificate), Taufschein (baptism  certificate), family register, Haus Segen (house blessing), marriage certificate, or a purely decorative work. Actually, I could create a fraktur style document to commemorate most any event.

A completely original small size document (A4 – 8.27″ X 11.7″, 60lb, hot press, Sennelier Ink & Calligraphy paper), mounted and matted for a 11″x14″ frame, costs $149. An large size document will be created on one quarter sheet (approx. 11″ x 15″) of Arches 140lb cold press paper (the best laid cotton paper you can get these days), mounted and matted for a 16″ x 20″ frame, will cost $179. Use the Contact page to inquire about such custom work. I will want to talk to you on the phone about it to make sure I understand what you want. I will then send you a contract with the details for you to sign and return with a check.  I usually provide a sketch of the fraktur design for approval prior to inking and coloring.

Shipping, packaging and insurance on all paper items are $10. Virginia residents must pay 5.3% VA Sales Tax. Please allow two to four weeks for delivery.

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in contracting for a fraktur document. Make sure to include your phone number so that I can call you about the project.

Geburtschein (Birth Certificate), Taufschein (Baptismal certificate) or Marriage Certificate

Sample Geburtschein fraktur using Design 1
Hand lettered and hand colored sample Geburtschein fraktur using Design 1
Sample marriage certificate fraktur using Design 1
Hand lettered and hand colored sample marriage certificate fraktur using Design 1

Hand colored and hand lettered Geburtschein, Taufschein  or Marriage Certificate print using Design 1 – $79

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in contracting for a fraktur document. Make sure to include your phone number so that I can call you about the project.

Family register

Sample Family Register fraktur using Design 3

Hand colored and hand lettered Family Register print using Design 3 – $89

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in contracting for a fraktur document. Make sure to include your phone number so that I can call you about the project.

Haus Segen (House Blessing)

Hand lettered and hand colored Haus Segen using Design 2 in a Faux Painted Frame
Hand lettered and hand colored Haus Segen using Design 2 in a Faux Painted Frame

Hand colored and hand lettered Haus Segen print using Design 2 – $79

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in contracting for a fraktur document. Make sure to include your phone number so that I can call you about the project.

Vorschrift

A Vorschrift is a lettering example usually done by school masters for the use of their students. Below is my Vorschrift Design 2 I did for my own reference, but I will also do a hand lettered and hand colored copy for you. It is available for $59 each.

Vorschrift - School Master Lettering Sample 2
Vorschrift – School Master Lettering Sample (Vorschrift Design 2) in a Faux Painted Frame

Original Fraktur Water Color – Vorschrift Design 2- $59

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in contracting for a fraktur document. Make sure to include your phone number so that I can call you about the project.

 

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Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with Fraktur Embroidery Insert

The Face of God Fraktur

I decided that I wanted to combine my fraktur (18th & 19th Century German-American folk art) work with my leather work in some way.   Some sort of embroidery seemed the most sensible way to do it.   So, I decided to create an original fraktur design hand embroidered on a canvas insert in the flap of a Fur Trade era hunting pouch.   This hunting pouch (#36) is the result of that idea.   This is not a strictly historically correct pouch.   I have taken some creative license to pursue my artistic interests in fraktur.

The fraktur is titled the Face of God; representative of Jesus Christ (in the form of the peacock) as the human face of the trinity  (in the form of three tulips on each branch of the tree of life stemming from the heart of God) and the model for our lives.   It is stitched on natural cotton duck canvas using cotton embroidery floss.   About half the time to complete this pouch is in the  execution of the fraktur.  More pouches with different original hand embroidered fraktur are to follow.  That art work will be featured here.

The pouch itself is the best that I know how to make.   It is hand stitched using waxed linen thread out of 2-3 oz vegetable tan cowhide, fully lined with a period red print, and incorporating rolled welts, rolled bindings, and a flap lining of calfskin.   The pouch is 8 1/2″ x 9″ overall with a main storage area that is about 5″ x 8″.   There is an internal pocket for small items.  The strap passes through the top of the apron and is stitched inside the pouch for the cleanest possible appearance.  The strap can be adjusted via a brass buckle to a maximum of 57″ top of bag to top of bag.   I will make the strap accommodate any buyer.

As with all my leather work, the leather is stained with the period correct vinegar and iron for a blue-black to dark brown finish.   Mink oil is put on top of that.   I have not aged this pouch in any way.  The wrinkles in the leather are just from turning it.

This pouch is sold, but the bespoke price for a similar pouch is $700 plus $25 shipping/insurance and the applicable Virginia sales tax if shipped to a Virginia resident.

Bag #36 - Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert.
Bag #36 – Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The Face of God.
Bag #36 - Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert - Front
Bag #36 – Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The Face of God.- Front
Bag #36 - Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert - Back
Bag #36 – Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The Face of God.- Back
Bag #36 - Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert - Inside
Bag #36 – Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The Face of God.- Inside
Bag #36 - Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert - Inside
Bag #36 – Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The Face of God.- Inside

The God of Peace and Love

This pouch (#38) is identical to the one above (#36) in all ways except for the fraktur insert.   The insert is hand embroidered on natural cotton duck canvas using French made cotton embroidery floss.   The design is entitled “The God of Peace and Love.”

Pouch #38 is available for sale for $595 plus $25 shipping and any applicable Virginia sales tax.  

Photos of Pouch #38 are shown below.

Bag #38- Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The God of Peace and Love – Front
Bag #38- Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The God of Peace and Love – Back
Bag #38- Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The God of Peace and Love – Front
Bag #38- Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The God of Peace and Love – Inside
Bag #38- Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – The God of Peace and Love – Inside

A Pouch for My Brother

This hunting pouch (#40) was created just for my brother.   He wanted the first bag I created above (#36), but spoke up a little too late.  That bag went fast.  The followup fraktur embroidery that I did wasn’t all that appealing to him.  So,  I created this one.   It has a similar symbology to the first pouch with a single peacock, front and center,  representing Christ as the human face of God.  The three tulips represent the Trinity.  I have just included a photo of the flap.   The rest is pretty much the same as the bags above.

Bag #40- Fur Trade Era Hunting Pouch with embroidered fraktur insert – Front
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Fraktur Illustrations

Original Fraktur Illustrations

Shown here are some of my original designs inspired by 18th and 19th Century fraktur. Fraktur is the term for the illuminated documents created in the 18th & 19th centuries by German speaking immigrants to America.  Fraktur is typically associated with Pennsylvania, but it can be found anywhere that large groups of German speaking peoples settled, including my home state of Virginia.  The originals (as opposed to prints) of the designs shown here are hand drawn, hand inked, and hand colored using period correct water colors. These and my other illustrations are not a copy of antique fraktur but an expression of my own vision and creativity using cohesive motifs from antique documents. These and all my other illustrations of this size are done on 60lb, A4 (8.27″x11.7″), hot-pressed, acid free, ink and calligraphy paper from Sennelier. The work on A4 paper is mounted and matted for a standard 11″x14″ frame. The prices of the original illustrations will vary depending on the time it took to complete them and whether they are framed, plus 5.3% VA Sales tax (for VA residents) and $10 shipping. Unframed but mounted and matted prints can be purchased for just $29 on the same paper as the original.

Birds of Paradise

Purely decorative contemporary framed fraktur water color of stylized birds and flowers.
Water color of stylized birds and flowers in a faux painted frame.

Print – Birds of Paradise – $29

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in purchasing one of the illustrations shown above. Make sure to mention the title of the illustration and whether you want the original (if available) or the print.

 

Celebration

Water color of a green parot and a fireworks of flowers mounted in a hand painted frame.
Water color of a green parot and a fireworks of flowers mounted in a faux painted frame.

Print – Celebration – $29

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in purchasing one of the illustrations shown above. Make sure to mention the title of the illustration and whether you want the original (if available) or the print.

 

Blossoming of Faith

Framed fraktur type water color representative of the Blossoming of Faith.

 

Print – Blossoming of Faith – $29

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in purchasing one of the illustrations shown above. Make sure to mention the title of the illustration and whether you want the original (if available) or the print.

 

Tree of Life

Water color of spiritual tree of life with wheat, thistles, flowers, and an angel

Original Unframed Water Color – Tree of Life – $49 (Sold pending funds)

Print – Tree of Life – $29

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in purchasing one of the illustrations shown above. Make sure to mention the title of the illustration and whether you want the original (if available) or the print.

 

Fraktur Christmas Tree

Illustration of a Pennsylvania Dutch style Christmas tree.

Print – Fraktur Christmas Tree – $29

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in purchasing one of the illustrations shown above. Make sure to mention the title of the illustration and whether you want the original (if available) or the print.

 

12 Point Star

Illustration of yellow and blue 12 point star design reminiscent of Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs.

Print – 12 Point Star – $29

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in purchasing one of the illustrations shown above. Make sure to mention the title of the illustration and whether you want the original (if available) or the print.

 

Strickler 2

colorful decorative work after 19th Century Valley of Virginia fraktur artist Jacob Strickler.

Print – Strickler2 – $29

Please use this Contact Form if you are interested in purchasing one of the illustrations shown above. Make sure to mention the title of the illustration and whether you want the original (if available) or the print.

 

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