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Translations of old German script like Suetterlin, Frakturschrift, Kanzleischriften

Suetterlin and other old German handwritings Out of fashion in our digital age, the beautiful old handwritings have faded into an obscure exotic niche existence.

Their long history reaches from the 14th century to the first half of the 20th century – for all these years, different versions of German handwriting were in use. Most people associate old German writing with Suetterlin. However, it is only one of several variants

History of German handwriting script

The origins of German handwriting can be perceived in the gothic Cursive that emerged around the 14th century when people were trying to devise a more free-flowing handwriting.

A number of variants developed in the 17th and 18th century. Our German handwriting was shaped particularly by Michael Bauerfeld, who in the 18th century laid down principles like the peaked letters, the use of a goose quill and the slight slant to the right.

Elements of English handwriting like the succession of thin and thick strokes typical for Copperplate and the 60 degree slant, which gives the handwriting its elegant appearance, were also included.

A new era commenced in the 19th century with the spread of steel nibs. Steel nibs were harder to use and thus limited esthetic possibilities. The letters, formerly shaped quite variably through individual handling of the light and flexible quills, grew more uniform. Slants up to 45 degrees were no longer possible.

Writing experts like Larisch, Koch and Suetterlin identified the pointed nib as the source of the problems German handwriting was facing. The Prussian government recognized the dilemma and responded accordingly.

The Suetterlin handwriting

In 1911, the graphic artist Ludwig Suetterlin was commissioned to create a new, more easily manageable handwriting script for primary schools. To account for children’s limited writing skills, Suetterlin introduced a couple of changes: He placed the letters almost perpendicular to the baseline, changed letter shapes and defined a unified ratio of 1:1:1 for ascender, midpoint and descender. Upstrokes were supposed to be thin and downstrokes thick. Thus, the Suetterlin handwriting could also be written with a Redis nib. It was meant as a starting point to ease school beginners into handwriting and was supposed to transform into a more elaborate grownup handwriting later in life. In the 1920s, Suetterlin replaced the old German handwriting style. In 1941, it was banned.

In addition to Suetterlin, Rudolf Koch created the Offenbach handwriting script that was more similar to the old German Kurrent. It was easily written, but put renewed emphasis on an esthetics by the use of a broad nib. Despite its artistic appearance and manageability, it did not prevail.We offer translations of old German documents. Very old German documents were often written in a special font. This writing is Suetterlin (called old german handwriting) and was developed by Mr. Suetterlin, a Berlin artist. This script was used until about the year 1940.

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