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Schary Reisen buses

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Nov 3rd, 2019.
    Spotted by Frank Grießhammer in Saarbrücken in 2007.
    Source: Uploaded to Flickr by Frank Grießhammer and tagged with “motterombra”. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Spotted by Frank Grießhammer in Saarbrücken in 2007.

    Schary Reisen is a bus operator from Kaiserslautern, Germany. The buses shown in this post were probably designed sometime in the 1990s, with flashy colors and an eye-catching logo in caps from Motter Ombra.

    Of all the whimsical letterforms in Ombra, the H might be the least accepted one. It exhibits an enlarged minuscule construction, as it is common in many blackletter typefaces as well as in hybrid designs like Eckmann-Schrift or Siegfried. It’s one of several details where Othmar Motter’s background in a German-speaking (and, until the 1940s, still commonly fraktur-using) country shows. In his Motter biography, Elias Riedmann mentions that Hertha Larisch-Ramsauer, a blackletter enthusiast, was one of Motter’s formative teachers, and shows a piece of textura calligraphy from his studies at the Graphische in Vienna.

    in the Schary wordmark, Ombra’s H was replaced by a more conventional form. The roof is cut off, and the right stem extended to full height. See also Fu Manchu’s Gigantoid album cover for another example of a mitigated Ombra H.

    A Setra S315HD on tour in Tyrol, Austria in 2001.
    Source: Duncan Payne. License: All Rights Reserved.

    A Setra S315HD on tour in Tyrol, Austria in 2001.


    • Motter Ombra




    Artwork location

    3 Comments on “Schary Reisen buses”

    1. Markus says:
      Nov 4th, 2019 11:10 am

      The Motter Ombra is no Blackletter font.

    2. Hi Markus,

      Thanks for your comment! You have a point: It would be inaccurate to classify Motter Ombra as a blackletter typeface, e.g. it doesn’t have broken curves. It’s an extrabold display face drawn with emphasis on graphical qualities. Serifless but with cut-off ball terminals, it fuses angular, curved, and diagonal shapes, while minimizing the whitespace. What I meant to point out is that some of the letterforms in Ombra are structurally related to blackletter.

      I’ll try to explain by using a visual comparison. The image shows a typical roman (in German: Antiqua; in this case Minion), a common blackletter (Gebrochene Schrift; Alte Schwabacher), and Motter Ombra. This comparison is not about weight, contrast, proportions, or details like terminals. In place of Minion, you could just as well use a Caslon or a Bodoni, or a sans serif like Franklin Gothic or Calibri. And any standard fraktur in place of Alte Schwabacher.

      Not only does Ombra’s H look a bit like an enlarged h with roof. Other letterforms are structurally closer to blackletter than to roman, too: g is single-storey. M and N have the minuscule construction, with a stem on the left, followed by arches. P has a large belly and a distinct notch at the top left. The stem in T is curved. U is stemmed. V and W are asymmetrical, with the left diagonal being separate. And X is made from two semicircles, not two diagonals.

      And then there’s the name. Ombra is Italian for shadow, or darkness. It’s not a blackletter, but definitely a black letter.

      This leads me to another typeface by this designer, Motter Tektura. With its sci-fi look including the monolinear strokes, it can’t be further removed from antiquated blackletter, right? Tektura can be read as a combination of “tech” and typeface names like Futura, Matura, Sculptura. But maybe it’s also intended as a play on textura, and, by extension, as a reference to blackletter?

      Motter Tektura has all of the blackletter-like structural details already described above (apart from the curved stem in T). In addition, it features a monocular a and an e with angled bar. Most interestingly, several of its caps descend below the baseline, like F or P – compare that to the blackletter in the line above. The aperture of G is high and small. W has a vertical middle stem and a curved right side. The asymmetrical Y is closed at the top (like V) and descends a little.

      Not all of these similarities are equally striking, and other glyphs don’t follow the blackletter construction. Still, they are not coincidental. Considering Othmar Motter’s background and education, I think it’s fair to say that Ombra and Tektura exhibit traits that are the result of the designer’s familiarity with blackletter.

    3. Ombra’s |A| also reminds me of another variant of the Latin alphabet: Gaelic type (albeit I reckon it would be a stretch thinking it could have been a direct inspiration).

      AMNPTU Andron 2 EIRAMNPTU Ombra

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