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Tilman Riemenschneider, Lexikographisches Institut

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Apr 12th, 2020. Artwork published in .
Tilman Riemenschneider, Lexikographisches Institut 1
Source: Antiquariat Kretzer. License: All Rights Reserved.

Blackletter in the 1980s: This monograph about Tilman Riemenschneider was published in 1983 by the Lexikographisches Institut in Munich. Gottfried Sello provided the texts, Toni Schneiders the photographs.

The title on the dust jacket is set in Manuskript-Gotisch, in all-lowercase letters, with a long s (ſ) and a ch ligature, as prescribed by the traditional German rules for typesetting blackletter.

In an article for Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Emil Wetzig discusses the typeface and its origins. Manuskript-Gotisch was first offered by the Bauer foundry in 1899, “sadly to minimal success”. A number of ads and mentions from 1925 suggests that it was given a second chance in that year, probably in response to Stempel’s release of Caslon-Gotisch in 1924. According to the foundry, it’s a purely gothic book face, as used in the handwritten works by Wynkyn de Worde. In the early 18th century, it was cut in steel by William Caslon I [see Caslon Text]. The Bauer foundry amended and modernized it by recutting the capitals of the smaller sizes. Caslon, in turn, may have based his design on earlier models, too – one can find this style already in a splendid book printed by Wolfgang Hopyl in 1514, says Wetzig. In the comments to a previous post on Fonts In Use, Blythwood provided more info about the history of Caslon’s Two-Line Great Primer Black.

With roots in the early 1500s, Manuskript-Gotisch is a period-correct choice: Riemenschneider was born around 1460 and died 7 July 1531. The face carved in wood belongs to one of the apostles to the left of the Marienaltar in the Herrgottskirche Creglingen, made by Riemenschneider probably between 1505 and 1508.

Manuskript-Gotisch is one of a mere fifteen blackletter typefaces – out of a total of 1,400 headline faces – included in the E3 catalog (1982) from Berthold Fototypes. Of these 15 styles, five belong to the textura genre. In addition to Manuskript-Gotisch, that’s Breda-Gotisch, Fette Gotisch, Ganz Grobe Gotisch, and the simplified Tannenberg.

Tilman Riemenschneider, Lexikographisches Institut 2
Source: Antiquariat Hans Wäger (edited). License: All Rights Reserved.


  • Manuskript-Gotisch
  • Berthold Garamond




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3 Comments on “Tilman Riemenschneider, Lexikographisches Institut”

  1. This jacket is not the first time that reversed Manuskript-Gotisch was used in connection with Riemenschneider. Here it’s shown in mixed case in Progress Filmprogramm Nr. 107 / 58 for a feature film about the master sculptor and woodcarver, directed by Helmut Spieß and produced by DEFA in East Germany in 1958:

    Image: Hannes Ludwig / Ost-Film

  2. It looks lovely. It’s understandable that they’d find the need to offer harmonised or alternate capitals-when you look at the magnificent set of texturas in Oxford University Press’s 1706 specimen it’s clear that capitals varied a lot by size, doubtless partly because the types were engraved by different people and partly because of the difficulties of getting all those lines engraved manually in small sizes. The Caslon 1785 specimen is similar, even though William Caslon I and II cut most of the blackletters shown-all but the lower case of English Black no. 2, according to Mosley. (I found the comment by Albert Kapr you translated very interesting to read.) They seem to have not used the 'ch’ ligature many of these types had.

    It’s annoying that they don’t specify a size or book for this 1514 type and they might not mean only one typeface, but they could be thinking of the magnificent 2-line Great Primer or Moyen Canon used by Hopyl from 1504 (it was a standard type in French Catholic prayerbooks for setting the canon of the mass, according to Johnson). It was the one I wrote about in the other article; Vervliet shows the PMM’s surviving version; de Worde certainly used it. (There’s a Printing History article on Google Books that highlights its use in a Hopyl book of 1514 but I can only read snippets of it.) Somewhere along the line it seems like the 'C’ got changed to a more roman form from those versions-the two-line great primer in a c. 1665 specimen in Carter and Ricks that could be by Nicholas Nicholls has this form, and it’s in all the other texturas of the OUP specimen. But this could easily be inspired by a range of sizes of texturas, not any specific one. I’m a bit confused by the reference to “handschriftlich” works of de Worde when they were of course printed-I wonder if “handschriftlich” was intended to mean “calligraphic” not “handwritten”.

    Incidentally, reading Hans Andree’s comparison site of book faces Berthold Garamond makes a really great case to be the best Garamond of all at text size.

  3. (Sorry-I misses that it does have a ‘ch’ ligature-a lot of these types have a much bigger one!)

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