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Title: Schwabacher  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Blackletter, Fraktur, Emphasis (typography), Typeface, List of typefaces
Collection: Blackletter, Blackletter Typefaces
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A page from the Schedelsche Weltchronik, 1493

The German word Schwabacher (pronounced ) refers to a specific blackletter typeface. The term derives from the town of Schwabach.


  • Characteristics 1
  • History 2
  • Samples 3
  • Notes and references 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


The lower case g and the upper case H have particularly distinctive forms.


The Schwabacher was a blackletter typeface that evolved from textualis under the influence of Humanist type design in Italy. It was nearer to handwriting than the textualis style. In the 16th century, it was displaced by fraktur as the most-used German typeface from about 1530. Thereafter it was in use as a secondary typeface in a similar way to italic.[1] It was still used occasionally until the mid 20th century.

Fraktur was abandoned, although widely used before, by the Nazis with the Normalschrifterlass of 3 January 1941, where it is called Schwabacher Judenlettern "Jew-letters of Schwabach":[2]

Circular letter by Martin Bormann about the Normalschrifterlass.

There is no evidence of any actual connection between Jews and the Schwabacher typeface.


Alte Schwabacher

The German sentence in the figures reads: "Beispiel Alte Schwabacher [Example of old Schwabacher]: Victor jagt zwölf Boxkämpfer quer über den Sylter Deich". This is a nonsense sentence meaning "Victor chases twelve boxers across the great dam of Sylt", but contains all 26 letters of the alphabet plus the German umlauts and is thus an example of a pangram.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Steinberg, S. H. (1961) Five Hundred Years of Printing; 2nd ed. Penguin Books; p. 41
  2. ^ Burke, Christopher (1998), Paul Renner: the Art of Typography, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, pp. 165–167,  

Further reading

  • Friedrich Beck: „Schwabacher Judenlettern“ - Schriftverruf im Dritten Reich. in: Die Kunst des Vernetzens, Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg, 2006, ISBN 3-86650-344-X (pdf)
  • Philipp Luidl: Die Schwabacher – Die ungewöhnlichen Wege der Schwabacher Judenletter. Maro Verlag, Augsburg 2004. ISBN 3-87512-415-4
  • "Vergessen und verdrängt" Schwabach 1918-1945, Ausstellungskatalog Stadtmuseum Schwabach, p. 172

External links

  • "Die Alte Schwabacher Schrift" (in Deutsch). Schwabach SPD. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. 
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