Fraktur is a folk art form practiced by Pennsylvania Germans principally from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. The name derives from that of a distinctive German script marked by “fractured” pen strokes and the form has clear roots in European folk culture. Fraktur blossomed into a uniquely rich, colorful and iconographic form of expression in the United States, tied to rites of social life.
Most Fraktur drawings created between 1740 and 1860 were in ink and/or watercolors and are found in a wide variety of forms: the Vorschriften (writing samples), the Taufscheine (birth and baptismal certificates), marriage and house blessings, book plates, and floral and figurative scenes. The earlier Fraktur were executed entirely by hand, while printed text became increasingly common in later examples. Common artistic motifs in Fraktur include birds, hearts, and tulips, as well as blackletter and italic calligraphy.
Today, many major American museums, including the American Folk Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art have Fraktur in their collection. Important Fraktur have been sold by major American auction houses and antique dealers for prices in excess of $100,000. The definitive text on Fraktur is widely considered to be The Fraktur-Writings or Illuminated Manuscripts of the Pennsylvania Germans, written by Dr. Donald A. Shelley and published by the Pennsylvania German Society in 1961. In late 2004, the majority of Dr. Shelley’s Fraktur collection was sold at public auction at Pook & Pook, Inc. in Downingtown, Pennsylvania for $913,448.
POOK & POOK are auctioning another large collection of Fraktur folk art on April 22nd 2016, here are some of the lots coming under the hammer. Many elements from Fraktur folk art would make beautiful motifs in our samplers and quilts.
If you have enjoyed today’s blog post you might like to sign up for our newsletter and receive future posts via email.
Subscribers to our newsletter will be the first to hear about new chart releases, antique samplers for sale, special offers and freebies.
Subscribing is easy just fill in your email address in the box at the top right hand side of this page. Don’t forget to add us to your contact list so the newsletters go into your inbox rather than spam.