A scholar of fraktur claims that Vorschriften surpass other forms in calligraphic beauty (Shelley, p. 43) and the best examples certainly are the most inspired marriage of writing and illumination within this art form. The fraktur Vorschrift is a model for writing exercises often drawn by schoolteachers and particularly popular among Mennonites and Schwenkfelders. Consisting of Biblical verses or hymns, they were used in the subscription schools that pre-dated the introduction of state-sponsored districts in 1834 and which often survived well after that date. Fraktur as a calligraphic form was evidently not taught in the public schools. This example is drawn from the work of the Hereford Township artist in Berks County.
While exceptions abound, the Vorschrift pays more attention to artistic manipulation of the text than other forms, especially in the first line, often featuring an illuminated capital. Mennonite schoolmaster Christopher Dock (see also presentation fraktur) is said to have introduced this form into the Franconia region at an early date. It is probably he who fixed the typical format of capital-title-body-bottom runner in tradition. Shelley gives highest artistic merit to the Mennonite work of the 1790’s and that of the Schwenkfelders from roughly 1800 – 1815. This early piece was done by Christian Cassel, Montgomery County, close to Dock’s territory.
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