I’m not talking about goofy modern varieties with little eyeballs on them or whatever. I’m talking about examples like those alarming old Germanic typefaces where every letter looks like a road map of Dusseldorf. Fonts that, when incautiously mentioned aloud at incunabula conventions, cause the entire room to suddenly go deadly quiet. Scripts that calligraphers demonstrate in order to prove their chops-- but only after staring at a sheet of vellum for minutes, then downing a mouthful of whiskey, muttering grimly, “Okay: let’s do this,” and reaching for the quill. The sort of script one expects to see used in a contract with Satan or a diploma from Miskatonic University. What historic font or script would you use if you were deliberately attempting to impress or intimidate someone?
Whatever the There Will Be Blood typeface is.
You’re looking for a blackletter typeface, most specifically Fraktur.
I want to go to an incunabula conference.
Some of the Fraktur types are much easier than others. I hate the early 16th-century ones where the kerning is very tight (“keming”, hah)-- I wind up with printouts from microfiche where I can’t tell if that’s a dot or a smudge and the cross strokes are very faint, so it’s nearly impossible to distinguish individual letters in a big pile of m, n, w, i, u, o, etc. Maybe I’ll scan an example to share.
(but actually any printed text is greatly preferable to handwritten text, IMO-- especially the sort of fast clerk memo hand with lots of abbreviations. Ugh. This is all in terms of reading, of course)
That’s just a heavily modded Old English. Compare the ‘the’'s in this intimidating masthead.
There are some typefaces that look archaic and vaguely spooky because they duplicate the imperfect type technology of the seventeenth century. The type you’d expect a manual on witchfinding to be printed in. I privately think of these as “Puritan” or “Buccaneer”; can anyone give me the proper name of one of these?
Fraktur / Blackletter (with the nice effect of everything running together)
Other nice examples.
Hey capybara, thanks for the link! The fonts I had in mind look like the ones under the categories Venetian and Garalde, except that the examples given have clean modern strokes; whereas I’m thinking of the cruder style typical of pre-machine tool printing- what you’d expect to see the words “ye olde” printed in.
I have a winner: Ruritania. And it’s free!
Wow, I can’t imagine why they’re not charging money for it.
It looks like it was accidentally designed during a really long telephone conversation.