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Illustrated family record (Fraktur)

Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W19418, for Ebenezer Sumner.

Image courtesy NARA (National Archives and Records Administration)

(noun) - From the Latin word fractura ('breaking"), fraktur is a German word that describes an antiquated style of black letter writing. Fraktur, while largely lost as a calligraphic art, lives on as both typeface and font. This, however, is its literal definition.

Fraktur has commonly come to mean a type of certificate, most popular from the late 1700's to around 1900, used by the Pennsylvania Dutch to document births, deaths, family genealogies, and land purchases.

The most delightful -- and highly prized by collectors -- of these types of fraktur are those bordered and illustrated with Pennsylvania Dutch symbols. As time went by, the original "fraktur" black lettering became a less significant element of the certificates. In some cases it disappeared entirely, wholly replaced by handwritten script.

Pronunciation: frahk·tour

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