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by riley harrison

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

 Mark Twain

Lately I have made being humbled by technology a daily practice. Everything I’ve been touching hasn’t been turning to gold. I recently became fascinated with computer fonts and thought wouldn’t it be fun to spruce up my blog with some snazzy new fonts. I mean it’s so easy to do in Microsoft Word how hard can it be in WordPress (the software used by many people to write their blog). I’ll save you a lot of time – don’t try it, it’s not worth the effort. There is no guarantee that the font you select in writing your blog will be available on other computers that read your blog. It’s safer just to use the mainstream fonts supplied by the giants in the computer industry (Microsoft, Apple etc.)

I did find one enjoyable story about font usage (it’s always heartwarming when you read about Hitler’s failures and frustrations). The Third Reich decided to decree that only one script or font would be used in Germany. Third Reich propaganda not only employed gothic lettering for its message, but made it the message itself: one slogan read ‘Feel German, think German, speak German, be German, even in your script”. In other words the medium is as important as the message.

But in January 1941, everything suddenly changed; Gothic script was outlawed by decree and was now characterized as ‘Schwabacher-Jewish’. The type was now being associated with the documents of Jewish bankers and the Jewish owners of printing presses. Of course the Jewish bankers had nothing to do with the policy change; the real reason was pragmatism.  “In the occupied territories you just couldn’t read it,” says Erik Spiekermann. “If you were French and saw a sign saying “Uerboten” in Gothic, it could be very confusing”. But the main reason was that the Nazis just couldn’t make enough fonts  – there was a shortage of type. When it came to printing outside Germany, the Nazis found few gothic fonts in French or Dutch foundries. This was in the days before desktop publishing (phototypesetting and laser printing). This was the era of movable metal type. Here is the alphabet in Gothic type:

 german gothic

It’s a beautiful classic font. I have a couple of beer steins decorated with German Gothic type

While browsing on the internet, I found some interesting fonts appropriate for the holiday season. Kathy and I always enclose a letter with our Christmas card. Here is a font that looks rather wintry (that’s snow on top of the letters):


christmass font


We might use this font to print our Christmas letters.  I am sure there are  fonts for other celebratory occasions (Thanksgiving, Valentine’s day, birthdays, anniversaries etc.) . You are only limited by your creative spirit.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Gosselin May 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Hi Riley,
When you speak of fonts you’re in my arena! I started doing calligraphy years ago – it was my first business! The story of the German font is interesting as is your frustration in using one on your blog.
Here is something ironic and fascinating about calligraphy. Apparently when Steve Jobs dropped out of his college program he took a few courses just for fun and calligraphy was one of them. He was entranced by the beauty of calligraphy and this influenced him when later he began working on the Apple. He wanted something not just functional but beautiful. Here’s where the irony enters. Because of this computers were soon “doing calligraphy”. When we incorporated our business in 1986 we knew then that eventually computers would take over. In other words, they caused this beautiful calligraphy to go the way of the dinosaurs! Thankfully we had already began to shift into other business areas by then but I still do calligraphy today!
Lori Gosselin recently posted..What are Your Favourite Summer Activities?My Profile


riley harrison May 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Hi Lori,
I love calligraphy. I’m very envious of anyone with beautiful handwriting. Mine is atrocious. I never have to worry about anybody reading anything I wrote. Computers and typewriters are the great equalizers. It is such a joy to get a beautiful handwritten note. Steve Job was one of a kind. they broke the mold when they made him.
riley harrison recently posted..BEING A GOOD SHOPPER ENTITLES YOU TO FEEL SMUG My Profile


Sean Crawford May 17, 2013 at 12:32 am

Hi Riley,
I suppose gothic came from before cheaper widespread printing, because for the main page each letter would take a nanosecond longer to decipher—I think of cowboys out west learning to read.

I think it is charming when in the back of a book there is a separate page with a centered paragraph telling what font was used. Most people must be mystified, they’d be bored to read about fonts, but those who care about fonts care very much.
I remember telling my college class the difference between serif and sanserif. The former, with varying line widths, is like in our Dick and Jane readers, with the funny “g’s” while the latter , OK for headlines, is harder to read over the long term.

Hi Lori,
My old college had a number of “how to get a job” brochures. One of the brochures recommended taking the man-hours to learn calligraphy, because then you could fill out job applications that way and get hired! I considered it.
Sean Crawford recently posted..Real Men and MeMy Profile


riley harrison May 18, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Hi Sean,
I guess our reading follows our curiosity around like a little puppy. I just finished reading a book on eels – fascinating but not sure why I felt compelled to read it. So many books, so little time.
riley harrison recently posted..BEING A GOOD SHOPPER ENTITLES YOU TO FEEL SMUG My Profile


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