Type Walk Berlin

One of the highlights of my brief visit to Berlin in July was a short type walk led by Florian Hardwig. The highlight of the highlight was a visit to the Jerusalem und Neues Kirchen cemetery (part of a complex of six cemeteries called Friedhöfe vor dem Halleschen Tor). Here are a few of the most interesting items that Indra Kupferschmid and I came across after we broke away from the rest of the group.

Thefirst is a gravestone for Hermann Beust (1906–1987), a former Bauhausler, who was obviously proud of his time at the school since it is singled out in the inscription—in “Bauhaus” style. The rest of the stone is carved in a distinctive post-World War II German style of roman capitals characterized by minimal serifs and exaggerated proportions (note the high waist of B and E).

Hermann Beust (1906–1987)

Bauhaus logo

There were several stones with inscriptions in Englische Schreibschrift (otherwise known as roundhand in 18th century England). One stood out in particular because the ductus of the pointed pen script is especially visible. In several letters the component parts are actually separated. This can be seen in the g in this detail.

Detail, gravestone in the Jerusalem und Neues Kirchen cemetery (19th c.)

But the most intriguing gravestone of all was a monument c.1806 with an inscription on each of its four sides whose letters are a bizarre mix of neoclassical roman and fraktur forms with some idiosyncratic features. Note especially the d with its diamond shaped bâtarde bowl, the e with its closed eye (so that it looks at first glance like a c, the s with its ball terminals, the chancery curl on the descender of the g and the t with its crossbar that does not cross.

Gravestone (one side), Jerusalem und Neues Kirchen Cemetery (c.1806)

Detail, c.1806 inscription (different side from above).

This is an especially strange inscription given its location and age. Fraktur was the dominant writing style in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century and this is almost entirely “roman”. But then again, there are other 19th c. tombs with roman lettering in the cemetery, a reminder that the history of blackletter in Germany is more nuanced than we realize.