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Fraktur Vorschrift

Loffel, Johannes
Place Made:
Guilford County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
ink and watercolor on laid paper
HOA 8 1/4; WOA 12 7/8
Accession Number:
Fraktur writing example (vorschrift). Ink and watercolor on laid paper. A heading consisting of two lines of large illuminated letters, with the first letter being especially elaborate. Following the decorative heading, which is the opening line of the Lutheran hymn “Ein feste Burg” (“A Mighty Fortress”), the verse continues, written in Gothic and Old German script. Following this are two lines of writing samples of the German script alphabet and numerals. The last line records the date 2 April, 1779, and the name Johannes Löffel, and “Gilford County.” Below the last line of writing is a scroll below which are three radiating flowers. On the left side is a checkered pedestal supporting a small urn from which arises symmetrical stems with leaves, tulips, rosettes, and flowers that surround an inscription in German gothic lettering. Dominant colors: black, brown and red.

Inscription: Ein veste Burg / Ist unser Gott / Ein gute wehr und waffen Er hilft uns frey aus aller Noth
Die uns jetzt hat betroffen Der alt’ böse feind Mit ernst ers / jetzt meint Groß’ macht und viel List Sein’ grausam’ / rüstung ist, Auf erd’ ist nicht sein’s gleichen. Mit unser / macht ist nichts gethan, Wir sind gar bald verlohren Es streit’t / für uns der rechte mann, Den Gott selbst hat erkohren /
A a b c d e f ff g h I k l ll m n o p q r s ss ẞ t tt tt u v w x y z tz
Datum den 2ten April 1779., Johannes Löffel in Gilford Countӱ
On the right side: Kommet her Kinder höret mir zu / ich will euch der Forcht des Herrn lehren. Johannes Löffel. 1779.
A secure fortress is our God A good shield and weapon; He helps us willingly out of all troubles,
That now have encountered us, The old evil enemy is earnestly bent on it, Great strength and much deceit Are his horrid armaments, There is nothing like him on earth. Nothing can be done through our strength we are soon already lost. The righteous man battles for us, that God himself has elected
A a b c d e f ff g h I k l ll m n o p q r s ss t tt tt u v w x y z tz
Date the 2nd April 1779., Johannes Löffel in Guilford County
On the right side: Come here Children listen to me / I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Johannes Löffel. 1779.

Artist: Attributed to Johannes Löffel

This object descended in the Spoon family of Guilford County, North Carolina. It is a classic specimen of the vorschriften, or writing examples, commonly created as gifts for students by teachers in the German American community. Characteristic features of the vorschrift, as found in this piece, include (1) a scripture or hymn verse illuminated in two or three sizes of carefully executed letters often beginning with one large and extremely ornate letter; (2) a second hymn verse, poem, or maxim, often placed at the left side and surrounded by ornamental decoration; (3) examples of proper alphabet lettering and numerals. The date and signature at the bottom of the inscription indicate that the scrivener was Johannes Löffel and that it was produced on April 2, 1779 in Guilford County, North Carolina. The classic format of this piece suggests that its creator was familiar with the traditional vorschrift format, and that he had received training as a teacher and in penmanship. The Löffel or Spoon (English for Löffel) name was common in Guilford, Orange, Alamance and Randolph Counties, North Carolina. It is notable that the creator of this piece used his original German name, Löffel, at a time when many of this family had transitioned to the anglicized name of Spoon. This suggests that Johannes Löffel was a schoolmaster associated with one of the German Lutheran congregations of Guilford, Orange, Alamance or Randolph County.
Land Entries for Orange County, North Carolina recorded in 1779 and 1780 that John Spoon owned land on the waters of Stinking Quarter Creek. His land adjoined properties owned by Henry Eustace McCulloh, Jacob Anthony, John Williams, Philip Ulis, Jacob Moser, and Simon Adamson.

See also:
Weiser, Frederick S. and Howell J. Heaney. The Pennsylvania German Fraktur of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania German Society, 1976.
Weiser, Frederick S. The Gift is Small, the Love is Great. (York, PA.: York Graphic Services, Inc., 1994).

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund