Uncial And Gothic

These two historical styles of letters will be needed occasionally both in office lettering and lettering in design. They may be found appropriate in putting the titles on the display drawing of a Gothic structure, or in designing the inscription for a piece of ecclesiastical work.

These letters developed as manuscript forms, written with single strokes of a broad pen. The word Uncial, strictly speaking, refers to the rounded form of the early centuries of the Christian era, descending directly from the Roman, but the term as used by designers covers the later developments from it of built up or drawn capitals, particularly the Lombardic. They are sometimes used in all capitals, although not easily read when used in this form. Their chief value is as initials in connection with Gothic lower-case.

When used in carved work these letters are much more effective raised with flat top than sunk. They should never be sunk in V shape. They lend themselves well to etched brass work, either raised and polished on oxidized background, or sunk and enameled. When done in the latter method the initials and ornament are often rubricated.

Gothic capitals are more complicated in form than Uncials, and generally not so good in design. The letter known as Old English is to the general reader the most familiar form of Gothic. A definite rule may be given: - Never use all caps in Gothic.

Gothic lower-case changes from the round Gothic of the tenth century to the pointed Gothic of the twelfth to fifteenth. As a written letter it is made with a broad pen turned at an angle of 45 degrees. Large letters may be drawn in outline and filled in, or, by a skillful draftsman, may be made in single stroke with a flat brush. The one requirement in Gothic lower-case is to keep letters close together.

Plate 82 gives two Uncial (Lombardic) alphabets. The first is of simple form suitable for inscriptions, and is drawn of a size sufficiently large to show its proportions. The width of the stem here is one-sixth of the height, thus the construction square is divided into six parts each way. The second is a pen-drawn form with some of the freedom of the medieval scribe indicated. It would be suitable for painting or illuminating rather than carving.

Plate 83 gives an alphabet of Gothic capitals and corresponding lower-case, adaptable for carved work. Below this is a round, written form of Gothic lower-case, which may be made in single stroke with broad pen or flat brush. The pen-drawn Uncials of Plate 82 should be used as capitals with this alphabet. An example of Gothic title by Bertram G. Goodhue is shown at the bottom of the plate.

Plate 84 is a slant or italic form known as French Script. It is effective for graceful, fanciful effects, but the beginner should be reminded in advance that it is difficult of successful execution.