Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A modern Finnish Gothic alphabet

Last week, I noticed this war monument* in the Kamppi cemetery, by the Old Church in Helsinki.  It is carved in a stark, forceful version of Gothic, without the square serifs but with the same heavy width of stroke and uniform letter bodies.  Letters have to be robust to survive being carved into granite, a process undertaken today almost invariably with a power chisel.  

The letters e and a break up the rows of vertical
strokes, with half- or whole-round shapes, 
The letter g shows the kind of calligraphic
ingenuity that brings a smile to a calligrapher's
face. And the thought: I've got to try that one!  

The same message appears in three languages: Finnish, Estonian, and Swedish.  

* "The...monument in the Old Church Park was erected in 1919 in memory of the Finnish volunteers who fell in the Estonian war of independence. The bodies of 25 Finns from Helsinki were carried back from Tallinn aboard the icebreaker Wäinämöinen, and a service was held on 16 February 1919." From Park Walks in Helsinki website. 

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