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Fraktur, Zimmerman

Ehre Vater artist
Place Made:
Rowan County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
ink and watercolor on paper
HOA 15 3/8; WOA 12 3/4
Accession Number:
Taufschein commemorating the birth and baptism of Sarah Zimerman [sic] who was born in 1777 in Rowan County, NC. Watercolor and ink on wove paper. Primary colors are yellow, green, red, and blue. The document is vertically arranged with the upper portion having a German inscription surrounded on three sides by multi-colored lunettes. Perched on each side lunette is a parrot facing inward and flanked by a large stylized tulip on a leafy stem. The parrot on the right has crest feathers suggesting it is a male. Centering the lower portion of the page is a geometric compass-drawn device of colorful entwined circles surrounded by an English inscription written in copperplate script. This is flanked by two spiral columns on large bases and by stylized flowers on leafy stems. A row of three small evergreen trees is drawn across the bottom of the sheet. An unusual feature in this piece is the dark shape on the left side of the inscription that is probably an attempt by the artist to conceal a writing error or ink blot. Although the German inscription is obviously for a girl, the English inscription in the lower half is directed to a boy, indicating that this artist prepared some of his works in advance, leaving spaces for the pertinent information to be later completed by himself or another person. This was not an uncommon practice.

Sarah Zimerman / ist geboren in Northcarolina / in Rowan County, im Jahr / den 10ten Merz 1777. / Eltern sind Christian Zimerman und sein / christliches Eheweib Catharina geb. Mayer / ist zur heiligen Tauffe gebracht worden bey dem / Hr. Beck 1. Pr: Tauffzeugen wa / ren Beck und seine Frau, Georg Frey / u. S. Fr. Catharina.
Sarah Zimmerman / was born in North Carolina / in Rowan County, in the year / the 10th of March 1777. / Parents are Christian Zimerman and his / Christian wife Catharina, nee Mayer. / She was brought to holy Baptism by / Mr. Beck, minister; The sponsors were / Beck and his wife, George Frey / and his wife Catharina.
It is a commendable thing for a boy to apply his mind to the study of good letters, they will always be useful to him, they will procure him the love and favour of good men, which those that are wise value more than riches and pleasure.

Artist/Maker: Ehre Vater Artist (working 1782-1828). This itinerant artist was given the working name of the Ehre Vater Artist in 1961 by Donald Shelley in his publication Fraktur Writings or Illuminated Manuscripts of the Pennsylvania Germans (1961: Pennsylvania German Folklore Society). The name derives from the artist’s frequent use of the bold masthead “Ehre Vater und Mutter” (Honor Father and Mother). Scholars John Bivins and Frederick Weiser have suggested that the artist may have been an itinerant parochial schoolmaster of the Lutheran or Reformed faith. The artist’s attributed works cover a wide geographic range from the “Dutch Fork” region of South Carolina through North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The largest concentrations of works appear in the Germanic communities of Pennsylvania and the Moravian settlements of the Wachovia Tract in North Carolina, where most of the known works were created for families in the Friedberg and Friedland communities. The relative uniformity of the North Carolina works suggests that they may have been produced within a brief time span during the first decade of the 19th century. The majority of the texts are written with accomplished penmanship in Gothic and copperplate scripts, and occasionally in old German script. Motifs commonly used by this artist include leafy vines and flowers, large stylized tulips, overlapping veined leaves, lunettes, hearts, parrots (one of which is often crested indicating a male), spiral columns, small colorful dots, a row of evergreen trees, and colorfully ornamented compass-drawn devices. A three-dimensional effect on flowers, hearts and leaves was often achieved through a shading technique seldom employed by fraktur artists. The majority of the Ehre Vater Artist’s works were executed in a vertical format. Several fraktur by this artist are on paper that bears the “S” watermark of the Salem (NC) Paper Mill built by Gottlieb Schober in 1790 and operated by him in partnership with different residents of Salem until 1836 when it was sold to John Christian Blum.

Bivins, John, Jr. “Fraktur in the South: An Itinerant Artist.” MESDA Journal vol. I, no. 2 (November 1975).
Kolbe, Christian and Brent Holcomb, “Fraktur in the ‘Dutch Fork’ Area of South Carolina,” MESDA Journal vol. 5, no. 2: 36-51 (November 1979)
Welshimer, Paula and John Bivins. Moravian Decorative Arts in North Carolina 1981, p.91

Related Objects: Other objects in the Old Salem and MESDA collections attributed to this artist include Acc#’s 209.2 Taufschein for Maria Hege; 4646.1 Taufschein for Georg Hege; 5646 Taufschein for Maria Margaretha Hausihl; 5782 Taufschein for Anna Suzanna Schultz

Taufschein or birth and baptismal certificate, painted for Sarah Zimmerman who was born in 1777 in the North Carolina Moravian community of Friedberg. The parents were Christian and Catharine Zimmerman, and the baptism sponsors were the Minister, Valentine Beck and his wife and George and Catharine Frey. Valentine Beck was Minister of the Friedberg Congregation from 1777-1784 and of the Bethania Congregation from 1784 until his death in 1791. This is attributed to the anonymous itinerant artist, a non-Moravian, who has been identified by his style as the Ehre Vater Artist.