Birth and Baptismal Certificate

Francis Portzline, American (born Germany), 1771 - 1857

Made in Snyder County, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America
or made in Union County, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America


Watercolor wash, pigments in gum medium, and ink on wove paper

Sheet: 12 13/16 x 15 9/16 inches (32.5 x 39.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of J. Stogdell Stokes, 1928

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The colorful drawings known today as fraktur (so called because of the "fractured" Gothic script employed) were created as blessings, rewards of merit, or personal records of confirmation, marriage, or baptism, as in this example. Like many fraktur artists, Francis Portzline taught school and had special skills in lettering and painting. In his work, the surrounding birds, butterflies, and flowers reinforce the celebratory nature of the religious ceremony. Such records were important for membership in the Lutheran or Reformed Churches; their texts also offered spiritual guidance for their owners.