EYER, JOHANN ADAM
produced hundreds of pieces of fraktur for about fifty years, while serving as a schoolmaster in Mennonite and Lutheran schools in Pennsylvania. He initially copiedMennonite or Schwenkfelder schoolmaster artists who made
(writing examples) for their pupils, but quickly began to develop new forms of the art. Hisschool roll book from 1779 to 1787 still exists, making it possible to link surviving fraktur pieces to the school terms of their owners. A
generally contains areligious text elaborately lettered, outlined in normal cursive script, and concluded with the alphabet and a selection of numerals on a full sheet of early Pennsylvania paper, measuring eight by thirteen inches. Eyer’s fastidious hand had an influence on other Pennsylvania schoolmasters for many years. By folding the paper once hemade a
booklet, with four pages of text and an elaborate cover. By cutting a large sheet of it in half lengthwise, he made the pages for a book of musical notes (Eyer was anaccomplished musician and taught musical notation to his students).Johann Eyer was born in Bedminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and taught in Chester and Lancaster Counties, but by about 1786 he and his entirefamily moved to Upper Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, where he taught in the Lutheran school. In 1801 they moved again farther north to HamiltonTownship, Monroe County, where Eyer was a teacher and a clerk at Christ Hamilton Lutheran Church.Eyer never married. As the oldest son he presided over his parental estate, turning it into a valuable one for its day. One brother, Johann Frederick (1770–1827),was a schoolmaster-organist and fraktur artist in Chester, Berks, and Snyder Counties. Another, Ludwig, was Eyer’s agent in developing the town of Bloomsburg inColumbia County, in 1802. Eyer’s good friend, Andreas Kolb, was a Mennonite school-master and fraktur artist in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and the twoexchanged work.In his later years, Eyer made bookplates for hymnals, baptismal records, and many small presentation frakturs. His drawing of a soldier’s wedding along with someof his birds and eagles make him one of the most important practitioners of the art. In his early years, he made some of the finest fraktur that exists, in the form of carefully lettered and illustrated poems. Eyer died in 1837 in Hamilton Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
Fraktur; German American Folk Art;
Pennsylvania German Folk Art; Religious Folk Art; Schwenkfelders
Weiser, Frederick S.
Something for Everyone, Something for You.
Breinigsville, Pa., 1980