writing — 1. The use of forearm and/or
whole-arm movement (see both) in
writing, as opposed to finger and hand movements only. Arm-movement
writing was standard in the United States during the nineteenth century,
but it dates back at least to the Renaissance writing masters. — 2.
Muscular movement writing (see).
See illus. 1.14.
rest — The “mass of muscles” of the
forearm, just below the elbow, used as a fixed rest in muscular movement
writing. This technique was standard in the nineteenth century, although
it was common in earlier centuries and is found in Renaissance writing
manuals. See muscular movement. See
Japan Ink — A fovorite ink in America
during the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth.
Arnold’s Japan Ink was an iron gall ink (see),
a mild mixture containing logwood extract. Professional penmen usually
combined it with Arnold’s Writing Fluid (see),
to create the perfect ink for Ornamental Penmanship and other script
Writing Fluid — A strong iron gall ink,
containing sulfate of indigo. Arnold’s Writing Fluid was a well-known
“blue-black” ink, popular among calligraphers and everyday writers.
Professional scribes often mixed it with Arnold’s Japan Ink (see),
to create an excellent ink for Ornamental Penmanship and other script
styles requiring delicate hairlines and precision. See
also iron gall ink.
penmanship — A nineteenth-century term for
calligraphy (see), especially
pointedpen calligraphy (see).
(Also called artistic writing, artistic handwriting, fine writing, fine
penmanship, and other names.)
writing — 1. A style of penmanship or
calligraphy that slopes to the left. Sometimes used in engrossing or
advertising work, usually as a minor element. Also used experimentally by
Courtney, Dennis, and others. See
illus. 3.11, 4.48, 4.50, 4.51, 6.5, 6.68. — 2. Penmanship that was
intended to be vertical, or sloping to the right, but has developed a
back-slant in some or all of the writing. This is considered a serious
flaw in basic penmanship.
writing — 1. Complex calligraphy drawn on
a blackboard — a difficult skill that was mastered by A. H. Hinman, F.
B. Courtney, W. C. Henning, and others. See
illus. 6.3, 6.64, 6.65. — 2. Basic penmanship written on a
of penmanship — In the business college (see),
the penmanship department usually had several branches of penmanship:
business writing (basic penmanship), Ornamental Penmanship, card writing,
engrossing, and so forth.
pen — A nib cut so that the “point” is
really an edge (shaped much like a chisel), which meets the writing
surface as a line, creating thick and thin strokes as it moves across the
page. Most traditional calligraphy prior to 1800 was created with
broad-edged nibs, rather than with sharp-pointed, flexible nibs. See
also oblique nib, broad-pen calligraphy, pointed-pen calligraphy. See
illus. 4.12, 4.13, 4.54.
pen — See
calligraphy — Calligraphy written with a
broad-edged pen (see). Prior to
the nineteenth century, nearly all Western calligraphy was written with
broad-edged nibs — rather than with sharp-pointed, flexible nibs. Even
traditional Copperplate calligraphy (before the advent of steel pen nibs,
in the 1820s) — which is today often mistaken for a pointed-pen style
— was usually written with a broad (but narrowly cut) left-oblique nib:
the hairlines were produced with a corner of the nib — a fact easily
confirmed by the quill-cutting instructions found in old writing manuals.
It should also be noted that broad-pen calligraphy was never a “lost
art” during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in America and
England; this is a common myth. See
also pointed-pen calligraphy, Old English, German Text. See
illus. 4.12, 4.54.
capitals — Any basic capital letters used
in business writing (see). See
illus. 4.76, 7.36.
college — A private secondary school,
where students learned basic skills for entering the business world.
During the second half of the nineteenth century there were many hundreds
of business colleges in the United States, including the large chain of
Bryant & Stratton schools (several of which are still in operation
today). The business “colleges” were precursors of modern high
schools. Students learned accounting, bookkeeping, business law, business
mathematics, correspondence, various secretarial skills, and penmanship
for business. This penmanship, usually called business writing (see),
was a major part of the curriculum, since it was considered crucial for
bookkeeping, correspondence, and general office work. Many of America’s
finest calligraphers taught in the penmanship departments of the business
colleges, and students often studied Ornamental Penmanship (see)
and other styles of calligraphy, in addition to basic business writing.
(Also called mercantile college, commercial school, etc.) See illus. 2.2, 5.8, 7.62.
handwriting — See
penman — See
penmanship — See
writer — 1. A calligrapher who specialized
in business writing (see),
especially between the years 1890–1930. — 2. Anyone who attained a
basic level of competence in business writing.
writing — 1. Any simple style of
penmanship widely used in the business world. The enormously popular,
basic Copperplate (Roundhand) penmanship of the eighteenth and early
nineteenth centuries was business writing par excellence: designed for
speed and legibility, yet possessing a high degree of elegance. Later
styles included Spencerian Script (see),
especially in its simpler (less flourished) versions, and specific styles
developed by Charles P. Zaner and others. — 2. A style of light-line
penmanship developed in the early 1890s, probably originated by Charles P.
Zaner. It soon replaced nearly all competing styles. The work of Zaner, A.
N. Palmer, and many other proponents led to its adoption by the business
colleges and by most grammar schools in America. Even today, a century
later, it remains the dominant style of cursive penmanship taught in
elementary schools. (Also called coarse pen style, plain writing, business
penmanship, etc.) See illus. 4.72,
4.76, 5.13, 5.14, 5.18, 5.29, 6.69, 6.75, 6.93, 6.96–6.107, 7.24, 7.36,
7.78, 7.82, 7.85, 7.90.
— Someone who creates calligraphy (see). Not a very common term until the second half of the twentieth
century. Formerly, the usual terms were: penman, fine penman, scribe,
engrosser, writer, etc.
— From the Greek word kalligraphia,
“beautiful writing.” Today calligraphy is the usual umbrella term for
handwritten letterforms considered to have aesthetic value. This includes
the numerous traditional styles, contemporary styles, fine penmanship,
experimental work, and even illegible “calligraphic” mark-making (in
painting and drawing). Calligraphy may be executed with broadedged pens,
sharp-pointed pens (often flexible), brushes, and other writing
implements. Calligraphy is an art form in many cultures. The word
calligraphy first appeared in English early in the seventeenth century,
and has been used continually since then. However, in the United States
before around 1950, the usual term for calligraphy was penmanship (see).
Some other closely related terms were chirography, engrossing, fine
handwriting, and even “writing” (when used in this sense). See
writer — A calligrapher who specialized in
card writing (see), especially
between the years 1850–1925.
writing — The writing out of visiting
cards (also known as calling cards, or just cards) and occasionally other
types of cards (birthday, etc.). Visiting cards were a fixture in
Victorian society, both in the United States and in England. They were
small cards presented when making a business or social call, with the
bearer’s name and (sometimes) address appearing elegantly on one side.
(The other side was left blank, for writing notes.) Although some people
wrote out their own cards, or had them made by a printer, many sought the
services of professional calligraphers. Card writing was an art form among
American calligraphers and was closely associated with signature writing (see),
since elegantly designed signatures, invented by the scribes, were often
used. See illus. 1.10, 3.9.
— Formerly, a synonym of calligrapher, penman, scribe, etc. See
— Formerly, a synonym of calligraphy, fine penmanship, and basic
penmanship. Today this word (now rare) means only handwriting, basic
pen nib — 1. A nib that is rounder and
usually less flexible than a fine nib (which is sharp, and often
flexible). Despite the name, a coarse pen nib (in this sense) can be very
well made. This type of nib — somewhat blunt and not very flexible —
is the preferred nib for modern “business writing” (see).
The term coarse pen nib is rarely used today in this sense. See
also fine pen nib. — 2. A poorly made nib.
pen style — See
movement — A general term describing the
combination of basic types of penmanship movement: whole-arm, muscular
(i.e., forearm), and finger movement (see
all). Specifically, there are at least four categories of combined
movement (as explained by Benjamin Foster in 1830). The first uses
whole-arm movement combined with finger movement to add precision to
capital letters and flourishing. The second uses muscular (forearm)
movement combined with finger movement, again to add precision, especially
in the execution of capital letters and other extended letterforms. The
third combines the whole-arm and forearm movements in succession,
switching back and forth between the two: whole-arm for the capitals and
flourishing, muscular for the small letters. The fourth uses all of the
basic movements together (adding perhaps wrist movement), in complex
combinations. See illus. 1.14.
school — See
curve — A flattened S-shape (also called an ogee), formed by the joining of a convex and
a concave line, where both are symmetrical or proportionally harmonious.
The compound curve is a fundamental design element in Spencerian Script,
Ornamental Penmanship, Copperplate, fine business penmanship, and
flourishing. See illus. 2.3
(Principles 3 and 4).
— Copperplate calligraphy (see).
calligraphy — Developed in the seventeenth
century, and named (much later) for the copper plates upon which it was
sometimes engraved (for printing), Copperplate calligraphy has been one of
the most important lettering styles in Western culture, for more than
three centuries. Copperplate is script calligraphy (see),
based on the round, humanist letterforms favored during the Renaissance
(hence its original name, Roundhand). It is elegant, highly legible, and
reasonably easy to learn. Copperplate was also a basic penmanship style:
the usual handwriting of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (in
England, the U.S., and many other countries) — and it was the foundation
of later hands like Spencerian Script and modern business writing.
Copperplate is actually a large family of related styles. However, there
are two main classes of Copperplate — and today, perhaps somewhat
confusingly, both are called Copperplate calligraphy: 1)
Eighteenth-century British Copperplate, and similar styles (running hand
and other variations), as exemplified by the great work of George Bickham
and many other writing masters; and 2) American Copperplate, developed
after ca. 1860, a heavily shaded style, incorporating many elements of
Spencerian Script (see), and
sometimes elements of Ornamental Penmanship (see). American Copperplate is also called Engraver’s Script,
Engrossing Script, Engrosser’s Script, Zanerian Roundhand, and Shaded
Roundhand (see all), as well as
several other names. There are many variant styles of American
Copperplate, often associated with specific calligraphers. Copperplate
calligraphy in general is also called Copperplate. See
illus. 3.19, 4.55–4.61, 4.65, 7.63, 7.66, 7.80.
penmanship — 1. Copperplate calligraphy (see).
— 2. Basic, functional Roundhand penmanship, prevalent 1700–1850. —
3. (British) Light-line script
penmanship in general, including Spencerian Script.
— A book of exemplars of calligraphy or basic penmanship. These books
were common between 1500 and 1920. Copybooks before around 1800 usually
had full-page exemplars, which the student copied onto separate sheets of
paper. However, in the nineteenth century the trend was towards lines of
model writing at the top (and sometimes middle) of pages that were
otherwise blank (but ruled) — to be carefully copied by the student,
into the book itself. See also
system of teaching penmanship — The use of
copybooks (see copybook) to
teach or learn basic penmanship. Early in the twentieth century, A. N.
Palmer and other penmanship experts objected to using copybooks for
teaching penmanship, considering this unnatural and counterproductive.
Theirs was partly a dislike for the use of exact letterform models for
basic penmanship, to be rigorously imitated by the student; they preferred
instead to teach approximations of good letterforms while concentrating on
the method of their production
— in this case, muscular movement (see).
slips — Small rectangular slips of paper
(often approximately 8.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches high), with either
printed (engraved) or handwritten exemplars of calligraphy and/or basic
penmanship, often tied into a packet with ribbon or string or contained in
an envelope. Platt Rogers Spencer’s first publication was a collection
of his copy slips. The most widely published set of copy slips was George
Gaskell’s Complete Compendium of
Elegant Writing — which inspired Louis Madarasz and many other
Americans to become calligraphers. (Also called copy strips.) See
strips — See
— From the Medieval Latin word cursivus
(“flowing,” “running”). A cursive penmanship style is designed for
speed, having all or most letters (in a word) joined together. The
letterforms are generally simple (unadorned) and slope in the direction of
the writing. Cursive penmanship styles have been used throughout history,
dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. The best-known modern cursive
style is business writing (see).
See also running hand.
writing — See
pen — A quill pen, reed pen, or nib and
penholder, designed for dipping into an inkwell.
— 1. Relating to the life and work of Alvin R. Dunton (1812–1892). —
2. The calligraphic penmanship style of Dunton, similar to Spencerian
Script (def. 1, see), but
Script (sometimes spelled Engravers’
Script) — American Copperplate calligraphy, developed in the late
nineteenth century. This style was often used for engraving on metal —
plaques, jewelry, silverware, etc. — hence the name. (Also called
Copperplate calligraphy, Engrosser’s Script, Engrossing Script, Zanerian
Roundhand, Shaded Roundhand, and other names.) See
— 1. In the United States, roughly between 1830 and 1950, the term
engrosser referred to a professional calligrapher, one who was highly
skilled in many broad-pen and pointed-pen calligraphy styles, as well as
drawing, lettering (elaborately drawn headings, etc.), illuminating,
flourishing, and so forth. Engrossers produced diplomas, resolutions,
calling cards, invitations, and beautifully calligraphed legal documents
of all sorts, including deeds, wills, certificates, and various contracts
(indentures). Many engrossers also did extensive work in lettering for
advertising. Several of America’s most famous calligraphers were
professional engrossers. See illus.
3.46, 4.7, 4.9, 4.10, 4.11, 4.52, 4.88, 4.89, 4.95, 4.98, 4.99, 4.100.
— 2. The term engrosser also designated, for several centuries (and
throughout the Victorian era), what was perhaps a more humble type of
calligrapher: a scrivener or law clerk — a preparer and copier of legal
documents, such as deeds, wills, certificates, various contracts
(indentures), and similar items. These scribes were once legion, but they
were eventually replaced by the typewriter, and by modern copying and
printing techniques. The quality of their penmanship ranged from illegible
hackwork to very beautiful and professional calligraphy.
Script (sometimes spelled Engrossers’
Script) — American Copperplate calligraphy, developed in the late
nineteenth century. This style was often used for lettering the main text
of engrossed documents — diplomas, resolutions, legal documents, etc.
— hence the name. (Also called Copperplate calligraphy, Engraver’s
Script, Engrossing Script, Zanerian Roundhand, Shaded Roundhand, and other
names.) See Copperplate calligraphy.
— Work of the engrosser (see).
Script — See
handwriting — See
pen nib — 1. Fine, in this sense, means
sharp. A sharp and (usually) flexible pen nib, used for script
calligraphy. See also coarse pen
nib. — 2. A well-made nib.
writing — See
movement — Action of the first and second
fingers, and the thumb, while writing. Finger movement was often strongly
discouraged in traditional “muscular movement” writing (see
muscular movement) — however, many expert writers, including the
Spencerians, have used some degree of finger movement, depending upon the
style and size of the writing, and other factors. See
rest — The tips of the fingernails of the
third and fourth fingers, used as a “movable rest” in muscular
movement writing. This technique goes back several centuries, and is found
in Renaissance writing manuals. It allows easy movement of the hand, while
preventing it from turning on its side (considered poor technique). Some
writers used only the little finger for the support, and some turned their
fingers slightly, so that the nails and
flesh touched the paper. In all cases though, the goal was the same:
smooth writing. See also muscular movement. See
— 1. A nonessential design element — an embellishment — added to
calligraphy, penmanship, or lettering, usually by a quick and graceful
movement of the pen. A flourish may also be independent of specific
letters — placed on the page as a design element. (Also called
flourishing.) See illus. 3.20, 3.21, 3.25, 3.28, 3.31, 4.3, 4.5, 4.26, 6.24, 6.25,
6.26, 6.28, 6.35, 6.43. — 2. A flourished design (a bird, etc.).
(Also called flourishing.) See
illus. 2.6, 2.10, 3.15, 3.16, 6.17, 6.20, 6.21, 6.22, 7.17, 7.26.
— The skill or act of creating a flourish. See also flourish (def. 1 and 2).
movement — 1. The use of the forearm in
writing, as opposed to finger and hand movements alone. — 2. An older
term (used by B. F. Foster, P. R. Spencer, and others) meaning muscular
Roundhand (sometimes spelled French Round
Hand; called ronde in French)
— Not to be confused with English Roundhand, Copperplate, etc., French
Roundhand is one of the few script calligraphy alphabets written with a
broad-edged pen. It was once very popular in France, often used for
headings in documents that were primarily written in Copperplate
calligraphy (see). See illus. 4.62.
Roundhand (sometimes spelled German Round
Hand; called Rundscbrift in
German) — Broad-pen script style, very similar to French Roundhand (see), but often heavier. See
Text — A very important broad-pen style
during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. It was
developed in the early eighteenth century by British writing masters and
is a slightly stylized version of the important German blackletter style
known as Fraktur. German Text was one of the two most important broad-pen
styles in America (the other was Old English) during the entire nineteenth
century and well into the twentieth. There are several variant styles of
German Text. See illus. 4.3, 4.4,
4.63, 4.66, 4.86, 4.87, 4.97, 7.35.
(formerly spelled hair-lines) — 1. The very thin pen strokes in script
writing based on thick/thin contrasts (i.e., Copperplate, Spencerian
Script, Ornamental Penmanship). The opposite of a shade (see). — 2. The thinner lines in any alphabet having thick/thin
contrasts, including broad-pen styles.
— Besides its usual sense (informal, rapid writing), handwriting
formerly also referred to fine penmanship, or script calligraphy. See
method — See
system — See
— To decorate a page or book with gold (gilding), colors, miniature
paintings, and designs; to create an illuminated manuscript. See
— The decoration of a page, manuscript, or book, with gold (gilding),
colors, miniature paintings, intricate designs, etc. Illumination was an
art form developed in the Middle Ages. It was revived during the Victorian
era by both amateur enthusiasts and professional calligraphers. See
illus. 3.46, 4.52, 4.53, 7.94, 7.95, 7.96, 7.99, 7.100.
gall ink — Made from tannin (tannic acid),
vitriol (iron sulfate), gum arabic, and water. Good quality iron gall ink
is waterproof, stable in light, and — despite the ink’s mild acidity
— not destructive to paper or vellum (when documents are properly
stored). Iron gall ink was the standard ink in Western civilization from
the Middle Ages until the early twentieth century. Nearly all handwritten
documents intended to be permanent were written with iron gall ink. It was
also highly prized by artists and calligraphers. American scribes used
this ink for script calligraphy and fine penmanship well into the
twentieth century, since it has such wonderful properties, flowing quickly
from the pen and creating beautiful, light hairlines. Today there is a
revival of interest in iron gall ink, and it is once again commercially
available. See also Arnold’s
writing master — In the United States, a
calligrapher and teacher of penmanship who traveled around the country,
setting up temporary classes in basic penmanship and/or calligraphy. These
“schools” lasted a few days or weeks, before the writing master moved
along to the next town. Itinerant writing masters were especially active
during the period 1780–1850, but later they became uncommon, replaced by
stationary schools — mainly the system of business colleges (see)
— and by a flood of how-to books on penmanship and calligraphy and by
lessons sent through the mail. Some of the most famous American
calligraphers spent time as itinerant writing masters. (Also called
Hand — A smaller version of Spencerian
Script (see), slightly more
ornate and delicate, thought to be an excellent correspondence style for
women. In fact, many men (including P. R. Spencer himself) often wrote
this way, especially for private correspondence. (See
illus. 1.15, 1.16.) The idea that boys and girls were normally taught
very different styles of penmanship is a myth, at least in the United
States. Women in business colleges invariably learned the same penmanship
style as the men — basic business writing — but even in the elementary
schools there was little discrimination of this sort. See
— 1. The exact shape of a specific letter, in any established style.
Often refers to ideal models or exemplars. Letterforms may be good, bad,
or mediocre, but most “historical letterforms” are the product of
collective (and anonymous) genius, and therefore worthy of respect and
careful study. — 2. A personal version of any specific style of letter.
In calligraphy and penmanship, no two letterforms are ever exactly the
same, even when models are followed closely.
— 1. Calligraphy, penmanship, handwriting. — 2. Constructed letters
(drawn, outlined, filled in, heavily retouched, etc.). — 3. Any lettered
material (printed matter, etc.).
penmanship — See
— Ordinary penmanship, with words written out in full — as opposed to
college — See
movement — Formerly an important, popular
technique used for ordinary penmanship and for script calligraphy. In this
technique, the arm rests firmly on the desk, upon the “mass of
muscles” of the forearm, just below the elbow, with the elbow protruding
slightly beyond the edge of the desk. (The preferred desk is horizontal.)
The pen is held in the classic three-finger grip, the hand resting upon
the fingernail tips of the third and fourth fingers, the wrist slightly
elevated and parallel to the surface of the table. (See
illus. 1.14.) The muscle mass of the forearm thereby becomes the fixed
resting point: the arm does not change its place on the desk, except by
“rolling” back and forth, or laterally, on the muscles. All movement
of the arm uses these muscles (hence the term muscular
movement) as its fulcrum and pivot point. In “pure” muscular movement,
finger movement is strongly discouraged (but see
combined movement). This technique provides great freedom of motion and
yet a high degree of stability — or as Benjamin Foster put it (in 1830),
“an astonishingly free, bold, and commanding movement” — which, with
proper training, leads to beautiful, accurate penmanship. The muscular
movement technique also gives the writer enormous endurance — an
important feature when people wrote all day long! Muscular movement
writing became standard in the early nineteenth century, promoted by
Joseph Carstairs, Benjamin Foster, Platt Rogers Spencer, and many others;
but it was common before then, too, dating back at least to the
Renaissance writing masters. Today, many sources incorrectly give A. N.
Palmer (1860–1927) credit for inventing muscular movement. (Also called
forearm movement.) For the correct positions of muscular movement, see illus. 1.14. See also muscular movement writing, arm rest,
finger rest, whole-arm movement, and combined movement.
movement writing — Script calligraphy or
penmanship produced by the technique of muscular movement (see).
— 1. The writing end of a quill pen, reed pen, etc., comprised of a
scooped-out section, one or more longitudinal slits (to convey the ink),
and a broad or sharp point. See
illus. 4.13. — 2. A metal (usually steel) penpoint, designed to be
fitted into a penholder. Steel nibs were developed in the 1820s in
England, and became the standard writing implement of calligraphers and
almost everyone else, well into the twentieth century. Before around 1950,
a steel nib was usually just called a pen (see).
The nib + penholder (def. 1) was also called a pen. See
illus. 4.54, 7.28. — 3. A fountain-pen tip.
holder — An oblique penholder (see).
nib — A broad-edged nib (see), cut obliquely (rather than squared-off) — either to the
right (a right-oblique nib), or to the left (a left-oblique nib).
Left-oblique nibs are today called left-handed nibs and thought to be for
left-handed writers only; but in earlier years left-oblique nibs were
standard for right-handers and used for several important broad-pen styles
— and, prior to ca. 1800, they were also used for Copperplate (Roundhand)
penholder — A pen staff with an offset
holder for the nib; frequently used (after ca. 1860) for Copperplate
calligraphy, Spencerian Script, Ornamental Penmanship, and other shaded
styles that slant significantly to the right. An oblique penholder is very
helpful for smooth writing and for maintaining an even slant. It also
alleviates stress on delicate pen nibs — which are otherwise subjected,
with straight penholders, to a stressful scissor action, and quickly wear
out. See illus. 7.28.
flourishing — 1. The creation of
flourished designs — quickly, expertly, and spontaneously, in an
“off-hand” manner. — 2. An example of this work. See
writer — A calligrapher skilled in
Ornamental Penmanship (see), who
worked rapidly and spontaneously, without preparation — in an
“off-hand” manner — but usually with infallible accuracy.
English — A very important broad-pen style
during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. It was
developed in the early eighteenth century by British writing masters and
other calligraphers in Europe. Old English is really a slightly stylized
version of the important medieval blackletter hand known as textus
quadratus (or textura quadrata).
Old English was one of the two most important broad-pen styles in America
(the other was German Text) during the entire nineteenth century and well
into the twentieth century. There are many variant styles of Old English.
(Also called Old English Text.) See
illus. 4.5, 4.6, 4.67, 4.91, 4.92, 7.34.
English Text — See
stick ink — Ink from China, Japan, or
Korea, produced in stick form. The inkstick is one of the Four Treasures
of Oriental calligraphy — the other three being the brush, the paper,
and the inkstone. Inksticks are made from the highest quality carbon
particles (soot), animal or fish glue, and other ingredients — producing
beautiful, lightfast ink when rubbed in a little water, on the inkstone
(which also holds the liquefied ink). Stick ink has been used in the West
by artists and calligraphers for centuries, although obviously its use was
rare compared with iron gall ink (see),
at least before the twentieth century. However, when photolithography was
used to reproduce calligraphy — a practice pioneered by George Gaskell
in the 1870s — Oriental stick ink became almost essential, since its
extreme blackness reproduced much better than iron gall ink, especially
for the hairlines. Louis Madarasz (1859–1910) championed Korean
inksticks for pointed-pen calligraphy during the last ten years of his
life; he advertised this ink and sold it by mail. Also, during the
Victorian era (and later), stick ink was often preferred for broad-pen
calligraphy. (Note: In the older literature, before 1950 or so, Oriental
stick ink was commonly called India ink — with “India” used
synonymously for “Oriental” — but this ink is not from India, and
this usage is now obsolete. The term India ink also sometimes refers to a
shellac-based ink, not very suitable for calligraphy, and unrelated to
Oriental stick ink.)
— Short for Ornamental Penmanship (see), as in: “It is written in Ornamental.”
Penmanship — 1. A very important style of
American script calligraphy, popular after around 1870. Ornamental
Penmanship was derived from Spencerian Script and similar styles, but it
has much heavier “shades” (see),
larger capital letters, and generally more complex flourishing (although
in some versions the flourishing is reduced or omitted). Ornamental
Penmanship was once perhaps the most difficult and highly prized
calligraphy style of them all. Actually, this is a family of styles, with
almost endless variations. An Elegant Hand contains a wealth of examples by masters of
Ornamental Penmanship. See illus.
1.4, 2.9, 3.2, 3.3, 3.7, 3.12, 3.18, 3.32, 3.35, 4.26, 4.74, 4.77,
6.32–6.35, 6.44, 6.45, 6.46, 6.71, 6.76, 6.81, 7.14, 7.29, 7.30, 7.64,
7.68, 7.71, 7.74, 7.83. — 2. In general usage, ornamental penmanship
may refer to any type of penmanship or calligraphy that is highly
Script — Ornamental Penmanship (see).
Shaded Script — Ornamental Penmanship (see).
Writing — Ornamental Penmanship (see).
Penmanship — Ornamental Penmanship (see).
and push-pull drills — Training and
warm-up exercises for penmanship, first used early in the nineteenth
century. Central to the Palmer Method and similar business writing styles.
See illus 1.2, 2.3, 5.33.
Method — See
Palmer Method Writing.
Method Writing — The penmanship system of
A. N. Palmer. Along with the Zanerian System (see),
it dominated penmanship pedagogy in the U.S. for most of the twentieth
century. “Method” here refers both to the writing technique —
muscular movement (see), rarely
taught today — and to the style of the letterforms. This general style
of business writing (see) is
still widely taught in American elementary schools today. See
illus. 4.72, 4.76, 5.13, 5.14, 5.18, 5.29, 6.8, 6.93, 6.96–6.102, 7.9,
— Formerly (before around 1950), pen was the usual term for pen nib or
nib: the small, steel writing implement, inserted into a penholder (pen
staff). A Gillott Principality pen referred to the nib only. However, the
penholder + nib was (and still is) also called a pen.
— 1. Originally a straight wooden staff, usually about six or seven
inches long, designed to hold a pen nib, for writing. Penholders were also
made of metal, ivory, mother-of-pearl, and (later) plastic. — 2. A desk
accessory, designed to hold a pen — either on a rack, or in a type of
enclosed inkwell. After the advent of ballpoint pens (1950s), this type of
desk penholder often imitated an inkwell enclosure. See
also oblique penholder.
— Formerly (before around 1950), a synonym of calligrapher (see),
sometimes with the added connotation of a script calligrapher (see)
or expert in basic penmanship.
— Formerly (before around 1950), a synonym of calligraphy (see),
often connoting script calligraphy (see),
and sometimes basic handwriting skills (especially as taught to children).
Today, penmanship generally means a manner of handwriting — a neutral
term, no longer implying skill.
method — 1. The theory and practice of
position and movement — of fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, whole arm —
during writing, especially as advocated and published by an expert: Palmer
Method, Zanerian System, etc. — 2. The elements and formation of
penmanship letterforms — the actual style — especially in conjunction
with position and movement. — 3. Used loosely to mean a style of
penmanship, regardless of the method used to produce it: Palmer Method
Writing is still written today, but rarely using the method itself,
muscular movement (see). (Also
called penmanship system, writing method, handwriting system etc.)
supervisor — Formerly, the person in
charge of penmanship pedagogy, over-seeing the penmanship teachers and
their curriculum, within a school district or region. Penmanship
supervisors were usually excellent calligraphers themselves (at least
during the heyday of this tradition).
system — See
nib — See
staff — See
penholder, def. 1.
— Shorthand, especially Pitman Shorthand and similar systems (based on
writing — See
calligraphy — Calligraphy created with
pointed nibs, rather than with broadedged nibs. The main styles include
Copperplate, Spencerian Script, Ornamental Penmanship, and fine business
writing — and each has a large number of variant styles. The period
1850–1925 was the golden age of pointed-pen calligraphy in the United
States. See also script calligraphy.
handwriting examiner — A professional
expert witness in legal matters involving handwriting, signature
verification, and so forth. Some of the most famous calligraphers also
worked as questioned handwriting examiners, for example: Daniel T. Ames,
William E. Dennis, Francis B. Courtney, and William C. Henning.
pen — The traditional pen in Western
culture, made from the flight feathers of a goose, swan, turkey, crow, or
(occasionally) other large bird. Goose-quill pens were by far the most
usual, but some American calligraphers preferred turkey quills. Steel pen
nibs gradually replaced quill pens during the nineteenth century, becoming
the usual nibs for penmanship and pointed-pen calligraphy after about
1850. However, quill pens remained very popular among professional
calligraphers in the United States — for broad-pen calligraphy — into
the twentieth century (and they are still used today). See
illus. 4.12, 4.13.
pen — A traditional calligraphy pen, made
from a marsh reed. Used for broad-pen calligraphy.
slant writing — See
(formerly spelled Round Hand) — 1. An older term for Copperplate
calligraphy (see). — 2. French
or German Roundhand (see both).
hand — 1. A small, rapidly written version
of British Copperplate (see
Copperplate calligraphy), very popular in the eighteenth century. — 2.
In the Spencerian Script tradition, widely spaced minuscule letters (i.e.,
not capitals), written smaller than usual, and in a very cursive manner. See illus. 4.84, 6.61, 6.76, 7.79. — 3. Any penmanship style
designed to be written quickly. American “business writing” (see)
is perhaps the ultimate running hand. See
— 1. Script calligraphy or script writing (see both). — 2. General term for any specific style of calligraphy
or penmanship: an alphabet.
calligrapher — Someone who excels at
script calligraphy (see). Louis
Madarasz, Francis B. Courtney, and Albert D. Taylor were three of the most
famous — but a full list of great American script calligraphers would be
very long indeed!
calligraphy — A modern, general term for
calligraphy having all or most letters (in a word) joined together:
Copperplate (Roundhand), Spencerian Script, Ornamental Penmanship, French
Roundhand (ronde), fine business
writing, and so forth. See also
writing — 1. Basic longhand penmanship,
having all or most letters (in a word) joined together. — 2. Script
writing — See
Roundhand — Synonym of Engrosser’s
Script, Zanerian Roundhand, etc. See
script — Pointed-pen calligraphy or
penmanship, having heavier pen strokes, called shades (see),
which contrast with lighter strokes, called hairlines (see). Typical shaded scripts are Copperplate, Spencerian Script, and
— The heavier pen strokes in pointed-pen calligraphy based on thick/thin
contrasts (i.e., Copperplate, Spencerian Script, Ornamental Penmanship)
— marks produced when a flexible pen nib is pressed down on the paper,
causing the halves of the nib to spread and more ink to be deposited. The
opposite of hairlines (see).
— The shading of letters. See
writing — The creation of intricately
designed signatures, in Ornamental Penmanship (see),
usually consisting of many joined letters and complex flourishing.
Signature writing was considered an art form in itself, and one that was
difficult to learn. A master of signature writing could create seemingly
endless variations. This was the favorite style for card writing (see). See illus. 2.4, 3.9,
4.18, 5.4, 5.5, 6.24, 6.25, 6.28–6.30, 6.36–6.38, 7.21, 7.22, 7.89.
— The regular slant of Spencerian Script is 52 degrees. The traditional
slant of Copperplate calligraphy is 54 degrees. The slant of
twentieth-century business writing (Palmer, Zaner, et al.) is often around
60 degrees, although typically no specific slant is given for this style.
Semi-slant writing, an uncommon hand, is nearly vertical, written at about
85 degrees. Vertical writing is written at 90 degrees. The slant of a
specific style may vary considerably, depending upon the era — and the
writer’s taste and inclinations. However, once established by a writer,
the slant should remain highly consistent, at least within a given
document. This is called uniform slant, and it is a fundamental principle
of fine penmanship. See also
— 1. Relating to the life and work of Platt Rogers Spencer
(1800–1864). — 2. Spencerian Script (def. 1–2, see).
Handwriting System — 1. Spencerian Script
(def. 1, see). — 2. The method
of movement and position used in Spencerian Script: muscular movement,
wholearm movement, finger movement (see
Penmanship — See
Script — 1. The calligraphic penmanship
style of Platt Rogers Spencer, first published in the late 1840s. Today,
Spencerian Script is the usual term for all styles similar to Spencer’s
— even those, like A. R. Dunton’s, that were clearly antecedent. See
illus. 1.5, 1.7, 1.11, 1.12, 1.13, 1.15, 1.16, 2.8, 2.10, 6.103, 6.108.
— 2. A term often used by typographers, type designers, and advertising
letterers to signify various styles of Copperplate lettering, including
very heavy Copperplate. This usage is unfortunate — being essentially
unrelated to the work of P. R. Spencer — but it has long been standard.
pen — Steel pen nib. See
— A term coined by Francis B. Courtney, to describe a type of flourish (see).
Sweeps were “a form of elongated Ornamental Script that boldly swept
across the envelope” (W. E. Henning). — See
illus. 6.40, 6.41, 6.48, 6.50, 6.52.
lettering — A general term for Old English
(also called Old English Text), German Text, and sometimes other broad-pen
styles. These styles were frequently used in engrossed documents,
especially for headings (with script calligraphy used for the main text).
They were also standard for filling in diplomas. See
Old English, German Text.
— Not having heavier pen-strokes — shades (see) — in basic penmanship or script calligraphy. See
business writing — Basic business writing
(see), without shades (see),
i.e., without heavier pen-strokes in the capital or minuscule letters.
This is also known as light-line writing, and (especially today) monoline
Unshaded business writing gained
prominence in the United States in the late 1880s.
However, unshaded Copperplate
penmanship was a common (if somewhat informal) variation, going all the
way back to the early 1700s. Old documents written in light-line
Copperplate — and even in unshaded
Spencerian Script — are easy to find
shading — The use of thick/thin contrasts
is a fundamental feature of Western calligraphy and typography. Variable
shading also uses thick/thin contrasts, but in a selective and somewhat
random manner. The heavier strokes are called shades (see),
which contrast with the much lighter marks, called hairlines (see).
Platt Rogers Spencer and Alvin R. Dunton are often credited with
“inventing” variable shading, but its use is actually quite old;
perhaps it was only fully systematized by Spencer, Dunton, and others
early in the nineteenth century. Rather than the predictable thick/thin
contrasts of, say, Copperplate penmanship, the variable shading of
Spencerian Script creates a much lighter texture on the page, while often
imparting a more spontaneous look to the writing. Capital letters are
usually given only one shade (but sometimes more), and most small letters
may also receive one shade, but rarely in sequential letters, and most are
usually left unshaded. Thus the word “summer” might be shaded on the
downstroke of the s and on the
final downstroke of the second m
— with all other parts of the word written lightly (as hairlines). To a
large extent the writer chooses which of the small letters to shade,
following certain simple rules. Often several different weights of shading
are used, with heavier shades on the capital letters and prominent
flourishes. A page of penmanship lettered in this way usually has a very
beautiful texture — and this style can be written more quickly than a
traditional thick/thin style like Copperplate. For some examples of
variable shading, see illus. 2.8,
2.10, 3.32, 3.45, 4.68.
penmanship — See
writing — Basic business writing (see),
but written vertically (without any slant to the right or left). It gained
some slight popularity in the U.S. between 1890 and 1910, but was very
much disliked by A. N. Palmer and many other teachers of penmanship —
who effectively stopped it from being widely accepted.
movement — 1. A movement technique used in
flourishing, and (before around 1880) often for the “striking” of
capital letters (i.e., writing them in a quick, bold, accurate manner;
also called “cutting capitals”). The basic position is that of
muscular movement (see), but the
arm is lifted slightly off the desk, thus leaving only the pen’s point
and (usually) the fingernail tips of the third and fourth fingers touching
the paper. See illus. 1.14. — 2. An earlier version of whole-arm movement (see
def. 1), but different in that the arm does not fully leave the desk but
instead rises just enough so that it can slide gently upon the mass of
muscles of the forearm (below the elbow). In other words, the fixed arm
rest (see) of muscular movement
becomes a movable rest — sliding — like the fingernails described
above. This version of whole-arm movement was advocated widely by both
Joseph Carstairs and Benjamin Foster, early in the nineteenth century. It
was apparently forgotten during the Spencerian era and later, but
nevertheless it may have been used by some fine penmen during this time.
movement — Pivoting movement of the wrist,
causing a lateral movement of the hand during writing. This is not a
standard movement in fine penmanship, although it is sometimes used. See also muscular movement.
— Formerly, often meant penman, calligrapher, etc.
— Formerly, often meant penmanship, calligraphy, etc.
class — Formerly, often meant a basic
penmanship class or a calligraphy class.
manual — A book containing instruction for
calligraphy and/or basic penmanship, often including exemplars to be
copied. See also copybook.
master — A professional calligrapher and
teacher of penmanship, especially one who was active sometime between the
late Renaissance and the early 1800s. (Other terms were used before and
after this period.)
method — See
system — See
— 1. Relating to the life and work of Charles Paxton Zaner
(1864–1918), one of America’s greatest calligraphers. — 2. Relating
to the Zanerian College of Penmanship, founded by Zaner in 1888.
College of Penmanship — Often called The
Zanerian for short. Founded in 1888 by Charles P. Zaner in Columbus, Ohio.
Originally named the Zanerian Art College.
Roundhand — A general style of Copperplate
calligraphy (see), developed by
Charles P. Zaner late in the nineteenth century and taught at the Zanerian
College. See illus. 4.58, 4.59,
4.61, 4.65, 7.63.
System — The popular penmanship method of
Charles Paxton Zaner, first published in the early 1890s. “System”
here refers both to the writing technique — muscular movement (see),
rarely taught today — and to the style of the letterforms. This general
style of business writing (see)
is still widely taught in American elementary schools today. See also Palmer Method Writing. See
illus. 4.76, 6.8, 6.93, 6.96–6.102, 7.24, 7.85.