Book Excerpt



Edited by Paul Melzer
New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, (2012). 4to. cloth, dust jacket. 320 pages. Edited by Paul Melzer. This work chronicles the history of the Golden Age of American penmanship and calligraphy. The author guides the reader through the lives and careers of some of the most important American penmen, including Platt Rogers Spencer, the Father of American Handwriting, and Spencer's gifted student, George A. Gaskell, whose books and periodicals reached hundreds of thousands of students... READ MORE

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Ross Green

arm-movement 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.

arm 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 illus. 1.14.

Arnold’s 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 styles.

Arnold’s 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.

artistic 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.)

backhand 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.

blackboard 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 blackboard.

branches 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.

broad-edged 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.

broad penSee broad-edged pen.

broad-pen 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.

business capitals — Any basic capital letters used in business writing (see). See illus. 4.76, 7.36.

business 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.

business handwritingSee business writing.

business penmanSee business writer.

business penmanshipSee business writing.

business 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.

business 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.

calligrapher — 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.

calligraphy — 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 also lettering.

card writer — A calligrapher who specialized in card writing (see), especially between the years 1850–1925.

card 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.

chirographer — Formerly, a synonym of calligrapher, penman, scribe, etc. See calligrapher.

chirography — Formerly, a synonym of calligraphy, fine penmanship, and basic penmanship. Today this word (now rare) means only handwriting, basic penmanship.

coarse 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.

coarse pen styleSee business writing.

combined 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.

commercial schoolSee business college.

compound 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 — Copperplate calligraphy (see).

Copperplate 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.

Copperplate penmanship — 1. Copperplate calligraphy (see). — 2. Basic, functional Roundhand penmanship, prevalent 1700–1850. — 3. (British) Light-line script penmanship in general, including Spencerian Script.

copybook — 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 writing manual.

copybook 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).

copy 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 also copybook.

copy stripsSee copy slips.

cursive — 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.

cursive writingSee cursive.

dip pen — A quill pen, reed pen, or nib and penholder, designed for dipping into an inkwell.

Duntonian — 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 published earlier.

Engraver’s 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 Copperplate calligraphy.

engrosser — 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.

Engrosser’s 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.

engrossing — Work of the engrosser (see).

Engrossing ScriptSee Engrosser’s Script.

fine handwritingSee artistic penmanship.

fine 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.

fine writingSee artistic penmanship.

finger 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 illus. 1.14.

finger 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 illus. 1.14.

flourish — 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.

flourishing — The skill or act of creating a flourish. See also flourish (def. 1 and 2).

forearm 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 movement (see).

French 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.

German Roundhand (sometimes spelled German Round Hand; called Rundscbrift in German) — Broad-pen script style, very similar to French Roundhand (see), but often heavier. See illus. 4.62.

German 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.

hairlines (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.

handwriting — Besides its usual sense (informal, rapid writing), handwriting formerly also referred to fine penmanship, or script calligraphy. See also penmanship.

handwriting methodSee penmanship method.

handwriting systemSee penmanship method.

illuminate — To decorate a page or book with gold (gilding), colors, miniature paintings, and designs; to create an illuminated manuscript. See also illumination.

illumination — 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.

iron 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 Fluid.

itinerant 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 itinerant penman.)

Ladies’ 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 illus. 2.7.

letterform — 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.

lettering — 1. Calligraphy, penmanship, handwriting. — 2. Constructed letters (drawn, outlined, filled in, heavily retouched, etc.). — 3. Any lettered material (printed matter, etc.).

light-line penmanshipSee business writing.

longhand — Ordinary penmanship, with words written out in full — as opposed to shorthand.

mercantile collegeSee business college.

muscular 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.

muscular movement writing — Script calligraphy or penmanship produced by the technique of muscular movement (see).

nib — 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.

oblique holder — An oblique penholder (see).

oblique 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) calligraphy.

oblique 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.

off-hand flourishing — 1. The creation of flourished designs — quickly, expertly, and spontaneously, in an “off-hand” manner. — 2. An example of this work. See flourish.

off-hand 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.

Old 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.

Old English TextSee Old English.

Oriental 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.)

Ornamental — Short for Ornamental Penmanship (see), as in: “It is written in Ornamental.”

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 decorative.

Ornamental Script — Ornamental Penmanship (see).

Ornamental Shaded Script — Ornamental Penmanship (see).

Ornamental Writing — Ornamental Penmanship (see).

Ornate Penmanship — Ornamental Penmanship (see).

oval 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.

Palmer MethodSee Palmer Method Writing.

Palmer 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, 7.24, 7.85.

pen — 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.

penholder — 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.

penman — Formerly (before around 1950), a synonym of calligrapher (see), sometimes with the added connotation of a script calligrapher (see) or expert in basic penmanship.

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.

penmanship 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.)

penmanship 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).

penmanship systemSee penmanship method.

pen nibSee nib.

pen staffSee penholder, def. 1.

phonography — Shorthand, especially Pitman Shorthand and similar systems (based on phonetics).

plain writingSee business writing.

pointed-pen 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.

questioned 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.

quill 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.

reed pen — A traditional calligraphy pen, made from a marsh reed. Used for broad-pen calligraphy.

regular slant writingSee slant.

Roundhand (formerly spelled Round Hand) — 1. An older term for Copperplate calligraphy (see). — 2. French or German Roundhand (see both).

running 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 also cursive.

script — 1. Script calligraphy or script writing (see both). — 2. General term for any specific style of calligraphy or penmanship: an alphabet.

script 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!

script 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 pointed-pen calligraphy.

script writing — 1. Basic longhand penmanship, having all or most letters (in a word) joined together. — 2. Script calligraphy (see).

semi-slant writingSee slant.

Shaded Roundhand — Synonym of Engrosser’s Script, Zanerian Roundhand, etc. See Copperplate calligraphy.

shaded 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 Ornamental Penmanship.

shades — 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).

shading — The shading of letters. See shades.

signature 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.

slant — 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 backhand writing.

Spencerian — 1. Relating to the life and work of Platt Rogers Spencer (1800–1864). — 2. Spencerian Script (def. 1–2, see).

Spencerian 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 all).

Spencerian PenmanshipSee Spencerian Script.

Spencerian 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.

steel pen — Steel pen nib. See pen.

sweeps — 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.

text 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.

unshaded — Not having heavier pen-strokes — shades (see) — in basic penmanship or script calligraphy. See also hairlines.

unshaded 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 writing.

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 today.

variable 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.

vertical penmanshipSee vertical writing.

vertical 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.

whole-arm 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.

wrist 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.

writer — Formerly, often meant penman, calligrapher, etc.

writing — Formerly, often meant penmanship, calligraphy, etc.

writing class — Formerly, often meant a basic penmanship class or a calligraphy class.

writing manual — A book containing instruction for calligraphy and/or basic penmanship, often including exemplars to be copied. See also copybook.

writing 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.)

writing methodSee penmanship method.

writing systemSee penmanship method.

Zanerian — 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.

Zanerian 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.

Zanerian 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.

Zanerian 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.