The handwriting of everyday

Discussion in 'Skills and Smarts' started by Artifex, Feb 28, 2020.

  1. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Nottingham, GB
    Over the past few years, I have made an effort to improve my writing (and the tools thereof) beyond the level of a drunken spider. As the art is declining, this has inevitably led to historical reference. My hand now looks (to the inexpert eye) as though it is a good century out of place!

    What I wonder now is, what did the "normal" handwriting of "normal" people look like in the past? How did it change? Almost all material I've seen is about the best, not the typical - or the style of those wealthy enough to concentrate on appearances. Schoolchildren may have been trained in beautiful twirls (my great-grandfather was) - but that's not how they passed notes to each other behind the master's back, is it?

    I've no doubt someone here can shed a little light on the matter. After all, one does not sport a natty hat only to print using a Bic Cristal, does one?

    Similarly, I would be interested in reading any thoughts on how to a learn a pleasant, practical script. Not necessarily an old one, but I suspect the two qualities come to much the same thing...
     
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The "Palmer Method" was the standard penmanship technique taught in American schools during the first half of the 20th Century --

    [​IMG]

    Later methods were variants on the basic technique of Palmer, with minor differences in letter forms.

    If you look at a Palmer textbook, you'll notice most of the first section is devoted to just learning to make curves and swirls without any effort to form letters or words. The idea was that you were taught to use your whole wrist and arm rather than just your hand and fingers to move the pen, which was supposed to encourage greater writing speed.

    Palmer Method exercise books are still pretty easy to find -- they were still being published into the 1970s.
     
    Feraud likes this.
  3. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Nottingham, GB
    Do you know if it was used internationally?

    The style doesn't strike me as familiar, though the idea of writing with your arm sounds interesting. Especially is you have a good desk to work on.

    I've heard of George Bickham, who seems to have been the near opposite of Palmer! Where Palmer was modest and practical, Bickham overdid it:

    [​IMG]

    (That's a modest example - I think I saw one where one of the swirls was developed to the point of playing a violin!)
     
  4. Nobert

    Nobert Practically Family

    Messages:
    771
    Location:
    In the Maine Woods
    I have a reprodustion of instruction manuals in the Spencerian method (copyright 1874), and it's interesting to me that the "correct" method of handwriting was not just about purdy letters, but about instilling proper, upright posture that probably cleansed one of impure thoughts, or rubella, or something.

    Palmer 2.png

    Here's a page featuring my own fledgeling efforts, before I reverted to my own time-honored method of 'Giving up in despair.' In any case, I'm in my late 40s, and I think the ship has sailed on my not growing up hollow-chested and round-shouldered.

    Palmer 1.png
     
  5. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Nottingham, GB
    I wonder how many people genuinely believed that a straight back and a neat hand really led to moral fortitude? Was it just something written to please the overfussy parents of the day?

    I have tried the above sort of exercise, making the same stroke a hundred times, but always found it too dull to maintain concentration. Surely the most important aspect of any learning is to give the topic (and your practice of it) one's full and critical attention?

    To that end, one doesn't want to be diverting brain-power into the content of one's writing, either. Sometimes, I fill a page with whatever comes to mind, in the hope that my normal writing will slowly drift towards the careful mode. Either way, it is fun!

    greetings.jpg
     
    Mr. Nantus and LizzieMaine like this.

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