The handwriting of everyday

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

  1. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

    Messages:
    65
    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 As the art is declining, this has inevitably led to historical reference.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...
     
    poetman likes this.
  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:
    65
    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:
    789
    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
     
    scotrace likes this.
  5. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

    Messages:
    65
    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
     
    seres, Mr. Nantus and LizzieMaine like this.
  6. North American Sojouner

    North American Sojouner New in Town

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Mid Missouri
    It's amazing to me how the schools have forgotten penmanship. My father had the most beautiful penmanship I've ever seen, but he was a writer and English Major. Thanks for this thread. I'll post up some fancy writing sometime soon. Like father like son...lol.
    Zim
     
  7. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Messages:
    20,755
    Location:
    London, UK
    I'ma big fan of fountain pens - rarely use anything else now - but 99.9% of my handwriting is for myself alone. I now only have three out of my eleven or so classes which are assessed by handwritten exam, and that is on the way out - it's not uncommon for my students signing in to tutorials to have to borrow a pen. Most of then still handwrite well enough, but it'snot really part of their world any longer - it's a rare student indeed who takes note with pen and paper in a lecture now rather than via laptop or tablet. I don't think handwriting will disappear any time soon, but it's certainly becoming less important in the 'real world'.
     
  8. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,720
    Location:
    New Forest
    You're Nottingham based, try https://www.italic-handwriting.org/ Grammar schools in the UK taught italic handwriting as a way of improving the appearance of the written word, right up to the end of the 1960's, maybe even later.

    There is a way to help you with your concentration. Years ago, before the advent of electronic mail, when all correspondence was a letter, we bought a writing pad and envelopes. In the pad would be a page of horizontal lines that you slid under the page that you were writing on to help you keep your handwriting on an even keel. You can get something similar for caligraphic handwriting, but instead of just horizontal lines it also has diagonals and verticals so that your written words all remain uniform. You can still buy these writing aids from Scribblers, here in the UK. https://scribblers.co.uk/

    When I can get someone to show me how my printer/photocopier works in reverse, I can work it from computer to printer, but not the other way around, but when I can, I will write out a page of A4 in italics for you.
     
  9. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,773
    Location:
    Australia
    The Palmer method generally called cursive script here was taught in Australian schools until the 1980's as far as I know. I learned it but never used it. I don't join my letters. Never liked the look of it and it quickly becomes unreadable unless you try hard. I write by hand once in a while but I am thankful for keyboards and spell check.
     
  10. TarHeel1911

    TarHeel1911 New in Town

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    Southern California
    My great aunt was born prior to WW1; she lived to be 91 and had lovely penmanship until the day she died
     
  11. navetsea

    navetsea My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,751
    Location:
    East Java
    in my elementary school day in the 80's we still have to write cursive at school here, but not slanting italic but instead straightup. as soon as I graduated into junior high, I wrote print letter, a lot less ink, lot clearer to read and memorize my own notes, I often re wrote my own notes during school break to look better. I like the idea of fountain pen, but only bought cheap ones and I use it to write notes, shopping list and such in print letter type, I don't like cursive letter type.
     
  12. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,642
    Location:
    vancouver, canada
    In Canada we used McLeans Compendium (sp?).
     
  13. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,720
    Location:
    New Forest
    Search using words like, calligraphy, cursive, script or italics. There's many to choose from, I'm reluctant to make a recommendation because handwriting styles are something of a personal choice.

    Using this pre-lined guide underneath the page that you are writing on to keep your handwriting looking even and tidy.

    Coverfinal-.jpg
     
  14. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    197
    Location:
    Summerville SC
    I'm among the last generation I believe that practiced penmanship in elementary school and I still clearly recall learning cursive in the second grade. this would be mid 1970s. I remember being singled out often even in high school in the eighties by fellow students that would compliment me on my handwriting and how nice it was. I never really gave it much thought. The last worthwhile thing I learned was typing. I took the class on a lark but liked it and did fine enough not knowing that it would later be beneficial with computers, online forums, email and private messaging. I can pretty much type as fast as I can think the words (but rely on spell check and often have to edit myself.) it also helped in that I was an editor and writer for two instructional art magazines for many years, one national and one internationally distributed. typed on a Mac ... never hand written on paper. fast forward to smartphones, texting, voice to text, paying bills online (no more writing checks) etc., and I find that I rarely pick up a pen or pencil but only to sign my name to divorce papers and the annual tax preparations at Jackson Hewitt. :D I purchased a 1940s Sheaffer Valiant fountain pen and love it but boy was I shocked to find I all but forgot how to write! I hesitated, second guessed my cursive decisions and made extra humps on the Ns and too many or not enough on the Ms and could not remember how to make a cursive letter I and could barely flow out the capital S. (I still don't know how to make a cursive capital F!) I was horrified at how quickly I had forgotten how to write and my penmanship was lost to time. I have since rebuilt confidence and am improving but I still find myself hesitating and making so many mistakes. its like trying to learn to drive a manual car after only driving an automatic. mostly my "cursive" is separated letters approximating fancy printed letters with occasional flair. :D I write much more quickly using just print block letters and find cursive too slow for me instead of speeding my writing up. I scoffed when I heard that cursive writing was no longer going to be taught in schools. now I get it. (having said that I think one should still know how to read cursive but I can see how its pointless to actually use it.) The art of writing is all but extinct and that is unfortunate. my last "pen pal" was probably 1988? Never thought I would see the extinction of hand writing in my lifetime.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
  15. navetsea

    navetsea My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,751
    Location:
    East Java
    in my country, the ownership of a car/ vehicle book is still filled by calligraphic hand writing by someone in vehicle registration/ part of police station office, the last time I went for every 5 years check of the vehicle frame & engine number, I got new number for license plate, not by my own will but sometime you got "lucky" so they need to hold my ownership book to update with the changes, and I need to collect about a month later, but then the corona strikes and I'm reluctant to wait in public waiting room just to collect it, so I'll wait until the virus peak passes.
     
  16. Amy Jeanne

    Amy Jeanne Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,846
    Location:
    Colorado
    4444893975_cfca8ff946_b.jpg 4444893985_a185da4ae7_b.jpg 5012709085_b1b69ce347_b.jpg 4391326236_deb5f7139e_o (1).jpg How about real samples?
     
    Edward Reed likes this.
  17. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    197
    Location:
    Summerville SC
    superb! thanks for sharing! I love seeing actual vintage hand writing. its like seeing a small bit of an individual now long gone. almost brings them back in a way. (can I ask Nellie Anna Chapman out on a date?! :) )
     
  18. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

    Messages:
    65
    Location:
    Nottingham, GB
    "Real" examples like the above certainly do seem much more human. The more I tinker around with pen and paper, the more I find that, while intense concentration can put every stroke on a perfect parallelogramatic grid, by far the nicest forms come out when I stop paying attention!
    I suppose most arts are like that, aren't they?
     
    Edward Reed likes this.
  19. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    197
    Location:
    Summerville SC
    Like the Force! You will know when you are calm, at peace. You must feel the Force around you. -Yoda
    a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.-Obi Wan
    I agree. I can type well when I Am in the zone and just let my mind and fingers go without overthinking or being too aware of the technical part of what I am doing so I can imagine handwriting would be very much the same.
     
  20. The1940sHousewife

    The1940sHousewife New in Town

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Michigan
    People back then were taught scripture and cursive in school. They had to use it everyday instead of just writing out in plain text. Nowadays cursive is not taught in schools anymore.
     

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