Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Art of Penmanship

Quill pen & oil well

I had to blog about this. The wonders of art of this type alone are interesting enough, but to think that with one single stroke of a pen from the top of the nose of an image depicted of Jesus and not lifting the pen to complete a full image of this magnitude in the middle to late 1800's is what has got me and others questioning just how much truth there is to such art.


So I set out today to find out whatever I could about this wonderfully odd art and try if I might to see what truths or hoaxes this whole business of creating such beautiful art without lifting the pen once it meets with the paper may have to it. Did they not have roller ball type pens back then? I thought they used those style of pens you had to dip into ink to continue to scribe onto anything they wanted to leave a mark on?

Knowles & Maxim claimed it held truth when they copyrighted few of these artistic phenomena's in the late 1880's. And the The International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting have about 20 vintage writing books online you may wish to take a look into.

This one blog I found BibliOdyssey: The Art of Penmanship alone depicts several of these I would imagine Quilled art wonders that were apparently created between 1879 and 1919. Apprently this is more about exercising the hand and whole writing technique than it was the art back then, I just see it as fascinating and well, is it real?


There have been many books related to the art of rare calligraphy and penmanship, here is a site that lists many of them:

Originally sold for one dollar, Real Pen Work boasts that it is "The greatest means ever known for learning to write in an elegant hand."

Hudson Maxim, was an inventor and an entrepreneur, while Alden Knowles was an expert penman, they both set out by trial and error to sell their ink and instructions for elegant writing styles and pen work. The history of their friendship and business relationship is fascinating and was recorded in the beginning of this book.

Real Pen Work 1881 was designed to be a self teaching aid, and it states that by following the simple instructions, even for those who might not find that handwriting comes natural to, should be able to write in a beautiful elegant hand in an incredibly short amount of time. In fact, it says, "There is no more doubt about it than that the sun rises and sets." Now that certainly is some claim!


It starts with "How to Sit at a Desk" and "How to Hold a Pen," these authors stressed the importance of proper posture followed by scales for slants, analysis of capital and small letters, sample alphabets, and Spenserian scripts, as well they shared the "secret" of the tracing process.


Somehow similar patterns can be observed in nature. They are called catalysis spirals, occurring when oxygen and carbon monoxide land on the surface of a platinum crystal. Read more info here

There are detailed examples of flourished birds and ornamental pen-work throughout the book which today can be found for the low price of $24.00 which includes the book and the accompanying CD, which contains all of the images found in the book in PDF, JPEG and TIF formats. These images are an incredible bonus and can be used for scrapbooking, note cards, and countless other projects, since would now be considered Public Domain having been copyrighted more than over 100 years ago.

Real Pen-Work 1881 is a lovely instruction manual and a very interesting piece of handwriting history excellent for anyone who home school. Students can at least learn of the rich heritage of America's golden age of penmanship throughout these beautiful pages and be able to create keepsakes of their own. Still there has been no evidence that could be found to confirm there was any truth in the claims the books held and or how it was those images really came to be.


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