Author Topic: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?  (Read 277 times)

Offline Trazo

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Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« on: March 02, 2021, 04:07:47 PM »
@AnasaziWrites Mr.Meub's writing is really awesome: clean, simple, elegant. Thanks for sharing.

In the advertising page of the American Penman one thing puzzles me. There is an add of an oblique holder of the Palmer co. explicitly recommending it for business writing. I don't remember to have seen any mention to the oblique holder as a suitable tool in any of the business penmanship methods I have come across. I guess the Palmer co. just wanted to sell their goods to any public, but is there any period evidence of using an oblique for plain business writing purposes?

Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2021, 06:20:33 AM »
I like oblique holders for business writing because the orientation of the nib allows the times to open equally and it has a smoother feel. The way I hold a straight holder - I always get a *draggy* feel - because the nib is not lined up with the direction of the strokes.

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2021, 12:08:53 PM »
Great observation @Trazo . I have separated this into its own topic so as not to hijack the other thread. And because I find it such an interesting question!

I have seen several mentions of the oblique holder recommended for business writing in the old texts. There is also a distinction made between business and ornamental writing and using an oblique.

In his 1884 guide, Gaskell called the oblique, “the best in use for ordinary [business] writing” but unfit for flourishing because the pen is reversed.

Daniel T. Ames (of Ames Compendium) mentions the preference for an oblique holder [in reference to business writing] in the Penman’s Art Journal, 1881: “The advantage is in the fact that with a straight pen or holder, it is necessary to turn the hand toward the body beyond what is natural in order that the nib of the pen may squarely face the paper and each rest under equal pressure which is necessary for perfectly smooth lines, which difficulty an oblique pen or holder obviates by changing the angle of the pen points instead of forcing the hand into difficult or unnatural positions.”

Rene Guillard, who developed “penmanship fever” after seeing Bloser’s fine work, mentions in his lessons for Ornamental Penmanship, that you must have the best materials for your work, including an oblique pen holder, properly adjusted. He then goes on to describe the pen hold as the same for business writing.

What is interesting though is that Palmer says in his book (1915) to never use an oblique holder for business writing as it is “out of place and of no advantage.” He further writes, “Nothing beats an oblique for ornamental writing, but there its utility ends.” So it is curious that Palmer & Co would be advertising an oblique holder, especially for business writing.

Oblique pen holders really came into use after about 1860. (Oblique nibs however were in use prior to 1800). Ornamental writing became more popular around 1870. It’s peculiar to me that an oblique would be recommended for Ornamental but not business writing when the slant is the same. While ornamental has significant shading, the pressure is still placed on a straight pen nib during business writing. The oblique alleviates that stress. Perhaps some of the resistance was refusal to change set ways?

I agree with Jean, I always use an oblique for the same reasons.
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline lyric

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2021, 04:52:23 AM »
My Curv-E sits prettily in place on the desk being looked at daily.  This discussion may have fueled a reason to put her to work after all.  Learning cursive/bp I put calligraphy on hold and am not using my pens designated for calligraphy.

Glad I saw this thread.
Scribbalicously yours, Lyric
Calligraphy Journey began 01.06.2020
Penwomanship began 10/2020 :-)

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2021, 02:17:06 PM »
If we go back to the beginning, the oblique holder and oblique pen were both included in the same patent by William Brockedon and Sampson Morden in 1831. The main benefit described in the patent was not for decorative writing, but that this would allow a pen to last longer as both tines were now moving across the page evenly and would thus wear evenly.

Over the years, the oblique holder generally does not show up as much in stationery catalogs or office supply catalogs. If they do appear, there may be one type alongside 15 or 20 different straight holders. It does seem that the oblique holder was mostly adopted by penman, but it was originally designed as an aid for preserving the tines of your nib while everyday writing.

So, there's no rule or law or even good advice to use your oblique holder for only decorative writing. You're just taking advantage of the benefits envisioned by the original owners.

I've attached a copy of a short side-bar article I wrote on the origins of the oblique holder and oblique pen for the summer 2020 issue of The Pennant, the magazine for the Pen Collectors of America.
Check out my steel pen history blog
https://thesteelpen.com/

Offline Trazo

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2021, 03:22:29 PM »
Thank you @Erica McPhee @AAAndrew for sharing your knowledge. As @jeanwilson says, I find the oblique holder very suitable for any slanted (and even non slanted) script, but I am interested in the historical evidence of its use for plain business writing. I have just realized that Tamblyn also accepts the oblique holder, but in all his pictures and diagrams the straight holder is the only one represented. In the Ziller's method of business writing there are indeed two photographs showing how you should hold the oblique holder. 

By the way, do you know about any today's business penmanship practitioner who uses the oblique holder?

Thanks again.


Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2021, 10:14:07 PM »
@lyric Give it a go! It takes a bit to get used to it but it is all I use now!  ;D

Thanks @AAAndrew ! Fascinating information!

@Trazo The only ones I know who do business writing are Michael Sull and Michael Ward and both use an oblique.
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline Trazo

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2021, 02:44:55 PM »
Well, there are many people posting their business writing on social media, but all of them seem to use a straight holder. And we have in the forum a great specialist as @daviddigi who surely has more information on the topic. I only know Mr. Sull and Mr. Ward as Spencerian penmen and I haven't seen any of their work in business writing. However, I am now attending a long term on-line Spencerian class with Mike Ward, so I will ask him about the oblique holder. Thanks again.

Offline daviddigi

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2021, 03:37:22 PM »
@Trazo Bryan (@icursive on Instagram) is one of the best and he often uses an oblique for business penmanship (and offhand flourishing as well).

For me personally, an oblique holder just feels different than a straight. It puts me more into a spencerian kind of mindset, which slows my writing down and gives me a little more control. That said, I still think I do my best BP writing with a straight holder, or maybe I just feels more comfortable to me.
Sincerely, Dave aka @PerfectBiscuits
Specializing in Business Penmanship, Palmer Method, American Cursive.
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Offline Trazo

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2021, 11:25:34 AM »
Thanks for your answer @daviddigi I have been followin @icursive in Instagram for a couple of months now and definitely his work is amazing. However, in the videos I have watched, he seems to use an oblique for Spencerian and OP , but a straight holder (or even a fountain pen) for BW.

As I only use the straight holder for BW, I also have a kind of mental connection between the script and the tool. I guess we all are Pavlov's dogs.  :)

Offline daviddigi

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2021, 11:35:21 AM »
@Trazo - Bryan can do it all. I faintly remember him using an oblique for BP, but that was a long time ago. I bet if you scroll way back in his archives you'll find some videos of him writing BP with an oblique, or maybe my memory is deceiving me.

But yes, at the end of the day it's all mental. As long as your brain knows where the pen point is relative to your hand, I don't think it really matters if you use oblique vs straight for BP.
Sincerely, Dave aka @PerfectBiscuits
Specializing in Business Penmanship, Palmer Method, American Cursive.
Consistent Cursive (free course) | ThePalmerMethod.com

Offline Trazo

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2021, 12:43:20 PM »
Just to throw something else into the pot. Today I realized that the oblique holder appears in The New Spencerian Compendium, but in the place where one doesn't expect it all (al least I didn't expect it): the authors recommend the oblique for drawing. This is the only section in the book where the oblique is depicted (and probably at all mentioned). For a complete different reason but I was puzzled again, so I consulted Guptill's Drawing with Pen an Ink, which is supposed to be the bible on the topic. No mention of the oblique at all. I am aware that Guptill's book is some forty years younger than the Compendium, but I don't think that explains the whole thing.

Does anybody know if there is any record of any artist (past or present) drawing with an oblique holder?

Well, the oblique seems to be a more versatile tool that I thought. I guess you can also eat spaghetti or do some knitting with it. I may try.


Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2021, 07:25:30 AM »
IMHO, people are creative. Some people will take any new tool and use it the way it was intended and then they start trying it out in every way they can imagine. Some purists might object to experimentation. Then there are the people who might try the new invention - and it doesn't please them, so they reject it. I'm a little bit that way with light tables. I know a lot of teachers recommend them and obviously I see the usefulness. But, I can't stand using them. I've met other people who can't stand them. We tend to be people who achieved a level of proficiency without them - so we are not dependent on them. If someone took our pencils away from us -- I'm sure we would learn to love them. Yes, it takes longer to pencil in guidelines - but those of us who do feel like we get more precision. We'd have to do duplicates of everything to see it. Nobody has time for that. So, we stick to our preferred method.

People who start out with light tables aren't going to turn against them. And it's the same with preferred nibs and holders. Each person is on a journey of personal preference. Teachers can be very opinionated - and some students will be devoted to whatever they were taught. Other students will be very experimental and figure out alternatives that they prefer. All of the people who were selling systems for learning business writing were motivated to convince people that THEIR system was the best because of *whatever* they decided was the best. In the end - the sellers of the systems did not really have any control over how successful each student was. Some students would be wildly successful with any system. Others would have very little success - no matter what they tried.

In my years of attending IAMPETH -- there were always spirited debates about the how's and why's and the history. As with any topic - there are lots of opinions. It's fun to gather the opinions - but I'm not sure there will ever be any source that will be the *absolute true story* of how everything happened.

Offline Trazo

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing?
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2021, 03:06:04 PM »
I had a Spencerian class with Mike Ward yesterday and, as I promised, I asked him about the use of an oblique holder in BW. The question was absolutely off-topic, but he is extremely nice and he is always keen to answer any question and extend the class log beyond the planned time. Well, his answer sounds something like that: he doesn't know of any historical record of using an oblique for BW and he didn't use it (he says he is not doing BW this days); however he doesn't understand why the old methods proscribe (or at least don't recommend) an oblique for BW, as you surely can have good results with it; he guesses the reason is that there are no shades so the perfect alignment with the slant is not so vital.


Offline Daniel McGill

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Re: Oblique Holder for Business Writing
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2021, 02:54:59 PM »
The Palmer method for business writing lends to a straight holder, the same way the traditional method for Spencerian does. The question really isn’t about the holder that you use but rather about the pen – the nib if you want to be as specific as possible – that you use.

For business writing, as the name implies, a stiffer, stronger nib is needed.  One that will keep a uniform line throughout and without any of the unnecessary flexibility that would cause shades which have no place in traditional business writing.  The Leonardt 111EF nib is fantastic for a uniform line and it has a smooth motion to it when used correctly. It doesn’t have much flex to the tines but that is really what you want.