Author Topic: Anyone ever hear of a Professor Wing teaching Spencerian in the 19th-century?  (Read 1969 times)

Offline AAAndrew

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So, I picked up a curious object from the 'Bay and I'm trying to do some research.

It's a broadside advertising Spencerian Penmanship classes by a Professor Wing who studied under P.R. Spencer.

It claims that he was at that time (approx 1868 or so) a faculty member of the Iron City Commercial College. Iron City Commercial College was originally founded in 1851 as Duff's Mercantile College, the fist commercial college in the US, and is still in business as Everest Institute's Pittsburgh campus.

There are numerous testimonials, including one from P.R. Spencer himself written in Geneva, Ohio.

Quote
Mr. Wing
Dear Student: - On your leaving the Geneva Writing Class, wherein you have labored diligently and ingeniously, securing an high degree of excellence, and mastering the theory of "The Art of Arts," permit me to say that I believe you will be in the path of duty, should you devote your time to instructing the youth of the country in the use of the pen. I am confident of your ability to do good, and bid you success therein.
P.R. Spencer
Author and Teacher of Spencerian or Semi-angular Penmanship

The broadside says that Professor Wing "visits this place during his leave of absence, and will remain four weeks only, during which time he will give private instruction in his Art and the Science of Accounts to all who may desire it. Having attended, some years ago the Lectures of Prof. P. R. Spencer, Sen., now decieased, whose works on Penmanship have long been before the public, together with an actual experience fo ten years as teacher enables him to guarantee entire satisfaction to every patron"

The poster is about 20.5" long and 7.25" wide. I will get it framed and preserved because it's so interesting. And my wife's from Pittsburgh, so I know where the building used to be, on the corner of Penn Ave. and St. Clair.

Here's an ad for Iron City Commercial College from 1863, and here's the photograph of the poster. I haven't gotten good photos of it yet, so this will have to do.

So, let me know if anyone has any info on Professor Wing. He may well have just been one of the thousands of undistinguished penmanship teachers at the time. It would be interesting to find out.

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https://thesteelpen.com/

Offline Erica McPhee

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So fascinating! I had to chuckle as my daughter's band teacher is Mr. Wing - and he's amazing. Thanks for sharing!
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline AAAndrew

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I had it framed and have started to learn more about Professor Wing. It seems he ran a school in Akron, Ohio for a while. In advertisements in 1867 he claims that he throws away textbooks in favor of the students actually learning directly (presumably by doing rather than memorizing).

The school was called both the "Academic, Commercial and Fine Art Institute" and then later in that year, the Morning Sun Institute.

It sounds like he was a bit eccentric in his notions. "The real and only high branches of an education, are Penmanship, Music, Drawing and Painting."   Of course, he also taught bookkeeping.

Prior to 1867 it seems he was a private tutor as several of his testimonials are from families who used him to teach their children, especially penmanship.

He seems like a fun topic and I look forward to learning more about this extraordinary man.

Meanwhile, here are some close-up images from the ad. I thought y'all would particularly appreciate the poem at the top. It's pure, 19th-century cheese!

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Offline AAAndrew

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His philosophy regarding textbooks
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Offline InkyFingers

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He sure sound like my Great-great-grandfather.  For him, he stressed education (penmanship being primary), martial art, music, and art.  This is the way to become a gentle/wo/man.

Thanks for sharing.

Offline matteherr

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I just found this topic and it is very awesome! AAAndrew, I went to college it Pittsburgh. I am redesigning my office-studio-place of writing and am looking for anything related to handwriting for wall decorations. Would you be able and interested to get a high-res copy of these images?

Offline AAAndrew

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I have my Masterís degree from Pitt. My wife grew up in the Southside (Baldwin/Whitehall area), and we were married in Heinz Chapel. So, loviní the ĎBurgh.

Itís framed on my office wall under glass. I can give it a shot but make no promises I can make it work. Iíll give it a shot next week if I can get good light.

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Offline KristinT

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@matteherr Thanks for reviving this thread!  Delightful.

@AAAndrew This is really a neat find - thank you for sharing it.  I'm quite taken with the poem.  It's unattributed here, do you suppose its source is Prof. Wing himself?  I'd be very curious as to how best to cite it as I'd like to share it.   :-\

Offline AAAndrew

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Itís almost certainly Prof. Wing. How to cite it is a puzzle worthy of the MLA, but if you figure something out, go for it.
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Offline matteherr

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AAANDREW, next time I'm in the ' burgh maybe we could meet up and talk steel pens. I went to Pitt. Technical Inst. on Smithfield downtown before they moved, but I commuted each day from an hour north. I also still love the 'burgh! Are you aware of any antique shops that may have old inkwells, pen holders, desks, ect. related to penmanship/calligraphy?

Offline AAAndrew

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I get back to the 'Burgh maybe once a year. My in-laws are gone and we now live in North Carolina, so don't get back very often. But I still get a hankering for a sammich and fries at The O, and every year for valentine's day I get my wife a big box of Sarris Chocolates shipped to us. Not cheap, but oh, so worth it. Who knew Canonsburg, PA would be home to the best boxed dark chocolates in the world? (and I have been on chocolate tours of NYC and Paris!?!)

Wish I could recommend someplace, but when I lived there I wasn't in to all of this crazy stuff, so don't know the antique stores. And so much keeps changing it's likely anything I knew back then is different. I just don't see this stuff in antique stores around us. It seems like it's all sold online anymore.

Check out my steel pen history blog
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