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Messages - Vintage_BE

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Everyday Handwriting | Penmanship / “Likes”, 90 years ago
« on: April 08, 2024, 02:58:22 PM »
Here is another piece of French historical penmanship.  Before WW II, cycling was the most popular sport in France (and in many other European countries). The Tour de France was the crucial event of the year and any French rider who succeeded in winning the Tour become immortal during his life already. One such hero was Antonin Magne, who grew up in a modest farmers’ family in the Cantal region. He won the Tour twice (1932 and 1934) and also took the world champion’s title in 1936. His successes were, of course, extensively covered in newspapers and magazines. Naturally this was long before internet; his numerous fans could “like” him only by showing up at the races or by … writing to him.  In 1936, after his world title, the magazine l’Auto (owner of the Tour de France) called on its readers to send Magne a letter with congratulations (the magazine provided a text that could be copied). Enclosed is one of the letters that were received, this one came from a high school in Orange.  What penmanship. Could you imagine a high school producing such a letter today?

Everyday Handwriting | Penmanship / A brylcreem recipe
« on: April 06, 2024, 03:42:11 PM »
I pictured this in the municipal museum of Avignon, France. The museum  has collected (oral and written) stories of local people about life in their childhood - some of these stories go back to the 1920/1930s. The picture is of a recipe for hair styling gel (in European English often called “brylcreem”) which through the 1950s was a must have for any gentleman. I am impressed by the quality of the penmanship. The style reminds me of the handwriting of my grandmother (who was born in 1896).

Spencerian Script / Re: Victor Horta and Spencerian
« on: March 27, 2024, 03:23:06 AM »

This is a doorhandle that I photographed this weekend.  It’s part of the first house that he designed but even then his own style is apparent.

Spencerian Script / Victor Horta and Spencerian
« on: March 26, 2024, 03:59:57 PM »
Victor Horta was a Belgian architect and interior designer, one of the icons of the so-called “art nouveau” movement, see Horta lived from 1861 until 1947 and designed many houses and buildings, especially in Brussels, some of which have, rather miraculously, survived. I visited one of these houses last week-end and once again noticed how his “sinuous lines and flowing organic shapes” were inspired by plant forms ( Indeed Horta was fascinated by the stems of plants and the way they grow upwards seemingly ‘extending into infinity' (here is a link to a site with a few more pictures:
And then… I remembered reading about Father Spencer (a generation older than Horta, but his script enjoyed fame during Horta’s lifetime) taking inspiration from nature forms in designing his script ( and  Horta’s most productive period as an architect was between 1892 and the Second World War, i.e. during a period when Spencerian (including its ornamental version) enjoyed widespread fame, although that was primarily the case in the U.S.  I can’t help but think that, had Horta seen Spencerian calligraphy, he would have said that it represented the handwritten version of his drawings.

Spencerian Script / Re: Succession of m’s and n’s and of u’s
« on: March 12, 2024, 04:57:43 PM »
@Zivio onwards, only practice will set us free.

Spencerian Script / Re: Succession of m’s and n’s and of u’s
« on: February 28, 2024, 10:15:08 AM »
I made another jar of walnut ink with the crystals and now am able to put down finer lines. 
So off to work, writing words with m/n/e combinations.

Everyday Handwriting | Penmanship / Eric Clapton to Layla
« on: February 28, 2024, 01:49:56 AM »
Pattie Boyd apparently is auctioning off a number of love letters that she received from Eric Clapton. Whether this is good taste or not would seem to be a debate beyond the scope of this Forum. However, I was struck by the consistency and elegance of Mr Clapton’s handwriting (which I had not seen before).  Were these letters actually written without guidelines?

Spencerian Script / Re: Succession of m’s and n’s and of u’s
« on: February 25, 2024, 12:10:26 PM »
@BrightStar I am writing with a Zebra G nib but I have a bit of trouble with the ink (from walnut crystals, with a bit of gum Arabic). You are right, the hairlines should be quite a bit finer; I do manage to produce fine(r) hairlines when I write with white gouache ink on watercolor paper.

Spencerian Script / Re: Succession of m’s and n’s and of u’s
« on: February 25, 2024, 07:35:36 AM »
@ericamcphee A huge thank you for all of your replies. It has been said many times before, but it cannot be repeated enough: you are the exponent of an exceptionally generous and friendly community.

And your analysis is spot on. If I improve the upstrokes in the “humps” of the m’s and the n’s by starting them immediately at the baseline and by curving them, the separation with the next letter becomes clearly visible.

Now, in my defence, I will invoke two attenuating circumstances.

First, I blindly relied on the exemplar of father Spencer (see enclosed zooms), in which the upstrokes have almost no left curve. I should of course have consulted more than one source. Lesson learned. I could not find immediately the Barnes from which you shared screenshots book but I did retrieve the exemplar that forum member @jordantruster posted on the web and, yes, her upstrokes are beautifully leftward curved as well.

Second, when I stared at Spencerian exemplars, the “m” always looked as if it is composed of three exactly identical humps (two in the case of the “n”). Thanks to your posts I now realise that I neglected to take the exit stroke into account. I assumed that, where two m’s or n’s are written after one another, the exit stroke “merges” into the first “hump” of the following letter. Instead, the tiny curve at the baseline which starts the exit stroke results in  the connector stroke being a bit wider (1.25 spaces instead of 1).

Now, what I find hellishly difficult where an “m” is followed by an “m” or “n” (or another letter that starts with an upward left curve) is to start at the baseline with the tiny curve (which is oriented towards the right) and then, whilst moving upward, transform the upstroke into a left curve. In the Barnes exemplars that you posted, the connector stroke does not curve towards the left until just before it hits the top of the baseline and goes down at the 52 degree angle. As a result, the first “hump” of the m looks different, depending on whether the m is written first, or following another m or n.
If the connector stroke acquires a left curve too soon, that has the effect of making the space between two letters too small. That’s why I have much difficulty with e-m or e-n letter combinations, such as “tenement” or “Eminem”.

Enough of this nerdy ramble, I now understand what needs to be done in order to improve. Thanks again!

Spencerian Script / Re: Succession of m’s and n’s and of u’s
« on: February 22, 2024, 04:46:56 PM »
Thanks much @Erica McPhee , and should your source also explain whether the connector stroke in terms of angle differs from the “humps”, I’d be interested in the details 🤓!

Spencerian Script / Re: Succession of m’s and n’s and of u’s
« on: February 21, 2024, 12:50:31 PM »
@Zivio Thanks much. I had seen that video (and a few others). But it does not solve my problem.
When you write another m after the first m, the “right curve” (the exit stroke) at the end of the first m needs to be converted in to a “compound” curve (since the exit stroke morphs into what is the “left curve” that forms the first portion of the following m).
Such a compound curve closely resembles the two following “left curves”. That is what makes it difficult to “see” two distinct “m’s”, rather than six “left curves” written in parallel, and that is why I adjust the angle of the second and the third “left curve”, so as to make the space between the two m’s appear larger.
But, again, I may be missing something.

Tools & Supplies / Oblique pen holders for EU residents
« on: February 21, 2024, 11:46:43 AM »
Until recently, I was convinced that the writing experience was a function of (the combination of) paper, ink, and nib. In other words, the penholder was not relevant — to be sure, it’s pleasant, and perhaps motivating, to pick up a beautiful penholder, but I was convinced that the basic plastic/black holder wrote just as well as any of its more expensive colleagues.
I gradually realised that, when using nibs that are somewhat stiff (such as the Zebra or the Nikko G, as compared to nibs such as the Lenny Principal, Hunt 101, or the Gillott 303), it does make a difference to use a penholder that is a bit more rigid than the basic plastic version.
Now, as I’m sure you know, basic plastic holders are quite cheap (they can be bought from EU websites at less than 5 EUR), and (but) more sophisticated holders are significantly more expensive (wooden holders start from approx. EUR 15 and go all the way up to EUR 100 or above).
Since most of the nicer oblique holders are offered by non-EU vendors, they need to be “imported” into our Union… which recently decided to “crack down” on supposedly false custom declarations (a USD 100 item being declared as having a value of USD 5, etc.). So, at present, all items coming into the Union are subject to customs duties. And to VAT (20% or ore, unless sold by a webshop that pre registered within the EU and pays the VAT itself). And to… customs clearance charges. For example, in Belgium, the postal operator charges the equivalent of USD 20 for “clearing” your parcel (i.e. for charging you customs duties and VAT on that parcel). In short, ordering from non-EU suppliers is often unattractive for EU residents.
That’s why I thought that I would signal my discovery of a European vendor of a oblique penholder that (based on my experience) writes significantly better than the basic plastic model… and is sold at a quite reasonable EUR 7 (approx. USD 7.5 at current exchange rates).
What I like about this penholder is that it is significantly more rigid than it’s plastic colleague, that it has a bit more girth (resulting in a better grip, at least for me), while being *very* light - the weight difference with the plastic holder is almost imperceptible, at least for me.
The item is sold by lecalligraphe(dot)com, a French webshop. 
I have enclosed a few pictures. In the picture with the five holders, the le calligraphe item is the second one from the left.
To be clear, I have no affiliation with this vendor whatsoever, I’m merely an impressed customer.

Spencerian Script / Succession of m’s and n’s and of u’s
« on: February 21, 2024, 11:11:49 AM »
I apologise if this question has been brought up before on the forum (I did a few searches but was not able to find anything relevant).

One of the Spencerian rules is that connecting strokes are written at a 30 degree angle, i.e. significantly less steep than the standard 52 degree angle that is used for downstrokes.

My question relates to the angle of the upstrokes in characters such as m, n and u.  I had understood (perhaps wrongly) that these strokes also have a 30 degree angle.

Now, m, n and u contain more than one upstroke.  If these upstrokes are written at the 30 degree angle, it becomes hard to distinguish two successive m’s (as in “immediate”) or a succession of an m and and n (as in “penman”), or a succession of u’s (as in “continuum”).

I try to fix this by writing the first upstroke at a 30 degree angle, and the following upstroke(s) at an angle that is a bit steeper.  That results in the connecting stroke taking a bit more space then the space between the upstrokes within the letter.  See the enclosed sample of “penman”.

In the enclosed sample of “continuum” I wrote all upstrokes of the two successive u’s at the same angle, which results in the connecting stroke to have the same with as the letter u — making (at least in my neophyte eye) the succession of the two u’s less easy to read.

Are there other/better solutions? Or am I just wrong as to the angle to use for the second/third upstroke?

Most European countries (including in any event Belgium) teach handwriting from the age of 6.
What has changed between the time that I went to grade school (the ‘60s) and the years that my children went to grade school (between 2004 and 2012) is that in the ‘60s, “handwriting” (or “schoonschrift” which translates into something like ‘penmanship’) was a required subject until the 5th grade (age 11). Nowadays, kids are being taught how to write in the first grade, but if I remember correctly ‘handwriting’ is not a separate subject anymore as from second or third grade. The result: kids develop, let’s say, “a personal style” early on; that style is tolerated as long as their handwriting is somewhat legible.
Our youngest (born on 30 December) started grade school months before he reached the age of 6; his “fine motoric skills” were underdeveloped, and it shows until today in his handwriting - he’s 23 and his handwriting looks, well, not great.
My wife teaches courses that require students to take (hand)written examinatons. Each year I am enlisted by her to help decipher some of the hieroglyphs that are being handed in. Even if we know (or strongly suspect) what the student intended to write, we regularly are unable to translate the scratches into any potentially intelligible word. Sigh.

Show & Tell / Re: Verve …
« on: January 04, 2024, 05:11:53 PM »
I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again: you are a man of many talents.  Simply do it and write, your penmanship is very much worth of sharing. Bravo.

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