Author Topic: Spencerian Variety  (Read 2979 times)

Offline andyj

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Spencerian Variety
« on: December 19, 2015, 01:45:44 AM »
Has their ever been a topic. . . well, I searched "Spencerian variety" and had some interesting results. . . on exactly how many (if any) varieties of Spencerian writing exist?  I may be ruthlessly abusing my newbieness but I'm sort of gathering there are at least this many variations:

1) The Spencerian that I think my great-grandparents wrote (circa turn of the century (uh, yeah, the other century))
2) Business Spencerian
3) Shaded Spencerian

I'm a bit of a genealogist - or used to be.  So I've ran into a lot of #1 (at least that's what I always thought it was).  When I started reading this forum I actually learned about #2 and #3.

Is this break down close or am I way off?  Not to overstate the obvious, but I'd never even heard of "shading" and pointed pen, though it is very intriguing and I think someday I will embark on a Spencerian journey.
Andy

Offline AndyT

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Re: Spencerian Variety
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2015, 05:21:32 AM »
That's an interesting topic for discussion.  I expect any paleographer worth their salt would be able to find at least a dozen distinct variations, but it seems to me that these are the obvious ones:

1) The writing of Platt Rogers Spencer, which is the least Spencerian looking to modern eyes.
2) First Compendium style, with rather conservative copperplate-derived capitals.
3) New Compendium style, with some of the lower case eccentricities ironed out, and characterised in particular by the direct oval I and J.  This being what most informed people think of, probably.
4) Early business writing, before Palmer put his name to it and placed the emphasis squarely on speed rather than aesthetics.  Essentially monoline Spencerian with some simplifications.
5) Ornamental Penmanship, a catch all name for the "dashy" writing, based on Spencerian, which was the preserve of highly competitive professional penmen.

That's without touching on the writing of people not in the trade, but since I'm in the UK my access to and familiarity with that sort of material is very limited.  OP in particular comes in many flavours, and there's a huge difference between the restrained approach of someone like Henry Behrensmeyer, for instance, and the flamboyance of Francis Courtney or Louis Madarasz.  It's quite unhelpful, actually, because many people seem to hear "Spencerian" and think Madarasz, but that sort of artistic work is really on the fringes and at quite a remove from the practical script developed by the Spencers.

Offline andyj

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Re: Spencerian Variety
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2015, 09:17:13 PM »
Ok, great, that gives me some good variety "names" to go with.  So when we see Victorian era (say late 1800s, early 1900s) everyday writing in journals and ledgers, would that be pretty much from the school of Platt Rogers Spencer?
Andy

Offline AndyT

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Re: Spencerian Variety
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2015, 04:17:40 AM »
Yes and no!  Platt Rogers is revered as "Father" Spencer, and quite rightly so since he set the tone for the development of American handwriting, but it was his children who fine-tuned and aggressively promoted his ideas and did most to get the family style widely taught in schools.  PR Spencer's handwriting certainly has a Spencerian character as we understand it now and many of the key elements were in place, but the "feel" if you like is rather different from the kind of Spencerian learned by most people.  Attached are samples of his own writing, and a representative extract from the New Spencerian Compendium.  The most obvious differences are the greater angularity, horizontal emphasis and general sharpness of the latter.  As far as I know PR Spencer never abandoned the quill, which lends its own character; you'll also notice that long "s" - a sure sign of an old timer.  :)

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Spencerian Variety
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2015, 05:21:58 PM »
Very interesting, Andy!

I haven't really looked int Spencerian very much, but I have read a bit about Platt Rogers Spencer's inspiration from nature, etc... And frankly, I've not see much of that in the Spencerian I've seen, BUT, in his writing, do see that ebb and flow, curve and swoop I would have expected. I really like his writing better than the business writing it became.

Thanks! I'm enjoying his letter. Now I want to see more of his.

Andrew
Check out my steel pen history blog
https://thesteelpen.com/

Offline AndyT

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Re: Spencerian Variety
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2015, 06:20:07 PM »
Chris Yoke has some of his letters, and posted pictures here if I remember correctly.  It'll be going back a while, though.