Author Topic: Spencerian resources  (Read 2311 times)

Offline SJWD

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Spencerian resources
« on: October 18, 2016, 07:40:35 AM »
Hi,
I have been practicing copperplate and wanted to move to Spencerian.  There are a few resources and I was not sure which is best.  Any suggestions?

Offline AndyT

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Re: Spencerian resources
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2016, 12:49:23 PM »
Hello SJWD.  :)

I'm on the fundamentalist wing of the Spencerian faction, and believe if you're going to learn Spencerian you should learn it from a Spencer.  Which book you choose is up to you, but there are differences between them so it's perhaps best to stick to one.  The New Spencerian Compendium is a popular choice because it's particularly comprehensive and includes a wide variety of capital variations.

A couple of honorable mentions for other authors: The Payson, Dunton and Scribner Manual of Penmanship is very good (especially the text), and P Z Bloser's Lessons In Ornamental Penmanship is uniquely useful in that it graphically demonstrates how the letters are built up - much easier to follow than the "Begin on the base line and ascend with a left curve one space, and two and one-half spaces to the right ..." approach.  Ornamental Penmanship is not Spencerian, but at least as far as the lower case goes the Bloser book will be helpful.

If you're coming from copperplate the things to bear constantly in mind are that the curves tend to be shallower, the turns tighter and the shades much less frequent.  You need to get into a semi-angular frame of mind. ;)

Offline SJWD

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Re: Spencerian resources
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2016, 04:47:19 PM »
@AndyT thank you so much.  I started reading it already and I am in love.  I am wondering if you suggest starting this with a fountain pen or with my oblique holder and nibs?  Or maybe I purchase a straight holder and give that a shot (I haven't ever worked with one)?

Thank you thank you thank you again as this is already so captivating!
« Last Edit: October 18, 2016, 04:49:00 PM by SJWD »

Offline AndyT

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Re: Spencerian resources
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2016, 06:30:46 PM »
Glad you found it helpful.

That's rather an interesting question, and the answer really depends on your aspirations.  Spencerian, after all, is in essence a business style and intended for everyday use and to be written at considerable speed.  So, if your aim is a handwriting upgrade it might make sense to stick with a fountain pen, if that's what you habitually write with.  You have your copperplate as an alternative for more formal use.

On the other hand, a classic Spencerian hand with fine hairlines and precise shades really requires a dip nib, because even the best vintage fountain pens fall a fair way short of a sharp steel pen dipped in good ink.  The oblique holder, as I'm sure you're aware, is merely a solution to the practical problem of bringing the nib into line with the main slant without turning the paper at too steep an angle away from you.  It's not absolutely essential (although it's closely associated with Ornamental Penmanship - a topic for another day, methinks), but most right handed people will probably find it more convenient than a straight pen once they get over the initial strangeness.  I do know one person who writes slanted pointed pen scripts beautifully using the cheapest thing which can legally be sold as a straight pen holder, but pretty much everybody else has a liking for wooden obliques with malleable brass flanges which can be bent to suit different nibs.

Historically Spencerian started out as a quill-written script, but although Platt Rogers Spencer was an old timer who never took to the steel pen, his children did, and it was that generation which produced the textbooks which are now considered to define the style.  In all but the earliest manuals and handbooks the illustrations and text refer to steel nibs held in straight holders, but the oblique holder (which appeared on the scene rather later) does save on a crick in the neck.  There are some fine points concerning how to set up an oblique holder for best results which are well worth knowing: they are covered exceedingly well by Dr Joe Vitolo in this article.  These adjustments are more relevant to Spencerian and OP than to copperplate, incidentally - bending the flange for a low nib-to-paper angle may not be such a good idea if you intend to use the same holder for copperplate.