Author Topic: Copperplate, Engrossers - the differences  (Read 6122 times)

Offline Ken Fraser

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Copperplate, Engrossers - the differences
« on: September 04, 2014, 06:18:27 PM »
1) This script is from the engraved Copperplate 18th century writing of Willington Clark. At the time it was known as English Roundhand.

2) This is my handwritten interpretation of the same script. It was written left to right in the usual way with very few pen lifts and no paper or hand manipulation. I have amended the letter y as I feel that straighter strokes on the descenders look better that the original versions, which turn backwards to the left as can be seen in (1).

3) This is my version of Engrosser's Script which developed in America from English Roundhand. It is similar but at the same time, quite different. This is a drawn script with many pen lifts and paper manipulation. It is heavier in weight than Roundhand which makes for a slightly wider letter. Perhaps the most significant difference is the two-stroke 'n' and similar letters, where the hairline is deliberately placed separate from the preceding downstroke to avoid carrying ink upwards into the hairline.
It particularly skilful hands such as those of Dr Joe Vitolo, this 'sleight of hand' produces a virtually invisible link, but in general, it is obvious and IMHO looks odd and disjointed.
As I dislike this practice, in my version (3) I have left the strokes visibly separate, to make my point. Actually, this is typical of the majority of Engrosser's writings. I don't see the point in making the letter 'm' in three strokes when one would suffice.

In fact, as shown in (2) when these letters are written with no pen lifts, the resulting take-up of ink is so slight as to be inconsequential.

This is a very subjective view - please feel free to disagree and/or comment.

« Last Edit: September 05, 2014, 05:14:02 AM by Ken Fraser »

Offline Brad franklin

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Re: Copperplate, Engrossers - the differences
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2014, 08:20:50 PM »
Ken, I am just a silly American but I think all three lines are quite lovely.

Offline Cecilia

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Re: Copperplate, Engrossers - the differences
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2014, 12:30:02 AM »
It's early morning here and I just had one coffee {I apologize for any mistakes in English or misspelling or similar}, but, apart from the differences explained by Mr Fraser, what I see here is:


nr 1 and 2 have no entry strokes at a's and e's - where present, the entry stroke is shorter than in nr 3 {it doesn't seem to start at the base line if I see well}
nr 1 and 2 have no loop at l's
nr 1 and 2 have a smaller first arch at m's and n's {whereas penmen make a point of having all arches with the same width in Copperplate}
nr 1 and 2 have the straight stroke of the p shorter on the top than nr 3


All these features make nr 1 and 2 more a handwriting to me than nr 3, which I feel more like being drawn with specific intention.
One of the mistakes I've been making in my very early stage of Copperplate practice {that was yesterday, to be honest!} was to put the entry stroke only on certain letters, depending on how I was finishing the previous word. There was no intention by me, but that was the fact. Maybe because I tend to write without lifting my nib from the paper.


Is there any known reasons for these differences?
Different tools that lead to these differences or just different styles?


I find all three very beautiful, thank you for sharing this Mr Fraser.
Cecilia
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Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Copperplate, Engrossers - the differences
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2014, 06:19:55 AM »
nr 1 and 2 have no entry strokes at a's and e's - where present, the entry stroke is shorter than in nr 3 {it doesn't seem to start at the base line if I see well}
nr 1 and 2 have no loop at l's
nr 1 and 2 have a smaller first arch at m's and n's {whereas penmen make a point of having all arches with the same width in Copperplate}
nr 1 and 2 have the straight stroke of the p shorter on the top than nr 3

Is there any known reasons for these differences?
Different tools that lead to these differences or just different styles?


Firstly, I should say that I base all my Copperplate writing on the examples in The Universal Penman by George Bickham. This book is still in print and anyone interested in the script, shouldn't hesitate in getting a copy.

Where the rounded minuscule a c o e d g & q begin a word within text, there is no entry stroke. All other have a short entry stroke. I usually prefer an entry stroke from the baseline, but that's just my choice.

In The Universal Penman, 99% of ascenders are straight. There are a very few looped ones and this didn't become general practice until later. Both looped and straight versions can be used, even within the same text. In Engrosser's Script they are always looped.

The original 'n' and 'm' had smaller first arches. The use of same-width arches is a later manifestation and now seems to be the general rule. I prefer the earlier version which to my eye was more elegant.

In Engrosser's script the 'p' and 't' are longer. This may be due to the influence of Spencerian Script. Originally, they were shorter with the 't' crossed at the waist line.

There is one further difference between the drawn and written versions. The drawn versions (1) and (3) use secondary downstrokes on the loops of 'l' and 'e' for example, to produce little shades. Whist this is historically accurate, I prefer to keep the lettering flowing as handwriting, and omit these as shown in (2).

The same pen and nib is used for Roundhand and Engrosser's script.

Good questions - you are very observant.  :)

« Last Edit: September 05, 2014, 06:26:22 AM by Ken Fraser »

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Copperplate, Engrossers - the differences
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2014, 06:27:33 AM »
Ken, I am just a silly American but I think all three lines are quite lovely.
Thanks Brad!