Author Topic: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner  (Read 7150 times)

Offline Erica McPhee

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The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« on: February 19, 2014, 07:32:51 PM »
Click on image to view on Amazon.

This wonderful gem can be had for under $7 US dollars. Published in 1987 (the year I graduated high school), Gordon Turner's book is light but very full of information, helpful, and humorous. His detailed instruction is penned in his beautiful style of copperplate. He gives a very thorough examination of the basic strokes with a good deal of illustrative examples.

There is only one detraction, in some of his examples the letters show a space between them, and not just the ligatures, but the actual letters. I believe this is to demonstrate the individual strokes, however, this is not clearly stated anywhere so I think it could be misleading and/or confusing to a beginner. But that is limited to two pages.

He made me laugh when he pleaded to call capital letters "anything but majuscules" as it was such an ugly word! He also referred to "three trouble areas that can doom your best efforts... They are, of course, pen, ink, and paper."  ;D

Although he didn't know it, Turner was an early visionary to modern calligraphy styles of today. He features many different styles of each capital letter:


He also mentions, "in formal script, deviations are not common, but in casual or personal script, the sky's the limit." I found it fascinating how much of what he wrote almost 25 years ago could very well apply to developing your own personal style today. After detailing several pages of "rules" he states, "How you handle these letters is up to you. It's a matter of your personal style."

And after a few more pages of rules, he says, "Now that you are familiar with the shapes of all the letters, you can begin to experiment for the fun of it!" But you can see from his examples, "your own style" in copperplate 25 years ago, was still very much copperplate!


Overall, it's a great, inexpensive manual for learning pointed pen.

[Pages used with permission from Dover Publications, Inc.]
« Last Edit: March 20, 2016, 11:53:52 AM by Erica McPhee »
Truly, Erica
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Offline Linda Y.

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2014, 07:45:15 PM »
This is the very first copperplate book I bought! :D My copy is probably from the early 90s. It's a great resource - and yes, all the text is written in copperplate!

Offline Roseann

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2014, 08:14:46 PM »
Erica!
We graduated the same year!!!!

I'm going to look into that book.
Thank you :)
Roseann

The world is so full of a number of things, Im sure we should all be as happy as kings.   R. L. Stevenson

Offline ratna_89

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2016, 12:35:20 AM »
hey guys I need help, thank you so much Erica for putting this book, Im actually in a dillema of which book to buy between this or the Dick Jackson's Copperplate calligraphy, is anyone here maybe have both, or tried or even stumble upon..

thank you so much

Nana
@lettersandmiles

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2016, 01:42:13 PM »
Hi Nana,
I have both in front of me. They are two very different styles of book. Turner's book has more exemplars and variations. Jackson's book has more detailed instruction. If you are looking to really analyze and break down each letter, I would say Jackson's book offers more information (although if you are into that, I would suggest Eleanor Winter's Mastering Copperplate book instead. Jackson's exemplars are not to my liking. Hope that helps!
Truly, Erica
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Offline Brad franklin

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2016, 08:35:19 PM »
Thanks Erica, I just ordered it. I really like the look of this book. Can't beat 7 bucks.

Offline ratna_89

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2016, 10:24:36 PM »
okay, thank you so much for the tips erica  ;D I'll look more closely to Eleanor..

Offline jeanwilson

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2016, 07:08:59 AM »
To anyone following this thread - if this is the only thread you see recommending books, you should also consider Script in the Copperplate Style by Joe Vitolo. It is a free download for iPads, but if you are PC you can read the entire book online - at the IAMPETH website. It includes videos.

Once you get to the IAMPETH website, there are a ton of books online. Sometimes students see a variation that is a little different that catches their eye.


Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2016, 07:09:26 AM »
Hi Nana,
I have both in front of me. They are two very different styles of book. Turner's book has more exemplars and variations. Jackson's book has more detailed instruction. If you are looking to really analyze and break down each letter, I would say Jackson's book offers more information (although if you are into that, I would suggest Eleanor Winter's Mastering Copperplate book instead. Jackson's exemplars are not to my liking. Hope that helps!

The Gordon Turner book contains misinformation and discrepancies which make it difficult to wholeheartedly recommend.

In the Foreword he says "Roundhand (or Copperplate) sometimes called Spencerian or Engraver's Script, or Formal Script, is the object of much interest among calligraphers......" This betrays a lack of basic understanding as these styles are quite different from each other.
 
Page 5 is devoted entirely to the construction of "The Straight Stroke"....and yet on page 37 he states that "Actually, in the finest examples of Roundhand, there's not an absolutely straight line to be found!" Not only is this a direct contradiction, it's plainly wrong.

He states that "Roundhand is definitely not handwriting." Here, we disagree. Whilst Copperplate majuscules are more drawn than written, the minuscules can be written like any other script - if a little slower.
 
The heading to page 15 "Alternate Forms of Capitals" shows poorly constructed flourishing.....not ideal in a book of instruction.

It's not all negative, however. With the exception of the covers, the book is entirely handwritten which is to be commended and he shows some interesting Majuscule variations (yes, I prefer to use the correct word!)
He does say in the Foreword that "this is the American version of the so-called Copperplate style", so its important not to view it in terms of English Roundhand.

To sum up, this is an interesting book; lively and clearly written with many examples. However, the above reservations make it far from an ideal instruction book for beginners, IMHO.

If I may be allowed a contradictory view to Erica's!  Jackson letterforms are closer to the original 18th century English Roundhand and as such are far more to my liking than the later derivatives which lack the grace and elegance of the originals. I would disagree with several minor points in Jackson's book, but the superior quality of the writing throughout make it the front-runner in my opinion.
I should state that I am self-taught using only Dick Jackson's book, and am therefore very biased!

I don't like Eleanor Winters letter forms as they deviate too much from the classic 18th century forms, to no good effect. IMHO.

Ken
« Last Edit: March 19, 2016, 07:04:00 PM by Ken Fraser »

Offline Brad franklin

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2016, 10:53:54 AM »
i received the book yesterday and read the whole thing. I have to say I enjoyed it myself. I can see where he compared engrossers and copperplate and Spencerian. I knew that he was off on that one, but I do like the styles in the book. Is it good for a beginner? no, but it's a nice book to have in my collection. It will be one of my favorite "copperplate" books. I have the usual books Shelia Waters book, Dr. V's ebook. The Zanerian manual (my fav.) and the Universal Penman.   

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: The Techniques of Copperplate Calligraphy by Gordon Turner
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2016, 11:52:02 AM »
Yes of course, Ken, you may express opinions contradictory to me or anyone else!  ;D Please do, as it helps others see varying view points. I like the book for beginners because it is very simple. It doesn't try to delve into the complex history of scripts and keeps things at a very basic level. For many beginners, this is all they want. If someone is a beginner who wants to learn all the details, historical significance, and is a serious student of the art, then no, this is not the book with which to start.

In regard to the generalization of the use of the word Copperplate for Roundhand, Engrossers, etc., this is true people do often call it that. Copperplate has become the term widely used to describe Roundhand, Engrossers, and Engraver's Script.

I agree about the Roundhand script being considered a form of handwriting. However, today, I would argue only calligraphers would consider it as such.

Regarding the Spencerian term used, I'm quite sure he is referring to the style Paul Shaw referred to as being coined by Tom Carnase describing a drawn script based upon a range of styles, but especially Roundhand (the 18th century English version). And not the Spencerian originated by Platt Rogers Spencer.

I know you are quite well versed in these distinctions, Ken, and so can appreciate your view in regard to this text.

Going forward, any comments regarding these distinctions should be done elsewhere, if not in relation to the book review. There are a multitude of threads on the topic which can be found by searching "Copperplate Spencerian."
Truly, Erica
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