Author Topic: Very early steel pen writing  (Read 1364 times)

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2019, 05:12:43 PM »
Very interesting! (and thanks for the link).

Based on the diagram from Paillison (second diagram down with three types of cuts), it looks like a good replacement for the quill, at least for D and E would be an Esterbrook 314 and 312 respectively.

The 314 is slightly oblique, the 312 has almost none. Neither is very flexible, though the 312 has a tiny bit, and both are quite smooth to write with. The 314 is a medium tip, while the 312 is a fine.

I'll have to check out more of your site. Looks interesting.
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Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2019, 05:42:15 PM »
@sybillevz  Would you consider what Peregrine Williamson wrote, a form of Round Hand? Maybe a form of Running Hand? I'm still quite fuzzy on the various types and styles, and what distinguishes Round Hand from other similar styles, though I'm learning about them on your site.
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Offline sybillevz

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2019, 03:34:02 AM »
Thanks for the nib references @AAAndrew ! I'll have to try and find some of these nibs to try them out.
The French manufactured an oblique broad nib specifically for their Ronde (but it is very broad), I have some from Blanzy here, but I have no idea when such nibs were first manufactured. I should try and find that out, given that the French kept using the Ronde for official documents even after the English styles were popularized for regular handwriting, they probably started making such nibs earlier than in the US...

As for Williamson's style, I'd say it is very similar to the running hand that can be seen in Carstair's books (see here). Carstairs didn't invent the style, James Henry Lewis claimed that it was his invention... but it's hard to be sure about such things. This more angular version of the running hand is only a natural evolution of the script towards a faster hand. As Williamson's letter dates from 1808 and was written in the US, I'd be tempted to say that the writing style is just personalized running hand, maybe learned from John Jenkins' books or just imported British copybooks from the late 18th century (similar to what can be seen there : https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=gri.ark:/13960/t70w15w37;view=1up;seq=33. )

You can recognize the running hand by its long loops on ascenders and descenders (they are longer than the usual proportions) and flowing occasional flourishes (kept very simple) that don't interrupt the flow of the text, but participate in making the hand look more "fluent".  The hand was typically used for correspondence (when you see an example of a letter in an 18th century copybook, it is likeky to be written in running hand or Italian hand).

The Italian hand was also used for correspondance (regular handwriting stuff), and it's not always easy to see the difference (mainly the shape of capitals is different, and it is less shaded). It was a ladie's hand more than a gentleman's. I'm not sure I have seen examples of it "in the wild" yet...

Offline RD5

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 02:50:46 AM »
I don't understand what you mean by drawing instead of writing letters. I think of drawn letters as bubble letters or lombardic capitals, not some sort of round hand.

Offline sybillevz

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2019, 04:51:06 AM »
Some calligraphy styles are not actual writing styles : in my opinion, when a letter can not be written in one continuous movement and lead into the next letter, it cannot fully be considered (hand)writing. Even though you are using a writing tool, the fact that you need to build each letter (as if you were drawing it) makes the style rather inefficient as a writing style, but it can be a beautiful ornamental style.
Originally, the Round hand was meant to be written in a continuous movement, but the tool we use today makes it impossible to get the same shapes as model shapes if we don't build letters from several separate strokes. When you write an "a" you first make the oval, lift the pen, then make the final downstroke. Lifting the pen allows you to position the nib where it needs to be and to get the squared top. The letter you get looks good, but it took more time to write than a regular handwritten a.
Engrosser's script demands even more pen lifts than regular round hand... I consider that it is drawn and not written.
Calligraphy today is very different from handwiting, in the same way that hand lettering is different from calligraphy...
Does that make sense ?

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2019, 07:37:36 AM »
Check out my steel pen history blog
https://thesteelpen.com/

Offline rubyrose5757

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2019, 12:21:40 PM »
New to this site, and new to calligraphy ... but not new to doing research, which I love.  So, THANK YOU for this fascinating history, for following your passion, and for sharing it with us all.  R-e-a-l-l-y- interesting, and it makes me want to learn more!

Offline RD5

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2019, 08:25:07 AM »
Now I understand what you're saying, although I think that it is a pretty high standard, that would exclude not only most calligraphy, but also most writing styles, as being classified as writing.

Offline Moose

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2019, 02:28:42 AM »
Now I understand what you're saying, although I think that it is a pretty high standard, that would exclude not only most calligraphy, but also most writing styles, as being classified as writing.

Not at all. It isn't just the pen lifts, but also the speed at which it can be written efficiently.

Consider a writing style one that is straight forward and efficient. For example the block lettering taught engineers, or the script taught to  Navy radiomen taking morse over the radio -- all capital letters, angular, and definitely not a flowing cursive style. You do lift the pen at times, but it is fast, efficient, and makes for a legible hand even at high speed. Architectural script is not connected, but it is all monoline and efficient.   This is a writing style, not a calligraphy style that's purely ornamental.

How about Spencerian? Lots of that is meant as a practical hand, the ornamental offshoots of the basic style being concentrated on motions that are almost natural movements of the pen -- like the bottom of a P or the swell on the lower half of a capital stem that all come with just increased pressure on a downstroke -- but the lower cased alphabet can be written entirely monoline and at a good speed and still be recognizable as Spencerian. This is the basis of my daily hand, in fact.

Maybe look at it from a different angle. The point isn't JUST the pen lifts, it's the speed and formation of letters. A script you can make taking notes or writing a letter to a friend, where you're thinking about what you are going to say as opposed to the letters themselves, is more normal writing. When lower cased letters require slow, careful drawing of each stroke in a complex fashion, then you are on the other side of the line. I cannot do engrosser's script as a monoline at a reasonable speed, like regular handwriting, and still recognize it as engrosser's script.

I think that's what's meant, at least.

Offline RD5

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2019, 05:07:06 PM »
What you are talking about is more everyday handwriting as opposed to calligraphy. Roman cursive (which is not connected nor slanted) was the earliest western script that was a less formal but faster and used for business and government use. Pretty much every script that came out inspired a faster version, which in turn inspired an ornamental ones. In this case, the term running hand or cursive is used to indicate a relatively faster hand.

However, I find the term drawing for a slower carefully written hand misleading, because sometimes letters are drawn as in faux calligraphy or by typographers.

Offline sybillevz

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Re: Very early steel pen writing
« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2019, 01:21:44 PM »
I understand what you mean...
But for most historians of calligraphy (meaning people who wrote books on the history of calligraphy) there is a clear line between "handwriting" and "calligraphy".  In many cases, only "book hands" (formal hands seen in books) are considered proper calligraphy. Faster cursive hands (including the medieval and antique versions of running hands) are not considered "calligraphy" hands.
These people classified all the hands that came up after the Chancery in the "handwriting" category becaus they served as models for everyday (efficient) writing styles. The RH was put in that category too. Engrosser's script is often considered a grotesque attempt at creating a "bookish" round hand.
But in my opinion, this kind of thinking is no more pertinent for today's calligraphy. Even though the RH shapes still serve as a model for everyday handwriting (in many countries), the formal "calligraphic" ductus that includes many pen-lifts makes it impossible to use as an efficient everyday hand.  So there is a difference between formal "copperplate", which is penned much slower, and handwriting. I consider that Engrosser's is "drawn" because every stroke has to be thought and executed with caution... much more so than RH. Of course hand lettering is even more in the "drawn" category...
Spencerian is more of a handwriting style, whereas Ornamental Penmanship is more of a "calligraphy" style because of the "ornamental" and "planned" aspect of the hand.
Well, that's just my opinion.