The following is a guest post by educator and typographer Dr. Shelley Gruendler.
George Bickham (1684–1758) published one of the best-known English writing manuals, The Universal Penman, in 1741. His aim was to ease the learning process of formal calligraphic writing with a pointed pen, used primarily for business correspondence. The letterforms were flowing and open and accentuated the thicks and thins, with emphasis on entry and exit strokes, particularly for the capital letters. The business writer and the casual correspondent soon adopted the style that is now known as English Roundhand.
For years both before and after George Bickham’s life, one’s handwriting symbolized intellect and stature in society. Both the rich and poor at the time aimed for appealing and elegant handwriting and, with the proliferation of handwriting manuals of which Bickham’s was one of the most popular, many were able to achieve it.
Considering that these letterforms are nearly 350 years old, it doesn’t mean that they are dusty and dated. Scripts still have purpose and are far from obsolete. In fact, they are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, perhaps as a reaction to the abundance of computer typeset forms. We’re in the middle of an Arts and Crafts revival, and applications of older typefaces and letterforms are now at the forefront. Continue reading…