Extract from the book by John C Tarr – 1952
“La belle écriture demande un esprit gai pour son exécution”* and it is this approach that the author would ask from the reader.
Quite apart from the enhancement of courtesy to one’s correspondents and the pleasure which an agreeable script gives to the recipient , there is also the added joyment of an accomplishment that is, after all, the basis of literacy.
The pace of modern life demands of a script that it be easy to execute with the least effort compatible with clarity and (to avoid too aesthetic a word) agreeableness. Thus it should be fast enough, clear enough and made well enough for the purpose for which it was written – and it need be no more”.
Penmanship is the technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. The various generic and formal historical styles of writing are called ‘hands’, whilst an individual personal style of penmanship is referred to as ‘handwriting’.
I know I have written posts about this subject before and after receiving a hand written letter today a friend in Wales that was unreadable I thought it time to bring up the subject again. I’m now in the embarrassing position of writing back and asking him what on earth the letter was about!
The object of this post is to try and get people back to handwriting. The only way to get through to them is to use the very medium that they use – the internet.
Handwriting is becoming a lost art, a loss most keenly felt by those of us who have to decipher the bad handwriting of relatives and friends.
Might handwriting be a lost art? With so much time spent on-line a handwritten letter is now a museum piece. We still practise our best writing in greeting cards, and if anyone still has a milkman I presume communication remains by scribbled note (or do you text the milky now? 2ptspls) but handwriting at length, to be read by others, seems now to be confined to schools, and most of that is virtually unreadable. The kids in school use mini-recorders to take notes, texting to communicate with family and friends, laptop-tops and ipads to write out their homework.
One comment I saw on a website selling vintage pens said “Fountain pens? Aren’t they the ones you have to keep dipping into a bottle of ink? How quaint.” She probably doesn’t even know how to hold a pen. (Pointy end towards the paper, ducky) Practically nobody handwrites letters any more, everything seems to be emails. In a few short years the fountain pen will just be a museum piece lying alongside quill pens and wax tablets. Osmiriod, the main fountain pen manufacturer next to Parkers went out of business recently because the sale of fountain pens, and indeed ballpoint pens, are dropping off at an alarming rate.
*Roughly translated – “Beautiful writing requires a happy mind to execute it”.
Watch this video to the very end. Don’t think to yourself “Oh, I could never do that!” and skip it. You can do it, I have taught a lot of people to change the way they write, even when their hand is unintelligible.
Get yourself a fountain pen the same as the one in the video. Mine is a Lamy Safari with a 1.1mm nib, obtainable from The Online Pen Company, price, a mere £13.95 and worth every penny! I know, I use one for my everyday writing and it never fails to start every time it touches the paper. I have dozens of pens of every make and size and I can truthfully say that the Lamy Safari is the best pen I have ever owned.
Note: Nick uses a Lamy AL-Star with 1.5mm nib, with Lamy Blue-black ink in the video, but I find that 1.5mm is too large for everyday use, but if you think it would suit you then buy it, The Lamy Al-Star is more or less the same as the Safari, but costs £7 more, and doesn’t look as nice!
One thing is for sure, they with never get a robot to master calligraphy like a real live person!