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Elegant Hand: The Golden Age of American Penmanship and Calligraphy [Hardcover]

William E. Henning , Paul Melzer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Library Journal

The period from 1850 to 1925 saw a flowering of American penmanship. In addition to itinerant writing masters, there were hundreds of private business schools, all of which taught penmanship (before the typewriter was invented). Periodicals such as The Western Penman were devoted to the subject, and expert calligraphers produced textbooks and copybooks for students. Even today, books on Spencerian calligraphy and on the Palmer method are being published (e.g., Michael Sull's Spencerian Script and Ornamental Penmanship). The present work details this period in history, devoting a chapter to each of seven experts (including Spencer and Palmer) and mentioning the work of 40 others. The text conveys the author's enthusiasm for the subject; Henning's father was himself once an editor of The American Penman and is one of the book's main subjects. Published posthumously (Henning died in 1996), this book was edited by rare book dealer and autograph collector Paul Melzer. The text is very readable, and the more than 450 illustrations are well chosen. Complementing Tamara Plakins Thornton's Handwriting in America: A Cultural History, this work is excellent for collections on the letter arts or on the history of education in America. Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Skilled Lettering examples/superb historical detail Sept. 24 2002
Format:Hardcover
An amazing book full of superior examples of penmanship, fine mark making through to highly skilled illustrative works. If you are not a reader who likes wading through text, the examples themselves stand alone for their sheer beauty and skill - excellent as exemplars to improve your own lettering works, or just to open your eyes to the broad variety of styles, skills and individuality of the best known penman of the era. I study the examples regularly and recommend this book to my own students as an excellent reference work.
While the graphics inspire and educate on the quality one desires to achieve, the well constructed text in the book transports us back to an era when lettering was a part of everyday life - where schools in penmanship taught learners in a rigorous and hectic schedule with drills and practice and more practice - lives so dedicated to their artform that we can only imagine what it was like today.
This book will delightfully inform and educate you about this wonderful time in American calligraphy through the carefully woven stories of the lives of these Master Penman. It fills a gap with information and samples that had previously only been available to those who spend a lifetime studying the history of penmanship.
A book to be in every calligraphers and historians library (and even those who just love a delightful read out of interest) and well worth the cost - even with the poor exchange rate in Australia! Don't miss it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A unique gem on historical American Calligraphy Sept. 24 2002
Format:Hardcover
As someone who takes both the art and history of American calligraphy very serious I was speechless when I first saw this book! In fact, the importance of this book in helping to document a portion of the rich, but almost forgotten, calligraphic heritage of the United States cannot be overstated. 'An Elegant Hand' represents this history from the perspective of one of the great Master Penman of the past, WC Henning. Henning was intimately involved with masters such Louis Madarasz, AN Palmer, WE Dennis and FB Courtney. All of whom are represented in the book as well as many others. The book is a delightful read and very accessible to even the novice calligrapher/pen art enthusiast. Furthermore, it is literally jam packed with art containing specimen after specimen from past masters that will serve as a source of study for calligraphers of any level. I consider it a MUST HAVE for anyone interested in calligraphy.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skilled Lettering examples/superb historical detail Sept. 24 2002
By Janine Mitchell/Calligrapher & Lettering Artist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
An amazing book full of superior examples of penmanship, fine mark making through to highly skilled illustrative works. If you are not a reader who likes wading through text, the examples themselves stand alone for their sheer beauty and skill - excellent as exemplars to improve your own lettering works, or just to open your eyes to the broad variety of styles, skills and individuality of the best known penman of the era. I study the examples regularly and recommend this book to my own students as an excellent reference work.
While the graphics inspire and educate on the quality one desires to achieve, the well constructed text in the book transports us back to an era when lettering was a part of everyday life - where schools in penmanship taught learners in a rigorous and hectic schedule with drills and practice and more practice - lives so dedicated to their artform that we can only imagine what it was like today.
This book will delightfully inform and educate you about this wonderful time in American calligraphy through the carefully woven stories of the lives of these Master Penman. It fills a gap with information and samples that had previously only been available to those who spend a lifetime studying the history of penmanship.
A book to be in every calligraphers and historians library (and even those who just love a delightful read out of interest) and well worth the cost - even with the poor exchange rate in Australia! Don't miss it!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique gem on historical American Calligraphy Sept. 24 2002
By Dr. Joseph Vitolo, Pen Artist and Webmaster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As someone who takes both the art and history of American calligraphy very serious I was speechless when I first saw this book! In fact, the importance of this book in helping to document a portion of the rich, but almost forgotten, calligraphic heritage of the United States cannot be overstated. `An Elegant Hand' represents this history from the perspective of one of the great Master Penman of the past, WC Henning. Henning was intimately involved with masters such Louis Madarasz, AN Palmer, WE Dennis and FB Courtney. All of whom are represented in the book as well as many others. The book is a delightful read and very accessible to even the novice calligrapher/pen art enthusiast. Furthermore, it is literally jam packed with art containing specimen after specimen from past masters that will serve as a source of study for calligraphers of any level. I consider it a MUST HAVE for anyone interested in calligraphy.
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