|Alfred Stevens, The Letter|
Periodically, an inquiry pops up on social media about whether or not children ought to be taught cursive handwriting. Some say it’s no longer necessary. Others worry that our letters and journals will become the equivalent of Egyptian hieroglyphs, which were a complete mystery for about 1400 years. We’re still not positive about how to pronounce the ancient Egyptian words, since the hieroglyphs don’t bother with vowels.
But the Is Cursive Really Necessary? contingent maintain that there will always be experts who can translate our funny little marks on paper, just as there are experts today who can translate the numerous scripts of centuries past, like this letter written in English Chancery Hand.
|Who Can Learn to Write|
In other words, our diaries and such will make perfect sense to a small group of nerdy history writing scholars in the centuries ahead.
For now, though, a great many of us are still writing and reading cursive. Some of us ancient ones remember being taught the “Palmer Method” in elementary school. While reading Ann Trubeck’s The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, I learned that the Palmer method was a simplification of a very beautiful style that was popular from about 1850 to the 1920s, and used for one of the most famous logos on earth, Coca-Cola®.
It’s called Spencerian script, and it was developed by Platt Rogers Spencer, who thought that our writing should be inspired by the forms in nature. The forms of his letters truly are beautiful. The words are easy to read. But it’s no easy feat to get good at it. If you’re interested, though, you can read the New Spencerian Compendium of Penmanship here at Internet Archive or in this PDF.
Handwriting advice and samples from the New Spencerian Compendium, courtesy Internet Archive.
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