In the second half of the 18th century, we have seen that the composition of copybooks had started to change into more severe and practical publications. Most copybooks contained lines of writing for the pupil to copy again and again, flourishes and ornamentation had become very marginal – when they were present at all… This trend continued in the 19th century : most children who went to school learned to read and write, the art of writing was no longer as exclusive as it was 100 years before, and potential employers were much more impressed by an efficient handwriting than by elegant flourishes. Less time was necessary to learn a proper handwiting style, which left more time for other important subjects. But this doesn’t mean that everyone was able to write well, or even fast… Writing masters were no longer needed, but penmanship teachers found a way to keep publishing successful books on handwriting.
Some, like James Henry Lewis and Joseph Carstairs “invented” new methods or systems that, they said, would allow anyone to have a quick and good looking hand. The books dedicated to such systems contained only a few plates of illustrations, showing the basic movements and letterforms, capitals were not always taught… Other authors focused on publishing methods for the use of schools, theories on the best style of writing for children varied, but the most common handwriting styles were all derived from the English round hand, even in France, where l’Anglaise dethroned the national Ronde in schools.
However, I wouldn’t say that calligraphy had died and been replaced by handwriting… Some artists and even teachers of handwriting were still very much interested in the art of beautiful writing and kept publishing books about calligraphy. Engravers in particular developed a liking for “ornamental” writing, and composed beautiful title pages and decorative titles for books that had nothing to do with penmanship. The art of lettering took off as well, and many books on artistic writing included models of drawn alphabets. In time, such calligraphic compositions, ornamental or not, also found a use in advertisement.
The Gothic Revival that had emerged in 18th-century England, gained ground in the 19th century, specially in architecture, but also in the arts. Some artists, copied manuscripts and published books on medieval arts, illumination and heraldry, and even on medieval writing styles… This is where the Arts and Crafts movement found its roots, opening the way for the 20th century “calligraphy revival” started by Edward Johnston. This list includes some titles that were part of this movement, unfortunately William Morris’s works are not part of it, if you know references I could add to the list, just let me know…
The list of books on handwriting and calligraphy published in this period is very long, many books look alike and not all are interesting, but I think that they are all little parts of the history of calligraphy, and deserved to be listed…
The development of handwriting and calligraphy took a different turn in the USA, you will find the copybooks published there in the next post.
BUTTERWORTH (Edmund), Butterworth’s Young arithmeticians instructor, 1805.
Like many of his colleagues, Butterworth was also a teacher of arithmetics : this manual is not dedicated to writing but contains beautiful examples of titles in the Round Hands and Text hands. Of course, numbers are also well represented here… Butterworth’s style is similar to what we’ll encounter thoughout this century : some very ornate title pages are followed by a clean and simple shaped round hand sometimes adorned by discreet flourishes. The hand used here is a mix of the fast, looped running hand, and the more formal round hand… There are also some nice examples of off-hand flourishes and cartouches. Unfortunately the scan is a little blurry…
ROWNTREE (John), The New Universal Penman…, 1814.
The title of this book shows the ambition of its writer. However, this copybook is very different from Bickham’s masterpiece. A few pages are dedicated to simple models in round hand, they are followed by examples ornate compositions using a variety of hands, probably useful to engravers and penmen who had to create compelling title pages. I think this book will be more useful to hand letterers and to calligraphers interested in creating ornamental titles.
CARSTAIRS (Joseph), Tachygraphy, or the flying pen, c.1814.
Joseph Carstairs invented a “new method” of handwriting centered on movement ; this is his first book on the subject and is less detailed than his Lectures on the art of writing. Writing fast was obviously his main concern. This book explains his method for acquiring a business hand, but gives no illustrations. Carstairs had trouble with James Henry Lewis, who claimed to have invented the new system and taught it to him. Lewis had published a book called The flying pen in 1806…
CARSTAIRS (Joseph), Lectures on the Art of Writing, 1815.
This is Carstairs most important publication, which made him internationally influential for a few years. In this “system”, he emphasized movement of the arm, hand and fingers and boasted of getting really good results very fast by tying the hand of his pupils. Carstairs claimed to have invented the system entirely of his own, even though he was not the only (or the first) to have had such ideas. His influence was greatest in the USA, where penmen like Spencer and Dunton based their own revolutions on Carstairs’ “movement” (the details of the method evolved and the book was regularly reprinted. A later publication can be read here). In fact, Carstairs’ style seems to have been so quickly associated with the USA, that the european translations of the 1820’s often refer to it as “the american system”. I know of translations into German, Italian and French (see it here, with all the plates in better resolution). Of course, Carstairs was harshly criticized by amateurs of “traditional” calligraphy, who argued that it takes a long time to write really well.
LEWIS (James Henry), The Royal Lewisian System of Penmanship : Or, New Method of Rapid Writing, 1816.
James Henry Lewis was Carstairs’ most virulent competitor. He claimed to have been the first (and only) inventor of the “new method of rapid writing” based on the combined movement of fingers, hand, wrist and arm. In this book detailing his system, Lewis took the time to explain why Carstairs was a fraud… These kind of attacks were quite frequent in the field of penmanship (see this pamphlet by Lewis, against Carstairs again). An augmented publication of the Lewisian system can be found here (1840).
HUNTINGTON (Eleazer), An introduction to the art of penmanship…, 1816.
This small copybook breaks down the round hand lowercases and provides models of capital letters. The style is kept very simple. The last section of the book is about stenography.
SHINTON (William E.), Beauties of ancient and modern penmanship, 1818.
Shinton seems to have been a popular calligrapher, judging by the impressive number of “subscribers” who financed the publication of this copybook… The pages include quotes laid out in the style we have already seen in Rowntree’s copybook (1814). Shinton included a beautiful, airy italian hand in his pages, which is rare for this period.
An Invaluable discovery in writing, by which the most imperfect and illegible hands are reformed, and a neat and expeditious running-hand…, 1818.
The title says it all… This small booklet is a very ambitious summary of what the 19th century penmanship books were all about.
LEWIS (James Henry Lewis), The best method of pen making, 1820.
We already know that Lewis was very proud of his techniques… in this book, he expressed at lenghts his opinions about why one should be able to cut their own pen, and the best way to do so. As he also took the time to express his contempt for Carstairs again, you will find that the information on pen cutting starts only on page 33… Lewis advised that beginners start with a soft (flexible) pen, so that they learned to have a light touch. He also explains that “a long split and a fine nib has nearly the same effect as a short split and a broad nib”, but that flexibility gives better results. In this book, Lewis claims that he invented and patented a calligraphic fountain pen, illustrated in the frontispiece. Lewis later published another book on the same subject : The Art of Making a Good Pen, with Directions for Holding it Properly (1825).
HILL (J.), An analysis of Penmanship, together with a projection of the Text Alphabet, 1821.
In this booklet, the author explains the way to form each of the lowercases in the round hand, a few plates illustrate his comments.
LANGFORD (Richard), Engrossing copies, 1825.
Richard Langford was a respected master active between the 1780’s and his death, in 1814. His copy slips were reprinted many times, even after his death. This little book contains models of the english “engrossing hand”, which was the modern gothic “english secretary” hand used in official documents.
ROBERTSON (John), The universal penman, containing rules for acquiring the knowledge…, 1830.
In this manual, John Robertson goes over a series of lessons meant to teach children and adults how to write the round hand. The instructions are thorough and the style is close to the American Engrosser’s script (still a bit rounder at the turns). His model of capital letters is very conventional. He also provides models of the running hand and some text alphabets.
FOWLER (W.), A concise introduction to the art of penmanship, 1832.
This little book explains the way to get a faster and more efficient handwriting, in the style that was becoming more prominent in writing copybooks : something between the english round running hand and the future semi-angular systems of Dunton or Spencer. A nice example of running capitals is included at the last page.
DOVE (William), A treatise on penmanship ; or, the lady’s self-instructor in the most fashionable and admired styles of writing…, 1836.
This manual dedicated to teaching penmanship to ladies contains just a few illustrations and a lot of text detailing the way to form each letter. I wonder if the scan is complete, as it seems to me that learning to write without an examplar wouldn’t be very efficient…
BUTLER (William), An introduction to arithmetic, designed for the use of young ladies, 1838.
Another copybook for the use of ladies, but this time penmanship is not the center of attention. This is a manual of arithmetic that includes a lot of engraved plates with ornamental titles in the styles seen in Bickham’s Universal Penman.
PRIOR (W.D.), Principles of Penmanship, 1842.
Subtitled Rules for the attainment of elegant and expeditious writing, this book explains in just a few pages the way to break down the round hand letters and gives advice on how to practice and get more efficient.
The Ornamental penman’s companion, or specimens of various ornamental alphabets, 1843.
This is a very short book that includes models of alphabets meant to be used in ornamental work.
Collection of modern alphabets, and SMITH (Henry D.), An introduction to plain and ornamental writing…, c.1850.
This looks like a 2 volume set : the first book consists of models of alphabets for lettering, the second book focuses on written alphabets.
JACKSON (John), The theory and practice of handwriting : a practical manual for the guidance of school boards, teachers…, 1893.
This book contains Jackson’s theories on the best way to teach handwriting in schools. Like many of his European colleagues, he supported the use of a vertical “roundish” hand, thinking that slanted hand caused children to sit in a bad posture. He provided an analysis and models for each letter, but this cannot be considered a real copybook.
Books on pre-Renaissance scripts, illumination and heraldry
JONES (Owen), The Prism of Imagination, 1844.
Owen Jones was an architect and designer who studied ancient decoration and ornamental works from around the world and published a huge Grammar of Ornament. He illustrated the borders and titles in this book. This may be of interest for anyone looking for inspiration on illumination.
SHAW (Henry), The hand book of medieval alphabets and devices, 1853.
Shaw was a reputed architectural draughtsman, engraver, illuminator, and antiquary… At this point in time, the medieval arts were making a huge come-back in Great Britain and Europe. The works of Henry Shaw reflect this influence of medieval aesthetics on art and architecture. He reproduced a lot of illuminated manuscript and published some of his works.
BRADLEY (John William), A Manual of Illumination on Paper and Vellum, 1860.
A manual published by Winsor & Newton.
SHAW (Henry), A Handbook of the Art of Illumination as practised during the middle ages…, 1866.
Like the previous publication from Shaw, this handbook will contain useful information for anyone interested in illumination. A second edition in color can be found here.
JOHNSTON (Edward), Writing, illuminating and lettering, 1906.
Johnston was a British calligrapher and typographer who is often regarded as the father of modern calligraphy. His interests in calligraphy revolved around broad edged writing styles, as he looked down on the handwriting styles in use at the turn of the century and regretted that writing styles from the Renaissance had evolved into “uninteresting” styles like “copperplate”. This book is extremely complete and is still used by aspiring calligraphers today, but it doesn’t cover any of the styles encountered in the copybooks we have listed here.
HUET de TOSTES (Jean Louis Emmanuel HUET), Les écritures expédiées à l’usage des bureaux et du commerce, 1808.
M. Huet was a writing teacher in Paris who published a few copybooks in the first two decades of the 19th century. This particular publications focuses on faster writing styles meant to be used for business : mainly the French “expédiée” (running hand), but also the English round hand.
BOURGOIN (Alexandre), Nouveau livre d’écriture, avec différentes manières de faire les encres, 1810. (extract)
Bourgoin was a writing teacher who published a plethora of copybooks, which made his work quite influential. Unfortunately, only a few pages of his work can be seen online (another extract from a book dedicated to the English Round Hand, here). His style is remarkable for its liveliness and ingenuity.
LIN-TROY, Théorie générale de l’art d’écrire ou découverte de ses élémens primitifs, 1812. (extract)
This is another example of the “new system” of writing so fashionable in the 19th century : from what I could read of this author’s method, he mainly encourages children to use detailed guidelines showing how and when to turn their pen while they learn the basics… As they progress, the guides used become simpler and the children are eventually able to write on blank paper.
DARTIGUENAVE (J), Tecnographie ou Méthode raisonnée sur l’art d’écrire…, 1818.
Dartiguenave was a writing teacher in Paris. This copybook contains plates illustrating the main French hands as well as the English round hand and what the author calls “lancasterian writing” which was taught in schools of the same name (peer tutoring schools). Ornamental flourishes are present in the margins, in the style most in fashion during the first half of the 19th century…
LESOURD (Alphonse), Nouvelle calligraphie ou Méthode raisonnée sur l’art d’écrire, c.1820.
This is very pleasant copybook, published by a writing teacher whose hand was quite elegant. The writing style is kept reasonably sober, while delicate flourishes illuminate the margins of his layouts.
PICQUET (Pierre), Recueil d’Exemples variés d’écriture anglaise…, 1820.
Small booklets like this one seem to have had a lot of success in the 19th century, but they were often broken apart into single little sheets, easier to use as models while practicing. This book is dedicated to the English round hand, but also gives many examples of other styles.
PILLON, Planches explicatives pour la taille, la tenue de la plume et les mouvements nécessaires à l’écriture, c.1820.
This little boobklet shows in a few plates, how to cut and use a quill, whether pointed and flexible or broad… Unfortunately, the scan is incomplete.
SERGENT (P.A.), La méthode d’écriture théorique et pratique appliquée aux cinq genres, c.1830 ? (extract)
This is just an extract, but it gives us some information about the different way to cut a pen according to each style in use in France : the author advises the use of a pointed pen for the English round hand and explains that this style is easier to learn because it involves less pen manipulations.
AUDIFREDI (Ange), La calligraphie progressive, 1834. (added : March 2020)
With interesting examples of flourishes and capital variations. Not as masterfuly executed as others, but with beautiful original ideas.
MIDOLLE (Jean), Oeuvres de Jean Midolle, Volume 1 (ancient writing styles), Volume 2 (modern writing styles) and here, Volume 3 (compositions), 1834.
Jean Midolle was a calligrapher and graphic artist. These three books are the result of his research on historical and modern writing styles printed in chromolithographs. Midolle’s works influenced many typographers and artists, but his work is of limited interest for calligraphers… The first two volumes provide many examples of various writing styles (many in the 2nd volume were invented by Midolle), and the third volume is full of compositions displaying the styles he documented. Midolle surrounded his compositions with lots of creative flourishes and ornaments that might be of interest to “flourishers”.
FAVARGER, L’écriture en vingt-cinq leçons, 1935.
Favarger ssems to have been a popular writing teacher in Paris. Like many of his colleagues, he devised a “new” teaching method based on Carstair’s works. His book was engraved by Jules Girault but shows little of the engraver’s virtuosity with the burin. The long introduction explains the method in details, a few engraved models display a very angular writing style that show some similarities with Dunton and Spencer’s works.
D’AVIGNON, L’écriture américaine, c.1840.
D’Avignon is mostly known for his work as an engraver of copybooks, he probably picked up calligraphy along the way, like many of his colleagues did. This small copybook contains models of the expedited round hand, in the style of Carstairs and Lewis, that was then called “American” cursive in Europe.
BELEZE (G.), Méthode d’écriture, instruction, modèles, transparents, 1843.
A “method” to learn the English RH.
RIVET (Auguste), L’ABC de l’écriture, nouvelle méthode rationnelle, c.1850 ?
This is a series of handbooks meant for school use, with lines and sentences to copy.
HAUSSEGUY (D.), Cours de calligraphie, ou Exercices gradués sur divers genres d’écriture usités en France et en Allemagne, 1854.
This copybook is part of a set of several manuals, it looks like the pages don’t fit the cover and preface… Anyway, the author provides a good number of examples of texts written in a narrow expedited hand. Full alphabets in the English round hand, the French Coulée, Ronde and Gothique are also included. I find that the ornamental flourishes in the margins are quite creative.
RAIMBAULT (D.), Le Trésor des calligraphes illustrateurs, 1855. (added : May 2020)
A vook aimed at letterers more than calligraphers. It contains models of alphabets in various styles, as well as models for borders, illustrations and very intersting flourishes meant to be used as cartouches and ornamental elements that would go well with calligraphy.
KUHN (mme), Nouvelle méthode d’écriture, 1861.
This method of teaching the English round hand and the running hand is based on the understanding of all the movements made in order to create the letterforms. The author decomposes every single letter, not by strokes but by movements.
TAUPIER (Auguste-Guillaume), La calligraphie Taupier, ou l’art d’apprendre à écrire avec ou sans maître, 1861.
Taupier was a calligrapher and teacher who perfected his own award-winning method to teach how to write. His “system” became the official method used to teach writing in French public schools. This book is the first manual he published, it was engraved by Jules Girault. Taupier also amassed a great collection of calligraphy copybooks and originals, mostly recovered by the Bibliothèque Historique de la ville de Paris and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
BERLINER (Arnauld), Nouveau cours d’écriture anglaise, 1862.
Berliner was a calligraphy teacher who also developed his own method for schools but wasn’t as successful as Taupier. This copybook focuses on the English round hand, even though the forms aren’t always perfect, it is still an intersting little manual.
BERLINER (Arnauld), Cours complet de tous les genres d’écritures usités en France, 1862.
This volume covers the gothic hands used in France.
GIRAULT (Jules), Album graphique, recueil d’alphabets français, étrangers et ornés, couronnes…, 1867.
These two small volumes created by Girault are absolutely gorgeous. Girault was mostly known for his work as a letter engraver, but he was also a skilled calligrapher. The first book focuses on various writing styles including the 3 traditional French hands and the English round hand. Both volumes includes examples of monograms and beautiful models of ornamental round hand.
MEYRAT (Pierre), Recueil Méthodique de principes d’écriture, c.1900 ?
This booklet was given to schools in Paris to help with the instruction of writing. It contains examples of the English round hand (slanted and vertical) and for the French Ronde.
DEPAEPE (T), Méthode nouvelle d’écriture anglaise démontrée dans toutes ses précisions au moyen d’une explication étendue et raisonnée des principes et à la portée de tous les âges, no date.
Yet another method to learn the English RH. This one seems to focus a little more on how to link letters together.
GIARRE (Gaetano), Scrittor fiorentino, Inventò e incise questo nuovo metodo per formare un bel carattere, 1801.
Giarrè was a very successful teacher of arithmetic and writing, as welle as an engraver. This manual consists of pages demonstrating his method for teaching the English Round Hand : letter formation, spacing and full pages of models meant to be copied as practice. His style is inspired by the Round Hand seen in the English copybooks published in the first 30 years of the 18th century (Shelley, Clark, Bickham), and is not as “modern” looking as the late 18th century style of Tomkins.
PONZILACQUA (Bartolomeo), Calligrafia Moderna, 1806.
Ponzilacqua was a prolific author of copybooks in the early 19th century. This book is dedicated to what he calls the “Italian letter”, which looks very close to the French Batarde… Some pages demonstrate the French Coulée (the French running hand) and to the English round hand. Ornamentation is mainly present in the margins and always “in tune” with the hand represented.
SOAVE (Franceso), Elementi della Calligrafia, 1807.
Francesco Soave was a priest from Lugano who organized the school textbooks in the reform in the Italian territories under Austrian domination. This is a manual with only a few plates, it was first published in 1786 and was quite successful in the peninsula.
OLIVIERI (Bernardino), Esemplari di varij caratteri per gli amatori del bene scrivere, 1812.
Contains examples of the Italian round hand style, with some pleasant illustrations.
PONZILACQUA (Bartolomeo), Tavole Elementari Calligrafia, 1815.
This publications shows the details of letter formation for the “Italian” letter and cursive, which are very similar to the French Batarde and Coulée. These are the plates used to illustrate Ponzilacqua’s full explanations contained in his Trattato teoretico pratico calligrafia (1814).
PONZILACQUA (Bartolomeo), Calligrafia tedesca : dimostrante in tavole ragionate le scritture corrente, kanzley, e la gotica o fractur, 1816.
This is an interesting example of the influence of politics on penmanship : in 1815, after the defeat of Napoleon, the old Venetian state was handed over to Austria. As the Austro-Hungarian empire used German scripts, the Italians who wished to work for the new régime had to learn the official Kurrent hands. This manual is dedicated to the German Kurrent schrift, called “Corrente Tedesca” and adorned with some French-inspired variations.
LENZI (Carlo), Cinquanta Tavole Alfabetiche, 1830.
Contains a variety of models for calligraphy and lettering.
DE SANCTIS (Gabriele), Esemplare di alfabeti diversi fregiati di fiori, di animali e di altri ornati, 1830.
Not a copybook per se : it contains examples of decorated round hand letters, among other things.
SELLA ROMANO (Antonio), Corso di calligrafia.., 1834. (extract)
Unfortunately I coud only find an extract of this book… The author seems to have enjoyed flourishes a lot, his design is quite typical of what cen be seen in other copybooks from this era.
GORLA (Giuseppe), Piccolo album di calligrafia, c.1840.
Typical small album, with some beautiful flourishes.
BERTOLLA (Giuseppe), Corso TeoricoPratico Calligrafia, 1850.
The first part of this copybook focuses on the English round hand (ductus, letter formation and models), and the second part tackles the “italian round hand” and provides examples of other ornamental styles (lettering).
PAOLETTI (E.), Modelli di Calligrafia, 1861.
Examples of what was then called in Europe the American cursive : a semi-angular variation of the running round hand. There are some interesting lowercase variations, but overall the style used is very “conventional”.
TONSO (Giovanni), Modelli di Calligrafia, 1899.
Contains a variety of models for calligraphy and lettering, including the english round hand, all of the major european hands in their italian variation…
PASINATTI (Claro), Modello di Calligrafia,c.1900.
Models of the English round hand, the French Ronde, some gothic hands and lettering alphabets.
BENEDETTI (Cesare), La Calligrafia insegnata nelle scuole secondarie, 1904.
A school manual showing mostly the details of the modern French ronde. It also contains examplars of the german kurrent and some “original” capital letters.
D’URSO (Nicola), Calligrafia Moderna, 1914.
A full manual of calligraphy with instruction for the main european hands.
LA MANNA (Francesco), Modello Calligrafia, 1935.
Again, a full manual of calligraphy, containing demonstrations for a variety of European hands, including the modern round hand, a vertical variation, the French Ronde, a cursive running hand… The guidelines used by La Manna can be found in this booklet.
KAUFMANN (Ferdinand), English Alphabets : with a Variety of Examples … nach Tomkins, 1805.
This German copybook is dedicated to “English Alphabets” with models inspired by Tomkins, Champion. It contains a first section in letterpress explaining the Round Hand itself, its use, its principles, and how to prepare a quill. The author gives very basic examples of letters and words, with minimal ornamentation ; the style is close to Engrosser’s script.
PETTER (Franz), Die Schönschreibekunst, 1823.
This copybook provides lots of directions on how to write, a few examples at the end break down the letters of the English round hand (similar to Engrosser’s) and of the German kurrent. Guidelines are used, which is quite unusual for masters at this point.
NADELIN (Wilhelm Heinrich), Methodische Anleitung zum Schön- und Schnellschreiben : nach Carstairs’schen Grundsätzen für Elementarschulen…, 1839.
This is a translation of Carstairs’ system. The author also applies the carstairian movement to the German handwriting style.
STEINMUELLER, Steinmueller’s Calligraphische Musterblätter. Sammlung aller in Deutschland üblichen Schriftarten…, c. 1854.
This book contains many examples of full capital alphabets, including some script alphabets (english round hand, german kurrent…)
SOENNECKEN (Friedrich – publisher), A methodical guide-book to round-writing for self-instruction and use in schools, 1876.
A great resource for anyone interested in learning the “german-american” variation of the French Ronde. Soennecken was a steel nib manufacturer who is credited by Wikipedia for inventing the round-writing style and the nib associated with it. This book is one of the few manuals he published on the subject.
ANDUAGA y GARIMBERTI (Josef de), Compendio del arte de escribir por reglas y sin muestras..., 1805.
This work was first published in 1791 and went through several editions. It provides lenghty rules for the execution of fine writing, with a few plates illustrating the author’s theories.
STIRLING (Ramon), Bellezas de la calligrafia, 1844.
Unfortunately, this is a really bad copy… Ramon Stirling excelled at creating ornamental round hand, his flourished capitals and off-hand flourishes are very impressive. The plates were engraved by one of the very best letter engravers in Europe at the time : Jules Girault. This copybook served as inspiration for the creation of Alejandro Paul’s Bellissima font and Ramiro Espinoza’s Medusa. The first part of the book, containing all of the comments (in spanish) can be found here.
DE BOBES (Enrique), Cuaderno Calligrafico, c.1890.
This album contains a few pages about calligraphy, includes models for the Redondilla and the english round hand as well as a few examples of monograms, alphabets for lettering…
VALLICIERGO (Vincente), Calligrafia Inglesa, 1896.
This book focuses on the modern English round hand. Valliciergo provides examples written on complete guidelines, which is helpful to understand the proportions of each letter. You will also find many capital variations.
COUTINHO (Luis Gonçalves), Album de escrita, 1816.
This copybook contains a few plates dedicated to the “modern” English round hand, ornamentation is minimal.