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The Art of Cursive Penmanship

📅 2021-Jun-13 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 🏷️ book ⬩ 📚 Archive

I was looking for a book about cursive writing and picked up The Art of Cursive Penmanship by Michael Sull who is apparently the Master Penman in the US. The book is actually a spiral bound folder of thick sheets filled with the writing and many practice sheets. Note that the book focuses on American Cursive writing.

The first chapter and the third chapters of the book delve into the history of American Cursive. In the 19th century, the style of writing popular in the US was called Spencerian, named after Platt Rogers Spencer who taught that style and popularized it. This style of writing has elaborate strokes and large oval forms and is slow and tiring to write. In the early 20th century, Austin Normal Palmer simplified the style and was easier on the hand. This style is what we consider as cursive today and this style is called American Cursive.

The second chapter goes into why handwriting is important even in the 21st century. The reasoning is primarily that it is a human activity and the end result and style is unique to every human. I think more insight if and how writing increases retention and understanding might have been good here.

The fourth chapter is the how to on American Cursive: finger and arm movement, position of the paper (45 degrees), paper movement, how to hold the pen. The rest of the chapters go into the individual letters and digits and exercises to improve writing and lots and lots of practice sheets. There is an Appendix with references to popular pen stores, conferences and magazines - most of which still seem to be functioning based on my Google searches!

Published in 2018, this book is quite beautiful to see and read, filled with elegant examples of letters and prose in cursive hand. I came to the book hoping to learn a simple cursive style to use when writing with my fountain pens. In my opinion, American Cursive is still too elaborate for the 21st century and definitely more complicated than the cursive I was taught in India in the 1980s. So my quest for a simple cursive style continues.

Rating: 3/4