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The Art of the Flourish
July 20, 2010 8:57 PM   Subscribe

Platt Rogers Spencer was born in 1800 near the Hudson River. His family was too poor to afford paper so Spencer practiced on whatever was handy – leaves, bark, snow and sand – everything was a canvas for handwriting.

Through a series of popular textbooks and business colleges throughout the United States, Spencerian became the style of penmanship. So what happened to the flourish? Modern life and the Palmer method.
posted by Sara C. (7 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks, this is beautiful.
posted by cirripede at 9:26 PM on July 20, 2010


Great stuff.

The Palmer method samples look exactly like my mom's handwriting (1950's Catholic school).
posted by nev at 6:30 AM on July 21, 2010


I wish I had spent more time on handwriting. Mine is atrocious. This reminds how atrocious. If only I had taken the time to practice.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:12 AM on July 21, 2010


My god... it's full of curlicues
posted by FatherDagon at 8:48 AM on July 21, 2010


WOW! I need to practice my signature more to incorporate birds into it.
posted by wcfields at 9:47 AM on July 21, 2010


"Flourish" - so that's what those things are called! I always wondered whether there was a name for this kind of thing and maybe books of examples somewhere, but I've never known what the name was.

I've been drawing what I call a "swooshy mark" under my signature for years, in vague imitation of 18th century signatures like John Hancock's. I think at this point the ornament is probably more recognizable than the signature itself, which is a thoroughly degenerate scrawl. I spent a while learning to freehand various rotationally symmetrical curlicues; it's a nice party trick.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:44 AM on July 21, 2010


When I graduated from law school, my mother bought me a collection of materials on learning Spencerian script by Michael Sull. Mom gushed about how nice he was on the phone, and my package arrived with more than one sample of his work. (My name, for instance, in the packing materials.)
posted by Hylas at 2:44 PM on July 21, 2010


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