Openinkstand Art & Calligraphy

Palmer’s Penmanship Budget


I received this lovely workbook from Dr. Joe and was surprised to see how much information is packed into this humble book. I have other 19th century penmanship guide books but none as comprehensive as this one. So I thought I should post many pictures to highlight how diverse this book is. The entire book can be read online for free here, or you can find a copy on ebay or Amazon from time to time.

A plain enough cover. This book used to be owned by F.G. Mackie in 1921. I always like little marks on my old books from their original owners.

The first chapter is an introduction to the usual sitting position bla bla blah. Classes back then look exactly as they do these days, although the students seem to either wear an uniform or very similar outfits.

And the good ol palmer method alphabet. I can imagine kids back then meticulously copying every letter. Maybe some older readers remember this!

And the drills.. cunningly rebranded as ‘recreation exercises.’ Can’t fool me, I don’t care what they call it, these drills were really dull to do. They really help improve the handwriting though..

Now this is more like it! The chapter on ornamental writing written by F.B. Courtney the Pen Wizard himself. You can read it here. I will do anything you ask, Mr. Courtney, if it helps me improve!

Ugh, more drills. Nevermind. Notice how his capitals look almost identical in every way. This man has probably written these a hundred thousand times. There was more examples and samples in this chapter.

There’s also a chapter on text writing using a broad pen. They really cover everything!

Even ornamental examples.. along with some pretty ugly lettering designs.

And a chapter on engrossing too. This book has all the scripts you want to learn.

Even a short chapter on how to design certificates and resolutions. It’s mostly about layout and graphic design.

And of course lots of examples of the most beautiful and outstanding pieces of art to crush the student’s spirit.

These are chalkboard designs, on chalkboards. Wouldn’t it be nice if back then they had mobile phones, so the students can just take videos of the teachers making these monstrosities and sharing with the world  their process? Instead now all we can do is speculate.

The last chapter is on illustrating with pen and ink or pencil and charcoal. How thorough, this book really has everything for a student. And finally the book ends with a pretty humorous last page…

…Mr. Courtney’s famous portraits made using penmanship strokes!
And again the entire book can be read online for free here.

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