Jump to content
Classifieds is broken, please do not submit any new ads ×

Books on Italic Handwriting and Calligraphy



Recommended Posts

BillTheEditor

Many here have recommended Getty and Dubay (Write Now) as a good guide to improving handwriting by switching to an italic style. This is a fine book, and readily available. However, I am a firm believer in looking at more than one guide, if at all possible, because there are so many fine examples around if you know where to find them. So here is a list of some books that I found helpful between 1962 and the mid-1990's as I learned and practiced. Almost all of these are out of print, but you can usually find them on Amazon.com or by special order from other booksellers on the Web. I'll start the list with Getty and Dubay, though.

 

Good luck with your efforts to write more beautifully!

 

Write Now: a complete self-teaching program for better handwriting. Getty, Barbara and Dubay, Inga. (1991) Continuing Education Press, Portland State University.

 

Italic Calligraphy & Handwriting: Exercises and Text. Reynolds, Lloyd J. (1969) Pentalic Corporation, New York. (Reynolds was a world-famous calligrapher who taught many of today's masters, but this book is all about handwriting, not calligraphy. I actually think this is a better book in many ways than Getty and Dubay, but it has fewer practice exercises. If I had to guess, I would say that more people worldwide have used Lloyd Reynolds' book to improve their handwriting than any other source. It's a thin little spiral-bound book, but you know you can't judge a book by its cover!)

 

Handwriting for Today. Gourdie, Tom. (Date not given -- probably early 1970's) Pitman Publishing, London and Pentalic Corporation, New York. (Like Reynolds, Tom Gourdie was a world-class calligrapher who thought everyone should learn to write clearly and cleanly. To set the example, this entire book was written out by hand, using Parker 65 and Parker 61 fountain pens with italic nibs. Many, many examples and letters from his students. This is my favorite italic handwriting book, rescued from a library rummage sale years ago.)

 

If you want to go on to consider calligraphy, here are the two books that at different stages in my development gave me the inspiration to go on:

 

The Art of Calligraphy: A practical guide. Angel, Marie. (1977) Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. (Marie Angel was the real deal. An exquisite watercolorist, illustrator, and calligrapher, her work does look like it was produced by an angel. This book doesn't show off her fantastic work, though. It is just what it claims to be, a practical guide for the student and for the working calligrapher. Start here. She won't let you down.)

 

Written Letters: 33 alphabets for calligraphers, expanded and revised. Svaren, Jacqueline. (1986) Taplinger Publishing Company, New York. (While many of the authors above are or were English, Jacqueline Svaren is an American calligrapher. This book is a wonderful exposition of calligraphic styles, from the Romans up through Herman Zapf and modern typographers who were calligraphers first. 32 styles or expansions of styles, help for beginners, tips for all. Great book, and should be the second one you use, after Marie Angel, for improving your calligraphic versatility.)

 

Speedball Textbook for Pen & Brush Lettering. George, Ross F. (1960) Hunt Manufacturing Company, Philadelphia. (Emphasis is on using dip pens, lots of stuff for sign and show card artists, but also (in the later editions, such as the 19th) there is a lot of calligraphy instruction and examples.)

Edited by BillTheEditor
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 79
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • caliken

    8

  • StevenHu

    5

  • James Pickering

    4

  • HDoug

    3

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted Images

I've a page which lists books on calligraphy:

 

http://members.aol.com/willadams/books-calligraphy.html

 

which includes a link to a free on-line version of Arrighi's _La Operina_:

 

http://briem.ismennt.is/4/4.4.1a/4.4.1.01.operina.htm

 

While Arrighi is in a class of his own, Carolyn Knudsen's _An Italic Calligraphy Handbook_ is one of the best of contemporary texts and one which I can't recommend highly enough.

 

William

Link to post
Share on other sites
James Pickering

There are numerous books and references available for beginners these days. Two popular ones are:

 

Write Now by Barbara Getty

Learn Calligraphy by Margaret Shepherd

 

The standard reference for serious calligraphers -- and which has been for the last hundred years -- is:

 

Writing & Illuminating & Lettering by Edward Johnston

 

Johnston is the father of modern calligraphy and literally rediscovered the techniques and methodologies employed by (particularly) ancient and medieval scribes. This is an indispensable reference that covers all aspects of calligraphy -- cutting and preparation of quills & reed pens; preparation of parchment & vellum; preparation of inks; rendering various letterforms; gilding; illuminating; rubrication; layout & production of hand written books .......... and so on -- a veritable treasure trove of information. This was the definitive reference we used as a text book when I was first introduced to calligraphy in 1939 -- I have worn out two copies over the years and am now using my third one. Numerous "updated" variations of this book have been produced by a wide array of author/calligraphers from time to time, but in my opinion Johnston's treatise is still the best.

 

Lettering by Graily Hewitt was the other major reference that we used when I was a boy, notable for its exhaustive coverage of Roman humanistic letterforms and gilding. I still own (and use) my original (1930) edition of this book bought for me by my mother in 1939.

 

My own personal favorite latter-day general calligraphy reference book is More Than Fine Writing - Irene Wellington compiled by Heather Child, Heather Collins, Anne Hechle and Donald Jackson -- marvelous classic letterforms & superlative illumination -- she is my favorite all around calligrapher.

 

My favorite Italic writing references are:

 

A Handwriting Manual by Alfred Fairbank

Three Classics of Italian Calligraphy (Arrighi, Tagliente, Palatino) by Oscar Ogg

Masters of the Italic Letter - twenty two exemplars from the sixteenth century by Kathryn Atkins

An Italic Copy Book - The Cataneo Manuscript by Stephen Harvard

The first Writing Book -- Arrighi's Operina by John Howard Benson

Arrighi's Running Hand -- A Study of Chancery Cursive by Paul Standard

 

The latter two books are noteworthy in that they are written out entirely by hand using fountain pens (including the book covers and introductory pages) -- the Arrighi style italic letterforms of Benson are especially well crafted and elegant.

 

There is an excellent online resource by Gunnlaugur Briem at .....

 

http://briem.ismennt.is/4/4.4.1a/4.4.1.01.operina.htm

 

..... wherin he presents and analyzes Arrighi's letterforms and then provides a facsimile of Arrighi's famous copybook in its entirety.

 

I also offer an online resource at .....

 

http://jp29.org/itdr.htm

 

..... that covers my adaptation of the Italic hand of Bernardino Cataneo

Link to post
Share on other sites
BillTheEditor

Wonder if the moderators/administrators would consider pinning this thread? Great resources being listed here, and would save us reposting all this information piecemeal -- people ask about textbooks and copy books and workbooks all the time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just bought a used copy of A Handwriting Manual by Alfred Fairbank through Amazon. More interesting than the "manual" part of the book are the many examples of people's writing. Youngsters and adults both. Really encouraging and wonderful to peruse. I think the latter editions have more examples than earlier ones. Mine is the ... 4th printing of the paperback edition.

 

Doug

Link to post
Share on other sites
sonia_simone

Thanks so much Bill & James for these resources.

 

I agree, this would be a very useful pinned thread.

Isn't sanity really a one-trick pony, anyway? I mean, all you get is one trick, rational thinking! But when you're good and crazy . . . ooh hoo hoo hoo! . . . the sky's the limit!

--The Tick

Link to post
Share on other sites

A great thread - I agree it should be pinned. Thanks to Mr. Pickering and BillThe Editor.

 

I an addition. It is probably out of print at this point but I see there are used copies available now and then.

 

The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting by Fred Eager. New York: Collier Books.

 

It is well organized, clear instruction and has useful drills.

 

I used this book many years ago ( It was $3.95 at the time - if that gives you an idea). I found it useful. I have also used the Write Now books. Highly recommended.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, excellent recommendations! I also second the Fred Eager endorsement for those seeking to adopt a modified italic as their everyday handwriting. While it is out of print, secondhand copies seem to be available fairly easily (I have two that were unmarked when I got them). Good tips, pretty exemplars, lots of drill -- although I liked the Dubay/Getty copybook exercises because they consisted of neutral selections on the history of handwriting. Samples from Eager's students were very inspiring, and he distinguishes between an everyday hand and a more formal one.

http://img356.imageshack.us/img356/8703/letterminizk9.png
Link to post
Share on other sites
James Pickering

I must say a few words about Ann Finley.

 

In my opinion the contributions of Ann here have not received the recognition they deserve. I have been most remiss in not acknowledging her contributions and for that I most humbly apologize. Ann is an accomplished calligrapher -- most notably as a practitioner of the Italic (Chancery) writing hand -- and a fine teacher to boot. She has contributed many helpful posts here over the years always in a gentle and modest way.

 

I think her Chancery Italic Script instructions which are pinned here qualify as a first rate instructional reference -- almost like an online mini-book.

 

BTW, I also wish to acknowledge Corien's contributions -- what happened to her?

 

James

Edited by James Pickering
Link to post
Share on other sites
James Pickering

IMO, an outstanding historical reference is:

 

Explicatio Formarum Litterarum - The Unfolding of Letterforms by Rutherford Aris

 

Unfortunately, I can only find one copy for sale online (accompanied by a brief review) at present:

 

http://www.vanstockum.nl/?page=%2Fproduct.php%3Fid%3D646456

Link to post
Share on other sites
I must say a few words about Ann Finley.

 

In my opinion the contributions of Ann here have not received the recognition they deserve. I have been most remiss in not acknowledging her contributions and for that I most humbly apologize. Ann is an accomplished calligrapher -- most notably as a practitioner of the Italic (Chancery) writing hand -- and a fine teacher to boot. She has contributed many helpful posts here over the years always in a gentle and modest way.

 

I think her Chancery Italic Script instructions which are pinned here qualify as a first rate instructional reference -- almost like an online mini-book.

 

BTW, I  also wish to acknowledge Corien's contributions -- what happened to her?

 

James

My goodness, James, thank you for all of the kind words!!!

 

I've been mostly away for a couple of weeks (and will be for another couple of weeks) working on a personal project. This morning, making this quick check-in, I almost fell off of the chair when I saw your post!

 

RE: Corien...I received an e-mail New Year's Day. She's been busy with other things and is not as active on FPN or PT anymore, but says she still enjoys writing with FPs and hearing from pen friends.

 

Thanks again for brightening my day! :)

Ann

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

I've noticed considerable interest in Copperplate calligraphy on this Forum, with instruction recommendations which (naturally) concentrate on books currently in print.

 

Although I had some instruction in the use of the edged pen, I am self-taught in calligraphy in the Copperplate style using flex nibs.

I used two books only - George Bickham's "The Universal Penman" (drawn lettering) for inspiration and Dick Jackson's "Copperplate Calligraphy" (written lettering) for instruction. I have a particular love of this form of lettering and I believe that I have read every instruction manual on the subject since buying Dick Jackson's book back in 1979. In my opinion, none of the others come close to his book for clarity. technique, brevity and beautiful examples throughout. Having thoroughly absorbed his techniques, I did, however, make a couple of minor modifications to suit my own hand - I hasten to add that they were not necessarily improvements!

 

I have no connection whatsoever with the late Dick Jackson, the American calligrapher and teacher. It's just that I owe so much to this particular book that I feel that I should, at least, make those interested in the style, aware of its existence. Although it's been out of print for some time, I see that there are currently 16 used copied available through Amazon.

 

caliken

 

Edited by caliken
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 7 months later...

I think I'm a bit of a lost cause as far as developing 'beautiful handwriting' is concerned...in fact I'm not really interested in trying to reach that level at this stage of my life.

 

What I would like to do is just to make my rather untidy and uneven writing a bit neater and nicer to look at, without suppressing its 'character' :) ....so I'd like some simple exercises to work through with that aim.

 

 

 

If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you.

 

Don Marquis

US humorist (1878 - 1937)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Hi, Bill:

 

Amazon.com has some outrageous pricing for the book by Tom Gourdie, well over $100. However, there is another url on Amazon where I found a used copy for an outrageously low price, and there is one more copy of this book listed for only $0.01 difference!

 

Here is the "magic url." Of course, if my copy somehow doesn't get to me, we will have to negotiate:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/027...2483718-6306452

 

By the way, I'm loving this new hobby and this Network already. I just now ordered my first "serious" fountain pen, a Lami Al-Star with an Italic nib. If I like it, I'm bound to jump next to a Pelikan and one of Richard Binder's special nibs!

 

All my best,

 

Mischa Z

 

 

Handwriting for Today. Gourdie, Tom. (Date not given -- probably early 1970's) Pitman Publishing, London and Pentalic Corporation, New York. (Like Reynolds, Tom Gourdie was a world-class calligrapher who thought everyone should learn to write clearly and cleanly. To set the example, this entire book was written out by hand, using Parker 65 and Parker 61 fountain pens with italic nibs. Many, many examples and letters from his students. This is my favorite italic handwriting book, rescued from a library rummage sale years ago.)

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 9 months later...

Here's one that I actually found in my school's library.

 

It's called "The Art of Calligraphy" by David Harris. It shows several alphabets from various time periods and gives a brief history on each set.

It also tells which kinds of nibs/pens would work best for each alphabet.

I've renewed it every time it's time for me to turn it in. I love the book to death.

 

Great read, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful, in my opinion.

 

I definitely recommend it.

http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j166/purestrife/VectorSigJAS06.png

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

One good way to get a grasp of calligraphic forms is to examine the examples from history. For those interested in italic and the foundational hand that originated in early Renaissance Italy, here are a couple of books with some wonderful examples:

 

The origin and development of humanistic script, by B.L. Ullman. An academic, but easily read text with 70 reproductions from the gothic predecessors of italic, to the bookhand of Poggio Bracciolini and cursive italic of Niccolo Niccoli. The examples stop at the late 15th century so nothing by Arrighi or Palatino in this one. Link is to the Amazon page where I got a new hardcover reprint for $28. I notice the link now shows a $19 pricetag, but I don't know if that's to the same edition because I grabbed the last one in stock for the particular edition I have.

 

Humanistic script of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, by A.J. Fairbank and R.W. Hunt. This thin paperback (I got mine used) is a "Bodleian picture book" has 24 examples of Renaissance script from the collection of the Bodleian Library reproduced in (slightly smaller than) actual size. Boy, could those guys write tiny. The examples range a wider chronology than Ullman's book -- from Carolingian ancestors to William Morris's 19th century revival of the clear and elegant (both bookhand and cursive) "italic" letterform.

 

Doug

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Hello!

I was thinking about starting to use a fountain pen - but I have never used one for any longer time! Which book would you recommend as a good guide for everyday writing/calligraphy? I've always hated fountain pens because I always had hands full of ink so... I gave up. But I would like to give it a try - again.

 

Any suggestions? I know that if I apply my "normal" style I will have problems with a fountain pen and I will easily damage it...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill,

 

In my fantasies, I dream of doing calligraphy, but in real life, I must work for a long time to achieve a decent everyday hand. I am working through Write Now, and find it very useful. I looked high and low for other manuals for penmanship, for other perspectivs and letterform choices and didn’t find any. Many thanks for the penmanship references.

 

Mark

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now







×
×
  • Create New...