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Spencerian help/clarification



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Over the past month or so, I took a notion that I wanted to learn/teach myself Spencerian. I learned Palmer in 2nd grade and never found it particularly attractive, nor was I ever good at it.

 

I bought the reprint of the old Spencerian manual along with the copy books, and at this point I'm about 3/4 of the way through the first copybook(which teaches/has you master the first three "principles" of the straight diagonal, upper curve, and downward curve). BTW, I think that if I'd been taught Palmer this way(I assume it could be taught similarly) I might have learned it better, but that's another discussion.

 

Two things are bugging me, though.


The first is that I was under the impression that letters would generally start and end with an upward curve(2nd principle)-otherwise how would they join together? The first copy book doesn't teach this for lower-case A, however, and has you start the letter with a downward 3rd principle. There are no examples at least in the first book of a in the middle of a word, the only examples are stand-alone a and then at the beginning of a word(i.e. air). Considering that this book should be the "gospel" of correct letter forms, I'm assuming this is correct, but is this consistent with what you all know on this? If, in the middle of a word, would one simply lead with a first principle stroke before starting down to form the letter?

 

The second is more of a "me" problem, but after completing all 300-some-odd repetitions on the page in the book, I can't seem to quite make my c look correct. Getting the downward hook before looping back seems to get me to the "not this" example at the top of the page. I can post a picture of my practice page on this if it would help, but does anyone have any tips other than just practicing more and more to get this letter to look like it's supposed to?

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I'd say that a lot of Spencerian is simply understanding the strokes, and then doing the practice necessary to get those strokes into your "muscles." In the case of the a, the "gospel" is actually the theory book. The copybooks are just exercises to help you work out and implement what is in the theory book. The theory book does discuss the joins, I think. Different Spencerian masters had different practices when it came to whether or not to include the "joining stroke" of the letter a on an initial a in a letter. However, I believe the other copy books have plenty of examples of joins with a's in the middle. 

 

The big thing is working to get the motion write, which is why they have you doing so many of the basics for so long, because the Spencerian theory is based on the idea that if you can build up the principles well first, then the forming of the letters should go well. It's heavily movement focused.  

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Thank you for that.

 

Perhaps I'm approaching it wrong, but as it is I'm working I've looked at/traced the strokes and "dry practiced" the wrist/hand/arm movements in the theory book. From there, though, I dug into the theory book enough to get the strokes down for the first copy book, which again only covers the first three strokes(or I guess principles as the books call them). This afternoon's practice was the word "air".

 

I'm actually really, really enjoying the way the books teach it even though it's extremely tedious. As I said, my Palmer was always horrible(I was looking at some old report cards not too long ago where I was consistently graded highly in most everything else but had terrible grades in penmanship). As best as I remember, Palmer would adapt well to being taught in terms of basic strokes the way Specerian is, but I remember more being taught letter-by-letter. The stroke repetition has my Spencerian looking both more consistent and also to my eye better than my Palmer ever did. To be honest, I'm kind of sorry that Spencerian went out of favor-it seems no more difficult to learn than Palmer but to my eye is much, much more attractive.

 

I'll revisit theory-again-on that part and also I suppose that once I(hopefully) can master it I can make a decision for myself as to whether or not I want to use an initial joining stroke on a. A lot of the real-world writing samples I've seen seem to use it, which is why I was confused since, again, the copy book doesn't show it.

 

I have to admit too that the question and answer format of the theory book makes for somewhat awkward reading...

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Not to hijack your thread but to offer a semi-related suggestion - I too have been teaching myself Spencerian using the manual and copy books, and even though there are a lot of printable practice sheets out there, I'll say the one thing that has honestly helped me more than anything was purchasing a French-ruled Clairefontaine notebook. You'll see that ruling also referred to as Seyes, but Clairefontaine makes them in several sizes and bindings. They don't have 52-degree lines that a lot of Spencerian practice sheets (and the books have), but for me at least, the angle has been much less difficult to get used to than the heights of the ascenders and descenders. So, the French ruling really helps me with that - plus being blank notebooks (filled with good paper, at that), there's a lot of room for building muscle memory.

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6 hours ago, MikeInTulsa said:

Not to hijack your thread but to offer a semi-related suggestion - I too have been teaching myself Spencerian using the manual and copy books, and even though there are a lot of printable practice sheets out there, I'll say the one thing that has honestly helped me more than anything was purchasing a French-ruled Clairefontaine notebook. You'll see that ruling also referred to as Seyes, but Clairefontaine makes them in several sizes and bindings. They don't have 52-degree lines that a lot of Spencerian practice sheets (and the books have), but for me at least, the angle has been much less difficult to get used to than the heights of the ascenders and descenders. So, the French ruling really helps me with that - plus being blank notebooks (filled with good paper, at that), there's a lot of room for building muscle memory.

 

Thanks for that, and I will get some-I will never miss an excuse to buy more paper/notebooks.

 

The paper in the copy books I have is, to put it bluntly, utter (bleep). I've mostly been sticky to F and EF nibs with dry ink, but I still have to watch for bleed-through. I did a lot with a Pilot CH92 in F which seemed to work well, but it decided it just didn't want to write on that paper.

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I second that, French cursive is pretty close to Spencerian, even closer to Copperplate, the latter shares a number of upper case letters with French Cursive.

 

I just saw a documentary on De Gaulle and WW2 documents after France was freed by the U.S armed forces, and De Gaulle moved in to establish new institutions, Petain signed his documents with a dip pen.

 

Children, from 1900 to 1950 learned with dip pens and had to make thin and fat lines, in their writings. 

 

In the 50's, people switched to the Parker Jotter. Some had Parker 51.

 

Note that it is from people who were living in the northern region of France so, they had no access to new things during the 4 years of the occupation, and that region suffered heavy bombardments during and after D Day because of the heavily armed presence of the occupying force.   

 

 

Below is a post from 2011 that contains printable Seyes template, so you can use good printer paper to make your own, if you cannot find Clairefontaine with Seyes ruling, due to the pandemic.

 

Here you will find three different formats for the original French Seyes-based rules system for the creation of Seyes ruled paper or notepads. This system was used in France in order to help children learn to write the different characters in the right proportions.

 

The three formats available are .pdf, MSWord .doc format, and MSWord .dot template format.

 

These files were created by the original founder of FPN.

 

 

Is it fair for an intelligent and family oriented mammal to be separated from his/her family and spend his/her life starved in a concrete jail?

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