Old penmanship and handwriting fonts
 OLD MAP FONTS:
Antiquarian
Antiquarian Scribe
Terra Ignota
 HISTORICAL PENS:
Abigail Adams
American Scribe
Botanical Scribe
Douglass Pen
Emily Austin
Houston Pen
Lamar Pen
Military Scribe
Lamar Pen
Remsen Script
Schooner Script
Texas Hero
 ANTIQUE TEXTS:
Attic Antique
Bonsai
Broadsheet
Castine
Order Handwriting Fonts
 CREDITS, &C.
Order Historical Fonts Online
The text face used here (as well as elsewhere) is Broadsheet™. The home page letters are set in Emily Austin™ & Lamar Pen™. All typefaces referenced on this website—Abigail Adams™, American Scribe™, Antiquarian™, Antiquarian Scribe™, Attic Antique™, Bonsai™, Botanical Scribe™, Broadsheet™, Castine™, Douglass Pen™, Emily Austin™, Houston Pen™, Lamar Pen™, Military Scribe™, Old Man Eloquent™, Remsen Script™, Schooner Script™, Terra Ignota™ & Texas Hero™—are the intellectual property of Three Islands Press (copyright ©1994–2015). For site licensing contact:

   Three Islands Press
   P.O. Box 1092
   Rockport ME 04856 USA
   (207) 596-6768
   info@oldfonts.com

 

The Antique Penman
     H O M E  
  F A Q  
Archive for September, 2016
Fancying Things Up: 18th Century Penmanship
Thursday, September 15th, 2016
Amerique Septentrionale (detail).

Amerique Septentrionale (detail).

It all began with my fascination with old maps. Long before I’d even designed my first font, in fact, my parents had given me a collection of printed maps of Texas from the 1500s to the 1900s called Contours of Discovery.

I marveled at the hand-lettered legends and place names and how they differed over the centuries—and years later modeled Terra Ignota after the lettering on one of these prints, Amerique Septentrionale, by French cartographer Nicolas Sanson d’Abbeville.

Cartographic work of Emanuel Bowen (detail).

Cartographic work of Emanuel Bowen (detail).

To date, I’ve released five typefaces inspired by maps and charts from the 17th through 19th centuries, most recently my first-ever serif text-type family, Geographica. My plan was to offer two kindred fonts—a script and a hand—that simulate the penmanship on Geographica’s source materials, the mid-1700s maps of English engravers Emanuel Bowen and Thomas Jefferys.

And in rounding out the character set for the first of these, Geographica Script, I stumbled on a fascinating phenomenon I’d never heard of: trade cards. In particular, British and Colonial American trade cards from the 1700s that, like cartographic prints from the period, demonstrated ornate 18th century penmanship.

Trade card for Spermacaeti Candles.

Trade card for Spermacaeti Candles (click for larger view).

The precursors of modern business cards, trade cards were designed, engraved, and printed for tradesmen, service providers, and salespeople to distribute to potential customers as introductions to (or advertisements for) their particular businesses. Not only were these cards covered in fancy, graceful round hand, but they usually also featured opulent floral designs and period illustrations of products and popular symbols—like anchors, crowns, doves, and lions rampant.

As soon as I laid eyes on 18th century trade cards, Geographica Script got a lot more interesting: it’ll come with many such ornaments.

William Hogarth illustration.

William Hogarth illustration.

A number of the images I found—in collections from such places as the British Museum, the Museum of London, and Yale’s Lewis Walpole Library—were the work of English printmaker William Hogarth, an artist and cartoonist credited with pioneering western sequential art. The prolific Hogarth was a master at reproducing the iconic symbols of the period.

And the round hand itself on these varied, intricate cards added a plethora of flourishes, swashes, and embellishments. Curls and loops, fancy ampersands. (My OpenType-features cup overfloweth.) Plus, I learned a few things, such as the meaning of the ubiquitous abbreviation “NB” (nota bene, or note well) and the fact that, as long as 250 years ago, we English speakers were fond of the phrase “all sorts of.”

Geographica Script is taking longer than I’d imagined, but I’m anxious to find out how it’s received. (There’ll even be a unicorn!) I dare not predict a release date, but keep your eyes peeled.

Geographica Script Unicorn rampant.

Geographica Script unicorn rampant.

* * *

A few trade card links:

Trade cards at the British Museum

Trade cards at the Museum of London

Trade cards at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Trade cards at Waddesdon Manor

Search the Lewis Walpole Digital Images Collection

Trade cards on Pinterest

 


 

Miscellanea

» Do this: take five minutes to listen to this TED talk by Lakshmi Pratury on letter-writing. (Just do it.)

» Here’s a transcript of the Ted Radio Hour podcast about Laskhmi Pratury’s talk (and a link to the podcast).

» Civil War amputees helped by left-handed penmanship contests

» …and Geneva, Ohio, students participate in a Spencerian handwriting contest.

» The power of cursive penmanship in the 21st century, in response to…

» …Anne Trubek’s opinion in the New York Times (that handwriting no longer matters).

» Japan’s prime minister wins praise for his handwriting’s “good-looking characters.”


Abigail Adams American Scribe Botanical Scribe Douglass Pen Emily Austin Houston Pen

Lamar Pen Military Scribe Old Man Eloquent Remsen Script Schooner Script Texas Hero

Antiquarian Antiquarian Scribe Bonnycastle Geographica Terra Ignota

Attic Antique Bonsai Broadsheet Castine

Full Library Historical Pens Antique Texts Old Map Fonts Modern Hands

Handwritten History Bundle


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