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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™, Austin Pen™, Bonhomme Richard™, Bonsai™, Botanical Scribe™, Broadsheet™, Castine™, Douglass Pen™, Emily Austin™, Geographica™, Geographica Hand™, Geographica Script™, Houston Pen™, Lamar Pen™, Military Scribe™, Old Man Eloquent™, Remsen Script™, Schooner Script™, Terra Ignota™ & Texas Hero™ (as well as all other fonts in the Handwritten History™ Bundle)—are the intellectual property of Three Islands Press (copyright ©1994–2015). For site licensing contact:

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   P.O. Box 1092
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   (207) 596-6768


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Posts Tagged ‘Professor font’
Letters Home
Sunday, June 21st, 2015
Envelope from Camp Maxey.

Envelope from Camp Maxey.

My father spent a lot of time writing, starting at a delicate age. Early on he aspired to be an author, kept a diary for many years, wrote poems and stories and at least one novel. And he had handsome penmanship, too: a standard, legible cursive with only a few peculiarities—including a “p” with a tallish upstroke and a formal “r.”

But my dad could also type like a maestro. I remember as a boy hearing the sound of his old manual typewriter clattering away in his study. I remember asking him to show me how he made that magical thing work. And I remember later thinking it impossible to type so fast (120 words a minute, as I recall). Then in high school I took a typing class, and before too long I could type nearly as fast as Dad.

Dad’s first letter home.

Dad’s first letter home.

Still, at least early on, my father tended to write all his personal letters by hand. Like the daily letters home he wrote from basic training in 1943.

After he died I discovered that at some point Dad had typed up all those 1943 letters—keyboarded them into his Mac, saved them to floppy disks, printed out all the pages, collected them into loose-leaf binder. The letters span a period from May 9th to July 31st and take up 212 typewritten pages. A cover page is titled “Letters Home.”

Some time later I found a box containing the original handwritten letters he’d sent home to Amarillo. Each page of U. S. Army stationery is completely covered with my father’s airy, twenty-year-old hand. Written mostly in pencil, his letters tell of every mundane event, list the books and magazines he’s reading, relate the things he’s thinking about. Some of his youthful observations are stirring, almost poetic. He writes, for instance, during a time of waiting:

When a day is with me, it stays so long. But when it is away from me, it seems to have lasted so short a time.

The circus comes to town.

The circus comes to town.

I also have here a journal for the year 1947, a year of uncertainty for my father—a summer home after college, a time of girl troubles—that includes a remarkable page devoted entirely to a visit to the circus. You can almost feel from the angle of the penmanship his delight with the event before even reading the words:

The show itself was furiously thrilling. From the opening act of wild animal trainers to the closing parade of wrinkled, dust-covered elephants, one could not catch the many thrills with the eyes and ears.

(Dad was a man of wonder.)

But perhaps the most touching thing I found earlier today while going through a box old family keepsakes: his handwritten description—in white ink on the black page of a photo album—of a picture he’d taken of his beloved dog Bill:

Snow and a beautiful day enabled me to get this splendid shot of Bill. I got Bill in 1930 when he could hardly walk. I snapped this the winter before he was 10. This is the once-in-a-lifetime picture that turned out exactly like you wanted it to. Bill could sit up, clap his paws, play hide and seek and do other things once, but now he can still sit up. He is a swell dog.

Photo of my dad’s dog, Bill.

Photo of my dad’s dog, Bill.

(At one point the angle of his writing changes, as does its vividness, where he’s paused to replenish his ink.)

Dad’s handwriting was so legible that in 1997 I modeled a font after it. I called it Professor, after his eventual distinguished career—a career that, sure enough, involved a lot of writing (and literary translation). Right away he installed the font on his Mac and took to using it to personalize his correspondences while still typing at breakneck speed. The relative popularity of Professor tickled him no end.

Until the end.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

* * *


Work continues on Military Scribe font, meantime, due for release on the Fourth of July. Since it simulates the troop rosters of the His Majesty’s Tenth Regiment of Foot (circa late 1770s), I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at its current state by list some actual regimental names.

A draft specimen of Military Scribe (coming July 4th).

A draft specimen of Military Scribe (coming July 4th).

Future Paleography: Deciphering Cursive
Saturday, August 9th, 2014
Deciphering cursive necessary among the 18th century literate

Replica Abigail Adams letter (set in our eponymous font)

Paleography is the study of old handwriting. Paleographers peer far back into the past—to ancient times, in fact, soon after written communication began. The scribblings of the long dead have always fascinated us, much as early photographs do, by giving us glimpses of people both a lot like us and different, having already fallen victim to inexorable time. Unlike early photos, though, you’ve got to sit and decipher old handwriting.

Early Modern Paleography—that period from the Middle Ages to the 1700s or so—is tricky enough. You’ve got those crazy shapes, all swoops and curls, and weird abbreviations. And if you read only English (as I do, alas), there was no such thing as proper spelling. Seems all you had to do is sound out a word in your head, then run through the alphabet until you found a group of letters that more or less matched that sound. Clearly, when the chips were down, pronunciation trumped spelling.

Mrs Elizth Howard

“Mrs Elizth Howard” (Emily Austin)

Of course, the past three centuries are what get the most attention these days, perhaps because of a surging interest  in genealogy. We’ve always looked back—but now we’ve got slick online research tools and fancy Retina displays on which to study old documents. Most formerly mystifying handwriting peculiarities are starting to become familiar: that “long “s” that looks like a lowercase “f”, the “p” with the tall ascender. Then there are those curious flourishes at the ends of words, like the “d” that loops back over, or the abrupt upward arc-like stroke at the end of an ultimate “t.” Heck, it’s not all that uncommon to come across an uncrossed “t.” Or weird-looking ampersands. Or misspelled words.

Certainly they differed

“Certainly they differed from” (Remsen Script)

Misspellings, really, were so common through the 19th century that you’re often faced with a puzzle of context—is that “dich” as in “ditch,” or “dish”?—and punctuation was either whimsical or nonexistent. But there’s gold in them there old scribblings, if you prospect long enough. Take, for instance, this excerpt from a letter written on 21 June 1836 by venerable Texas pioneer woman Emily Austin Perry (Stephen F Austin’s sister) to her husband James at Peach Point Plantation:

If you should have Carpenters imployed, I wish you to have a Necessary House built, in the Back Yard, in the corner of the Fence by the Lane, and on a line with the Hen-House, it can set over the Dich; these City Dames will think it Horrible to run into the Woods.

Shapeless things ruffled his coat

“Shapeless things ruffled his coat” (Douglass Pen)

I’ve learned a lot and had a lot of fun. But my years of poring over old letters and journals, deciphering the handwriting of those long-dead souls, has had me wondering lately about paleographers in some future time when “literally,” “figuratively,” and “virtually” are synonymous, and “u” is generally accepted to mean “you.” What will be their main challenges when, say, they look back on handwriting from the late 20th century?

Assuming our text type will look about the same, and that our hand-lettering (if any) will still resemble it, here are some speculative puzzles for paleographers yet to come who face the task of deciphering cursive script:

Today we have little trouble deciphering cursive script

Might future generations decipher this? (Professor)

• Uppercase A, E, F, G, I, J, L, Z, etc.—these look nothing like printed text
• Lowercase “s”—what’s that lumpy-looking thing, anyway?
• Lowercase “r”—another lumpy-looking thing
• Lowercase “b”—hardly a resemblance
• Lowercase “x”—ditto
• Lowercase “z”—ditto

Of course there will be lingering ironies—e.g., everyone will know just what “&” means, even though they’ll have no clue that the shape itself came from combining the letters “et” (and) in Latin. And the number sign (#) will officially be known as a “hash.” But my guess is there’ll still be people who will appreciate antique penmanship in the year 2100 or 2200. They’ll browse our digital archives, squint at our looping lowercase “l”s, consult their reference materials when they come across a “Z.” Somewhere beyond our handwriting, then, they’ll feel a nudge of recognition—and a twinge at the passage of time.

Abigail Adams American Scribe Austin Pen Bonhomme Richard 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

Geographica Hand Terra Ignota Attic Antique Bonsai Broadsheet Castine

Historical Pens Old Map Fonts Texas Heroes Set Geographica Set Antique Texts Modern Hands

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