November 21, 2009

Spencerian Ladies' Hand- Mid-1800s Handwriting Part II

This is a continuation of an earlier post about Spencerian Handwriting which can be found here. This post includes the uppercase letters.

Knowing how to read and write in the Spencerian style is fun but also helpful. I have found that being able to read and write in the Spencerian style has allowed me to read  old letters and the inscriptions in books and on the backs of photographs easily. It takes a bit of practice but it is worth the effort. Reading Civil War soldier letters isn't such a struggle anymore. I loved to read the letters before, but now I love it so much more. It is immensely helpful if you have to read any large amount of period writing at a time. It is a beautifully romantic script I urge anyone that wants to learn to give it a try.

This is the guide for lowercase letters in the Spencerian script.

Some tips on writing:
* Press as lightly as you can for the thin parts of the letters. Apply a small bit of pressure  for the darker parts.
*If your dark parts of the letters are not as dark as you need them at first, you can go over them again until you can do it naturally in one stoke.
* It helps if you mark out lines on the page in pencil to keep all of your letters straight.
*You can also print out guide sheets.

This is the stroke guide for writing the lowercase letters. Please forgive its blurriness, I could not get it any clearer.

Remember if you mess up there are two acceptable period corrections you can use:

1. You can “go with it.” Just leave it as it is, if it isn’t a big mistake, no one may notice it. If you don’t believe me, take a look at America’s most famous document: The Declaration of Independence.

Timothy Matlock for whatever reason messed up the ‘A’ in America. Millions have viewed the document and rarely do we see what is really there: “The Declaration of Independence of the United States of Жmerica.” No one really knows why he didn’t just use the normal round hand script ‘A’ every time he wrote America but he did for other words starting with ‘A.’ He also used a carrot to insert the word “only” as well. Don't fear mistakes, you may be the only one who notices. 

2. Cross it out with ink. This was done frequently in informal letters. In the 1800s a lot of things were still spelled as they sounded to the common people. Even the very educated made spelling mistakes. Accidental ink drops were fairly common too.
Another Example

*Note: The engraving is from The Payson, Dunton, & Scribner manual of penmanship (1873.)



  1. It's so beautiful. Thanks for this article. It's nice to know that people still find it important in the age of ipads and macbooks. I'm 22 and I absolutely wish I was taught to write like this.

  2. Laura, It's not too late to learn! They have been scaling back teaching handwriting in school due to everyone typing everything.

  3. Not entirely correct! He did use Ж for the capital letters. Or, in order to cover up the mistake, it was used as the capital "A" in other documents. This is a Cyrillic letter, because Matlock is not actually his real name. You can take a guess as to what his real name actually was.


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