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Penmanship is the art of writing clearly and quickly. Different styles of writing have been popular at different times and in different countries. The publication of The Spencerian Key to Practical Penmanship by Platt Rogers Spencer in 1866 introduced Business writing to North America. This "Spencerian Method " was taught in schools until the about the mid-20th century. Starting at the beginning of the 20th century, Zaner-Blosser Script and the Palmer Method, introduced by Charles Paxton Zaner (15 February 1864 - 1 December 1918) and Elmar Ward Bloser (6 November 1865 - 1929) of the Zanerian Business College and A. N. Palmer in his Palmer's Guide to Business Writing published in 1894 became the dominant copybooks in North America. Starting in the early sixties, D'Nealian Script and Getty-Dubay become the dominant copybook taught in North America.
At different times of Europe's history the quality of penmanship has varied considerably. Ancient Roman handwriting styles included Roman cursive, and the more calligraphic rustic capitals and square capitals, the latter of which forms the basis for modern capital letters and was used in stone inscriptions. Writing implements and materials were easy to come by. With the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Dark Ages, new scripts developed from the old Roman ones, such as uncial and later blackletter. The Carolingian period saw the development Carolingian minuscule, the basis for modern lower case letters, and the era saw a vast improvement in the quality of penmanship. Carolingian script was more easily readable and led to the creation of many new manuscripts, and the period is often described as a Carolingian Renaissance. The actual 15th century Renaissance saw a return to the square capitals of the classical period and the minuscule of the Carolingian period, from which modern scripts developed.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in part because printing replaced most formal communications, handwriting became extremely cramped, small, and difficult to read. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw another revival of clean formalized handwriting. In the early twenty-first century, with the increasing popularity of electronic communication , some note a decline in the quality of penmanship similar to that brought on by the advent of printing, and when handwriting does exist, it tends to be a mixture of cursive and printing; some consider this as evidence of the decline of handwriting instruction.
Illegal simulation of handwriting is a frequent occurrence and commonly appears in the legal court system. Extended handwriting and signatures are repeated vicitms of forgery, and are analyzed by a questioned document examiner.
Last updated: 10-20-2005 05:25:32