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Ancestrial Handwriting - Spencerian Script

With handwriting nearly a lost art and less being used and taught in schools due to the use of texting and computers, it is fascinating to look back at the type of handwriting style script your ancestors were taught and used in the 1800s and in the first half of the 20th century. It is called Spencerian Script.

This style of handwriting was essential for anyone of any type of education and especially those in business, law and government; to write documents, letters, business records and forms. Ordinary people also used this writing mostly their correspondence. It is considered an oval style of penmanship, developed by Platt Rogers Spencer in 1840 in the United States. He instructed his pupils and they in turn taught others, but it was slow in spreading. Not until after his death in 1864, did his sons really push for this handwriting style to be used in all schools, making it the only accepted standard form. So our great great grandparents, their children, grandchildren and even great grand children learned this style.

It was very popular and successful because it was elegant, stylist yet fairly easy to write and readable, a most important aspect. Even today some traditional iconic signs for different businesses still use the Spencerian Script. Two excellent examples you see everyday are the Ford Motor Co. logo and the Coca-Cola signature brand mark.

Whenever you review over some of your ancestor’s documents, records, letters and journals, look for this style of elegant writing. The use of Spencerian Script was known during the ‘golden age of ornamental penmanship’.

The Palmer Method of handwriting eventually replaced much of the instruction in Spencerian writing. This method started by Austin Palmer at the turn of the 20th century was even simpler to write and was especiallypromoted in the elementary grades. It was a cursive writing with a rhythmic movement of fingers along with the arm and shoulder. Even this style was replaced with a handwriting style using more block letters-printing to be taught school children before any style of cursive.

With the typewriter decades ago, then computers, cursive handwriting has become a lost art form.

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