Sunday, January 26, 2014 and some fun stuff..

During the recent handwriting week.  I had a swap that involved utilizing a dip pen.  While I gave a set away last month, I had never broken out the set I bought for Kim and made use of it.  Here was my chance.

Made some interesting observations.  Nibs can be ALL OVER THE PLACE.  The sizes, reactions feel are totally different than that of the regular fountain pens I have been using.  I also noticed that "hey, the ink runs out a lot".  Herein lies the DUH moment of writing a 5 page letter with something you have to continually be dipping into a bottle of ink.  I only have 3 bottles on have and 8 nibs and I went through all of them.

This now has me interested in furthering my use of the dip/scratch method as I have been referring to it.

While checking this out I was looking into bettering my handwriting.  Some say it's nice, but like most we are our own worst critics.  I can do better and want to.  So searching commenced and I found - The International Association of Master Penman, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting.  Here you will find almost everything you could think of in regards to penmanship.

What I found really interesting though was a collection of vintage publications.  One being The Penman's Art Journal.  There are some really interesting articles that pertain to penmanship and letter writing, the teaching of writing in schools (arguments back in the late 1800's).

I plucked one out to let you folks read.  Typed it out so you could read it (time to pull out the glasses).

 The article is about how heads of state are plagued with letters in copious amounts and how they deal with them.  Remember this is from 1879  President Hayes is in office.  Apparently there is a man from Vermont who would like to join the President's family in their home.

Letter Writing, How it may Become a Plague and a Nuisance.

The most bored of all letter receivers - The President of the united states and his correspondents.

Heads of States are not by any means exempt  from one of the plagues by which ordinary mortals are in the present day so much tormented.  Letters are delivered in the most exalted places.  Indeed, the postman knocks much more frequently at palaces than at the cottages of the poor.  In a trustworthy French chronicle of the German occupation of Versailles it it set forth that one of the daily tasks of the King of Prussia consisted in reading and annotating the numerous letters of entreaty, remonstrance, reproach and often of insult directed to him from all parts of invaded France.  In one epistle from Strasburg he was styled “Sire Rombenduer,”  aud was threatened with divine vengeance for having caused so many fine buildings and so many unfortunate inhabitants in the capital of Alsace to be destroyed by the fire of artillery.  In a communication of a more argumentative character he was asked why, after declaring that he made war against the Emperor Napoleon, he still persisted in making war when Napoleon had fallen into his hands as a prisoner an inquiry which his Majesty answered by writing on the margin of the letter, “Je Ne L’ai jamais fit.”  A third correspondent, better acquainted with the English language than with the rides of politeness, describes the venerable monarch on the superscription of his envelopes as “Old rascal.”  What was most astonishing in the matter was not that so many letters were forwarded to the Prussian King as that he should have taken the trouble to read them, and even to note down so many of them materials for a reply.  But for one who possesses a genius for work no sort of labor that lies within the sphere of his duty is took insignificant; and the Emperor William is by no means the only ruler who makes a point not only of reading all the letters addressed to him, but in many cases of answering them.

A country of correspondence.

There are hut few if any countries in which more letters are posted than in the United States of America: and it is asserted by a Washington journal, which is in all probability well informed on the subject, that the President of the United States “receives more letters a day than any other individual in the nation.”  Every mail brings him a large batch.  The letters too, are upon every conceivable subject.  The published extracts from the correspondence addressed from various parts of France to the Emperor Williams at Versailles seem to show that no one wrote to the chief of the Prussian armies on any subject but that which was, as a matter of course, occupying at the moment the heart of every Frenchman.  The writers however, who pester President Hayes with their effusions are far from confining themselves to any one topic.  Invitations, criticisms on State policy, theories of government, requests for pecuniary aid, petitions for office, good wishes and sound advice find expression in the innumerable missives received daily by the head of the American republic.  Many innocent minded persons send their photographs and a few of the photograph senders do not content themselves with enclosing their own counterfeit presentment,” but wish to know what the President thinks of the likeness.  Others are troubled with second thoughts. and, posting the first photographic impression, write in haste to beg that it may be placed in the President’s album by a more successful prig, which is duly transmitted.  A gentleman from Vermont, whose werits, as set forth by himself, consist in his having lived seventy-four years, during which lengthened period “he has worked hard and zealously cherished the public welfare,” wrote some time since to the President, informing him of a desire he had ling entertained, and now proposed to gratify, of taking up his residence in the midst of the Presidential family.  Having arrived in Washington, he had now, he observed, an opportunity for carrying out his cherished design, “unless some unusual Providence prevented.  Providence, in the shape of foresight, as exercised by the wise President, did naturally prevent.  In vain did the gentleman from Vermont protest that he was a “strictly temperate man,” and that he “entertained great aversion to the hotels.”  In vain did he plead that his object is pressing his request was not economy, but a sincere wish to express to the President, in friendly and personal intercourse, the admiration he felt for the course of conduct he had hitherto pursued.  Thackeray has somewhere said that the surest way of obtaining no invitation is to “ask to be asked.”  But this simple stratagem failed in the case of the Vermonter.  The President remained deaf to his appeal, though he was assured that it proceeded from an “unknown but patriotic citizen,” who would come directly alone, and who was convinced that he could not anywhere else feel “so much at home.”

A London Letter Writer.

Nor is the President troubled by American correspondence alone.  Letters reach him constantly from the other side of the Atlantic, and especially from England.  One of the President’s correspondents, who it it gratifying to hear, signs himself “A Londoner,” calls upon the President, as coif of a “free and humane” government, to issue a proclamation prohibiting under penalty of death the “killing of any of the feathered tribe any dog, or even a rat or a mouse.”  The President ’s London correspondent is apparently as anti-vivisectionist of extreme views.  At first sight he might betaken for a vegetarian. But vegetarianism is opposed above all to the slaughter of cattle; whereas the daring reformer who would make the shooting of partridges a hanging matter, and for every mouse slaughtered would take the life of a man, restricts his sympathy to birds, dogs and the commoner sorts of vermin.  He forgets, however, that the consequences of not, for a time, being killed might in the end prose very injurious, to the protected ones themselves.  A reaction against the movement for allowing birds, dogs, rats and mice to exist unharmed would ultimately set in, and there would be a considerable chance, not, perhaps, that birds or even dogs, but at least the rats and mice would in some summary and comprehensive manner be exterminated: for if animals were no longer destroyed they would multiply to such a point that life would be rendered impossible to human beings.  Long, however, before the state of things could arrive the Londoner and his theories would have disappeared from the world, and meanwhile the unfortunate President of the United States will continue, no doubt, to receive from his indefatigable correspondent suggestions for sacrificing, in accordance with the true fundamental principles of vegetarians and of anti-vivisectionists, man to animals.

That request for pecuniary aid reach the President in large numbers can really
be believed.  But applications of this kind from “unknown but patriotic citizens,” may in most cases be left, without impropriety, unanswered.  The letters chiefly to be dreaded are those which must really in some form or other be replied to; and the President of the United States is not the only person who must feel that the task of reading and answering letters is one which is becoming so severe that in its present shape it can no longer be borne.  The evil, it it true, tends in some measure to remedy itself.  Letters, as they have become more numerous, have at the same time become much shorted than of old.  If a man of business were to answer letters at such length as would at one time have been expected, he would find himself occupied exclusively in letter writing, and would be unable to attend to the subject matter of his correspondence.  With the gradual diminution in the length of letters has taken place.  It is true that idle persons, whom the cost of postage formerly prevented from indulging to frequently in useless correspondence, are now no longer kept back by ignoble fear of expense.  But such letter writers are flourished in the days of Richardson, when the interminable epistles of Clarissa Harlowe and her friend Miss Howe we not thought unreasonably long, are happily no longer to be found; while a Lovelace is at the present day, instead of covering several pages of note paper with ardent protestations, would send telegrams, and profiting by our improved means of communication, visit the object of his pursuit in person.  The introduction of telegraphy has had an important indirect effect in simplifying and shortening correspondence.  It has led to the replacement of long and formal letters by short, informal and sometimes rather abrupt communications in “memorandum” form.  The plague of letter writing, too, has lost some of its virulence through the gradual adoption of post-cards in lieu of letters, and the President of the United States might get rid of some portion, at least, of the burden of letter writing now weighing upon him if he were to make it a rule to answer no correspondents but such as are addressed him in telegrams, and to reply to these by post card alone.  —Pall Mall Gazette.


  1. Wow, what a great discovery. How funny that the last letter mentions telegraphy as the shortening of lengthy letters. We say the same thing about e-mail and text messaging.

  2. There are some great finds in there. I am combing through them when I get a chance and will post some of the more "interesting" ones. Found some Mark Twain references today.

  3. I checked out and downloaded some of the vintage journals. So very cool.

  4. Feel free. And thanks for reading.