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September 05, 2012


Mary Jo Groppe

How well I remember struggling with push-pulls and ovals as we were taught the Palmer method! Due to the efforts of my very determined Auntie, I was tested and then promoted into 3rd grade, thus "skipping" second. The only trouble that I remember about that move was that the 3rd graders already knew how to write with pens and ink! So not only did I have to put up with having my pigtails dipped into the inkwell of the boy who sat behind me, but I was very much behind my new classmates who already had mastery of metal pen nibs. Eventually I caught on, but it was probably the hardest thing about 3rd grade for me. Still, I love real handwriting...

Pam Marsh

I would dearly love to improve my handwriting! I would do a correspondence course for handwriting (pun intended) in a heartbeat. What an awesome thing to teach and learn. This has been one of the most fascinating "Well Reads" I can remember :)

My father and I both love pens and writing implements, especially Levenger's, and we have often remarked that our handwriting is not what we would wish it would be. I just want to be able to do justice to the beautiful pens I get from you :)


I so hope you are correct in your thinking that handwriting will come back. I know for a fact that it is no longer part of the elementary curriculum in Missouri, and hear the laments of friends who must print any letters to their grandchildren, for they cannot read cursive writing. (These are usually letters sent to camp, the one venue that hasn't embraced the digital age!)
I do think you are correct about the discipline of learning cursive writing--being left handed, I struggled with it as a child but I think it was my artistic leanings that made me determined to master it. (Although I must confess I was in my fifties before I finally mastered the upper case G, and still want to put the loop on the wrong side!) I frequently hear comments about how lovely my writing is "for a left handed person," and it has made me think that perhaps there should have been different instructions for those of us who are left handed--I wonder if there were any in the handwriting curriculums you refer to, and if it would have made it any easier for those of us whose hands couldn't move in the prescribed motions.
Your speech also brought back fond memories of my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Kinsella, who not only insisted on cursive writing, but also on fountain pens--instilling a love for them I have to this day. Better tool, better result!

Robert Ferguson

Handwriting is accomplished by a sentient being's manipulation of a writing instrument. An iPad or any other electronic device is dependent upon a battery. If there occurs a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) from our Sun, which is a possibility in the near future, the operation of such electronics could be compromised. It's nice to have the technology of iPads, but to become dependent on them could bring us unintended consequences. I, for one have grown up before much of the electronic accomplishments were even a glimmer in the minds of their inventors. I use some of them, but I do not depend on them. My handwriting is not very good, however, so I, too, print and I keep several pens handy, just in case I need them.

Ward Stutz

I love the quote by Michael Sull in your last photograph, not to mention the beautiful handwriting. I would love to see that on a Levenger card that could be purchased.

Thanks for the great story!

Ward Stutz

Pat Bielecki

Yes, I have 2 laptops, a desktop PC, a smartphone, an iPod, a Motorola Zoom, and am planning on getting an iPad-- But I still enjoy picking up my fountain pen (a Parker that I received for my 50th birthday) or a smooth-writing roller ball (Levenger is my favorite, with an extra fine point) or even a ballpoint, and writING with a flourish! My 10- year-old grandaughter also enjoys watching me write and even practice calligraphy as well. It gives me pleasure to form words, letters, sentences, etc. with a pen, by my own hand.

Elizabeth Sproul

My high school diploma has my name done in Spencerian Script. I knew the man who wrote those names for years in our small town in Kansas. I write many notes for many occasions now. I try to keep my handwriting in good order. I use some of the new equipment these days, still notes hand written. I am 76.

Tonya Woodbridge

Yesterday afternoon I had decided to pull out my Spencerian copy books and practice my skills for two reasons. First, a broken elbow had altered my pen grip and I have not been happy with my penmanship since and second, the task of addressing wedding invitations with that same handwriting with which I was unhappy. I knew I needed the practice, and thus on my lunch hour, the copybook came out. Later that night, I saw your article on Mr. Spencer and laughed at the coincidence.

Spencerian script is not dead. I, along with several friends, still practice it and send letters to each other. It takes a little more time than email or texting, but some things are worth that little bit extra. I may even plan a trip with those friends to see the monument that has been raised in his honor.

Bill Keen

Ah, how well I remember the circles and other penmanship practices during writing classes. My penmanship was always difficult to read. I even had trouble at times reading my own handwriting.
When I receive a letter from my relatives in England, I really have difficulty in deciphering their letters. For me, printing helps a lot but I really am trying to improve my handwriting. I do find that there are several types of ball point pens that seem to flow and help me write better. When I find one, I buy several but when I go back to get a replacement I can never seem to find the one I like.
I just stumbled upon another feature of my Android phone... I can just speak into it and it automatically types...Pretty soon, we will not have to even think.. it will all be done for us..

Vickie Ranz

Thanks for sharing that with us. The short history lesson is always interesting. The pictures that go along with it enrich the experience.

My current handwriting is not bad. It's even better when I slow down a bit. I'd have to say that's thanks to my mother, whom I remember spending hours with me as I learned to write incursive, erasing my papers and making me write everything all over again until it met with her satisfaction. It was an experience my other two sisters also had.

Not too long ago, I saw that same behavior from my mother again as she sat with her youngest grandson working with him on writing, erasing everything he'd done and saying "do it again, but this time neater." I had to smile in understanding at his wails of protest. He will be thankful for the time spent later in life if he keeps up her standards of penmanship. In some homes penmanship is still important and can't be replaced with typewritten words issuing forth from a printer.

Even though I wrote at the top of my comment that my penmanship is not bad, I still think one day I'll take up the task of improving it. When I do, unlike you, I'll have to search around for a good instruction book.

To have your grandfather's penmanship books on hand is a wonderful thing for you. If you ever decide to practice your penmanship, his book will be there for you and his writing samples will be your guide to judge how you match up to his standards.

Joel Millican

I have long kept a paper journal. Once, long ago, someone saw me writing in it and remarked how atrocious my penmanship was. I had to agree and resolved then and there to improve it. For a year I practiced a classic italic script every night using a Sailor fountain pen with a music nib. My everyday writing is now based on that classic italic font. Recently I have been pondering teaching myself a classic script, so seeing this post was most timely. I love the challenge, and the only reason I hesitate is alluded to above: in a hundred years hence will anyone other than a scholar be able to read script?


Wow, very interesting article. I wrote months back about the lost art of handwriting and how I think our children are missing out. You can read it here http://organizingguru.hubpages.com/hub/The-Lost-Art-of-Handwriting. I would love to read more about this guy and handwriting. I think we should at least for a second put down our iPads and laptops and write before we forget how. Thanks for sharing.

R. Estep

Steve, about that bicycle and train question...
sorry, I couldn't resist...
One thing I "do" like about today's letters, that's the emoticons we use, i.e.
:-) and LOL or ;-P

R. Estep

It seems my previous comment did not post. My bad, I think.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you, Steve, for the handwriting article and commend Mr. Michael Sull for his efforts.
Also, I asked about trains being faster than bicycles....(this should make my first post clearer)

Steve Leveen

Ah, thanks for the various and most interesting posts friends. And I should have said that bicycles were the fastest form of *personal* transportation. Thanks for the correction, R. Estep.


I loved the blog as it brought back memories of my red brick elementary school with its rows of wooden desks with inkwells, oak floors and large windows to the ceiling that let the sunlight stream in. It sounds like the 1800's but it was 1950's Denver - I believe the school was built in the late 1890's. We were taught cursive writing, first with pencil and then with a "fill-able" fountain pen. I remember blue finger tips and smudged paper but was delighted when I received a star for my efforts.

Today, I have a MacBook, iPad, iPhone, iPod, plus my office PC, but I still write by hand every day. My colleagues often comment on my writing as I'm making notes during our meetings. Today, handwriting is seen as something of an art, but years ago it was considered a skill as necessary to communication as arithmetic was to managing the household accounts. Everyone learned how to master it.

I believe you are correct that the art of penmanship will return as a new generation discovers the warmth of the personal touch that is the hand written note, or the hand made gift.

Thanks to Levenger, we have a source of fine writing materials to keep the art alive!

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