Lecture: English Roundhand - Part 1 & 2

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Where did it start, how did it change, what did it influence.

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This is a 2 part lecture on 22nd June & 6th July from 7:00pm-10:00pm GMT (UK, London Time) daily.

Part 1

The beginning of the 1600’s brought a dramatic development of an amazing script which came to be known as ‘The English Roundhand’, a stark contrast to the Bastard Secretary Hand used in England in the previous century.

What precipitated this shift in script and why was it so dramatic moving from a broad edged nib to a pointed nib in a matter of decades? Apart from this displacement of script, there was also the rise of the English Writing Master and this led to a veritable explosion in not only the amount of writing but also the variety of the letterforms used to write the script as Masters sought to out-do each other and their copybooks with more differenced letterforms and virtuoso flourishing.

In ‘Part 1’ we will look at the script from 1600 through to 1850 and examine the dramatic differences we see in the use of the script for charters, deeds and formal documents to what we see on the docks and in the counting houses.

In my research on this script, which began in 1999, I cannot tell you all the shocking discoveries I have come across, in letter shape, angle and execution. But it was really in the Lockdown of 2020 that I started to delve deeper into the magnificence of what this hand has given us, and a whole world of magic opened up to me which I am keen to share with you.

Come join me on a real journey of discovery and wonder with a little-known script easily confused with Copperplate.

Part 2

I make a cut off at 1850 as this is when pointed flexible metal nibs become widely available and, in my mind, this is where the script really changes character and is more akin to the shapes an engraver’s burin can produce. It is also the main reason I call the script I wrote my manual on ‘Copperplate’ as it was executed using a pointed flexible metal nib and not a quill.

We see a dramatic shift in letter shape as well as contrast with the ability to produce finer hairlines and heavy shades. The script then found its way to the United States of America, evolved based on the way it was executed, namely with an oblique holder which allowed for the development of both Engravers and Engrossers Scripts. We also see the development of Zanerian Copperplate out of Spencerian Script written with an oblique holder.

This period also brought with it a considerable boost in literacy and the practise of handwriting. Such an explosion by those using the script to write a practised hand paled in comparison to those not so practised proving Malcolm Parkes’ ‘letters evolve from the ground up!’ As more people with a less practised hand and a minimum level of literacy attempted the script, so too did a boom occur in letter variants which further exalted the script and its accompanying hands.

With British Mercantile Trade at its peak, both the script and the pointed flexible metal nibs were taken to the far-flung corners of the earth, which led to the nib being used to write non-Latin scripts as exotic such as Chinese, Japanese and Tamil. This also precipitated a shift in different countries writing the script, triggering growth of more hands as well as variant letterforms due to language expansion, notable Cyrillic and Greek Copperplate Script exemplars.

At home, in England, a drive to change the name of English Roundhand was underfoot, as it clashed with Johnston’s Roundhand or Foundational Hand. The underlying reasons for this are more complex and hint at political subterfuge.

This lecture takes up where the first one left off and is filled with intrigue and betrayal. It always breaks my heart talking about the loss of the name ‘the English Roundhand’ but you will see how and why this is done.

All Events are recorded and live on Teachable. Lectures will be available for 2 months . Classes and Workshops will be available for 12 months. Countdown starts from your first time you view the event. All events will be posted 7 working days / business days after the event.

Most events are available for purchase if you miss the live event.

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YOU MUST TRIPLE CHECK YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, it is the only way for us to contact you and this is where we will send the Zoom link to. If it is wrong, we will not be able to contact you to send you the link.

For all classes and workshops, you will be required to watch and study videos on posture, placement of page and position of the hand, as well as the death grip and studio set up. You will get these links when you sign up.

Please purchase your tools and materials well in advance of the course so you can at least test them out and familiarise yourself with them.

Please do some practise before attending the class at least some exercises to limber up your hand. Coming to class without any practise in the week of the class will only be a disservice to yourself.

Most events are for all levels, if it is not suitable for beginners you will be made aware of this. This does not mean beginners will not benefit but they will find it difficult to keep up with what is being taught.

Lectures are for all levels as well as for non-calligraphers.

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Organiser Paul Antonio Scribe

Organiser of Lecture: English Roundhand - Part 1 & 2

Paul Antonio is the author of 'Copperplate Script - A Yin&Yang Approach'. A new and innovative way to look at and learn to write copperplate script. This new method simplifies the approach so anyone can learn the script. 

Paul's research into the geometry of writing has led him to a new vision of how we put pen to paper. This research is so exciting as it gives the participant access to quicker learning and application of calligraphy. 

Being passionate about lettering history, Paul has worked on copying Ancient Hieroglyphs in Egypt for the MET, NYC and is one of the four Crown Office Scribes who handwrites some of the laws of the UK unto vellum for signing by Her Majesty The Queen. He also studied English Palaeography and Manuscript History.



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