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9/13/2016 PracticalChancerycursive(Italic)writingIntroduction

PRACTICALCHANCERYCURSIVE(ITALIC)WRITING

INTRODUCTION

Lastupdated:10July2016

I have always strived to render beautiful and elegant writing of small size <3mm (<1/8")
minusculeletterbodyheightthatcanberenderedwithcomfortandeaseineverydayuse.


FreelyrenderedChancerycursive(Italic)writing

TherearetwodifferentChancerywritinghands:Cancellarescacorsiva(Chancerycursivewhich
is featured on these pages) wherein the minuscule ascenders and descenders are quite
generous and kerned with the Majuscule letterforms usually being flourished or swashed, and
Cancellarescaformatawhichfeatures minuscule letterforms with slightly shorter ascenders&
descenders that are serifed rather than kerned and with somewhat more austere Roman
Majuscules.

As a young Calligraphy student (1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, northern England) I was initially
tutoredinrenderingallwritingusingsquarecutchiseledgedsteelnibpensthatcamewithsmall
metalreservoirsinstalled(occasionallyhandcutgoosequillswithhomemademetalreservoirs).
Later, when I became interested in Chancery cursive writing, I began using edged nib fountain
pens with modified iridium tipped nibs or square cut chisel edged nibs and bottled ink via
converters.

Myearlyreferenceswere:

"Abookofscripts"byAlfredFairbank
"ThefirstWritingBookArrighi'sOperina"byJohnHowardBenson.
"ThreeClassicsofItalianCalligraphy(Arrighi,Tagliente,Palatino)",OscarOgg

IbasedmyItalicwritingatthattimeonthewritinghandsofthoseItalianRenaissancemasters.

Onedaysometimeinthe1980sIwasperusingtheshelvesofalocalusedbookstorewhenI
cameacrossthefollowingtitle:

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9/13/2016 PracticalChancerycursive(Italic)writingIntroduction

ExampleofmyownItalicwritingbased
onthatofCataneo

Ihadnotseenthisbookmentionedinanyofmyreferences,butwhenIleafedthroughitIwas
immediately struck by the beauty and elegance of Cataneo's exquisite Chancery cursive hand
andsubsequentlybasedmostmyofminusculeletterformsonhis.Ido,however,stilladmireand
usemyadaptationsoftheminusculesandMajusculesofArrighi.

BennardinoCataneowasWritingMaster(maestrodiscrivere)attheUniversityofSiena,Italy,
c.15441560.Theonlyknownsurvivingexemplarsofhiswritingarethepagesinthiscopybook,
dated4February1545,whichhasbeenpublishedinfacsimilewithexplanatorynotesbyStephen
Harvard,theeminentcalligrapheranddesigner.

IdonotusetheMajusculeletterformsofCataneo,preferringinsteadmyownadaptationsofthe
MajusculesofotherRenaissanceMastersespeciallythoseofArrighiandsomeofmyown
developments.Similarly,IuseclassicRomancapitals(Monumentaliscapitalis)and humanistic
small Roman writing (lettera antica) for my supplemental writing hands (headers, emphasized
text,gloss,etc.)insteadofthesometimesstylizedletterformsofCataneo.

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9/13/2016 PracticalChancerycursive(Italic)writingIntroduction

I have employed this style of minuscule writing for the past few years to write most of my
correspondenceandnotes.ThesedaysIuseaManuscriptbrandfountainpenwithanextrafine
nib(which produces approx. <3mm {<1/8"} high minuscule letter forms) and Waterman bottled
fountain pen ink (via converters) on plain Rhodia paper (or Strathmore series 400 2ply Bristol
board)whichllayoutusing.5mmleadpencilbaselines(only)at3/8"(10mm)linespacing.

DevelopingItalicwritingskills

In developing or adapting any writing hand it is important to first concentrate on producing well
formedletters,bothmajuscules(Capitalsoruppercase)andminuscules(smallorlowercase),
with precision and consistency the essential forms of the letters as Edward Johnston
expressedit.Youcannotdeviatetoomuchfromthebasicletterformsthatthegeneralpopulation
is familiar with without degrading legibility. Individual style is incorporated after the basic
letterformshavebeenwelllearned.Again,thegoalistoproducefinelycraftedletterformsthatcan
beconsistentlyrenderedatanacceptablewritingspeed.Theletterformsmaynotbeasprettyas
when written slowly and deliberately, but they will still possess a basic loveliness and be
eminentlyreadable.

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9/13/2016 PracticalChancerycursive(Italic)writingIntroduction

Beginners should not be put off by comparisons of their own freely rendered letterforms to
exemplars depicted in books by experienced calligraphers those are usually rendered with
great deliberation and care under the most favorable conditions (and often after several less
perfectrenditionshavebeenconsignedtothewastebasket)usingreservoiredsteelnibbedpens
or even hand cut quills on best quality paper or sometimes calfskin vellum or split sheepskin
parchment.Theexemplars of Chancery cursive writing by Renaissance Masters were usually
rendered on vellum or parchment using painstakingly cut quills. The letterforms in these
exemplars are naturally much crisper and the flourishes more sweeping than can be
achievedusingfountainpensoneverydaywritingpaper.

Ithinkitisadelightfulandsatisfyingexperiencetowriteonpaperusingpenandink.Thedelightis
increasedathousandfoldifyourwritingpossessesthequalitiesofbeauty,eleganceandclarity.

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9/13/2016 PracticalChancerycursive(Italic)writingIntroduction

ExemplarshowingmycurrenteverydaywritingincludingswashMajuscules

References:

TheFirstWritingBook,Arrighi'sOperina
byJohnHowardBenson,YaleUniversityPress,NewHaven

Abookofscripts
byAlfredFairbank,FaberandFaber,London
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9/13/2016 PracticalChancerycursive(Italic)writingIntroduction

AnItalicCopybook
TheCataneoManuscript
byStephenHarvard,TaplingerPublishingCo.Inc.,NewYork,N.Y.

MastersoftheItalicLetter
TwentyTwoExemplarsfromtheSixteenthCentury
byKathrynA.Atkins,DavidR.Godine,PublisherInc.,Boston,Massachusetts

Gotothehomepage

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