Thursday, May 09, 2013

Zanerian Alphabets

The original penwork alphabet designs below are from 
the Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection, donated to the 
Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Memorial Library at  
the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2010.

"The Weinberg Memorial Library houses the Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection, which is one of the most extensive collections of American ornamental penmanship from the late 19th and early 20th centuries." [..]

The company was founded in 1888 by Charles P. Zaner as the Zanerian School of Penmanship. Elmer W. Bloser purchased a share of the company in 1891 and in 1895 the school changed its name to the Zaner-Bloser Company. Zaner-Bloser Inc. [..]

Originally, the school prepared students for careers as penmen. Penmen often worked in business, preparing ledgers, writing correspondence and creating documents before the invention of the typewriter. Zaner-Bloser also taught students to become teachers of penmanship, illustrators and engravers, as well as engrossers, who employ the type of ornamental writing used for diplomas and certificates. During the 20th century Zaner-Bloser concentrated on the education market providing manuals, teaching aids, and other materials for elementary schools. [source]

'The company began publishing its own penmanship manuals. As the company history states: "In 1904, Zaner-Bloser published The Zaner Method of Arm Movement, a landmark text that taught the simplified style of writing learned by students at the Zanerian to children in elementary schools all over the United States. This book also applied the findings of psychologists who had discovered that young children completed manual tasks more easily if allowed to use the large arm movements that were natural to them at their early stage of motor skills development." ' [source]

Zaner album of alphabet designs - Medieval Ornament
Medieval Ornament alphabet

Zaner-Bloser collection original alphabet - Broad Pen Medieval or Church Text
Modernised Broad Pen Medieval and Church Text alphabet

Old English alphabet from Zaner-Bloser Penmanship collection
Old English alphabet

original ink design sketch of Ornamental Egyptian alphabet
Ornamental Egyptian alphabet

Zanerian typeform, early 20th century - Ornamented Semi-Script
Ornamented Semi-Script alphabet

ink design of writings script - Ornate Roman
Ornate Roman alphabet

original ink drawing of penmanship alphabet - Broad-pen Roman
Broad-pen Roman alphabet

Penmanship alphabet example - Round Letter
Round Letter alphabet

Zaner design for penmanship manual -- Semi-Round Letters
Semi-Round Letters alphabet

original ink sketch of Aesthetic Text alphabet
Aesthetic Text alphabet

Penmanship publication design - Block Ornament
Block Ornament alphabet

alphabet design in pen and ink of Italian Square Top alphabet
Italian Square Top alphabet

Light Line Block Marking or Skeleton typeform
Light Line Block Marking or Skeleton alphabet

Zaner-Blosen penmanship collection example design - Single Line Centre  or Sickles (U Scranton, Pennsylvania)
Single Line Centre or Sickles alphabet

Applied Lettering of Proportional Modification
Applied Lettering of Proportion Modification

The Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection at the (Jesuit) University of Scranton

More specifically, the images above were selected from the 1900 and 1910 editions of 'The New Zanerian Alphabets'. So far, only a small amount of the Weinberg Memorial Library collection has been posted online. The image files available on the site are very large (~6000px or more on the long side) but image focus is a significant issue. I reduced the image sizes by about two thirds for display here.

Previous related posts on BibliOdyssey -- (the 'general' tag of) calligraphy.


MrCachet said...

You got my attention with this one. Thanks!

Sharmon Davidson said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful calligraphy letter samples. The typefaces are beautiful! I had no idea how Zaner-Bloser started, but I'm old enough to remember using the Z-B books to learn cursive writing in elementary school.

Unknown said...

I think these lettering samples go to show "There's nothing new under the sun." So many of the hand lettering alphabets being "created" today are rehashes of these.

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