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Starting Out Properly

Posted by Dirck on 22 October, 2013

Some long time ago, I made a little noise here about an amendment I’d made in the formation of my capital G, and I’ve been getting Google hits about “Cursive G” ever since (some of which, I assume, are not misguided efforts to discover details of Sacha Baron Cohen’s early career).  I thought I might consider another re-taught capital today, and to do so, I’m going right to the beginning of the alphabet.


Shall I make a “taking myself too literally” pun here?

Well… maybe not right to the beginning, but to the front of it at any rate.  One of the things that bothered me about the cursive hand I learned under the harsh discipline of Mrs. Sipes back in good ol’ Assiniboine School (long since made into a housing development for people whose children have a very long walk to get to school) was that the only difference between the lower- and upper-case was a matter of scale.

A less disasterous Little Boy and Fat Man

A less disastrous Little Boy and Fat Man

I felt, frankly, rather silly with that, and even more so when my writing included things like “Aaron” or “Aachen”.  Not regular inclusions, I’ll grant, but enough to put me off my stride.  There was a patch, after I was out of University and any writing I did had no time limit, when I dabbled with print rather than cursive.  That wasn’t entirely motivated by this A problem, since my father in a magnificent round of “pot calls kettle black” had made me very self-conscious about my writing, but there was an element of relief in making a nice angular A.

The problem with print, at least for me, is that it’s blinkin’ slow.  That’s the whole reason there is cursive.  By degrees, I gave up on print for a second time (the first courtesy Mrs. Sipes and her razor-tongued tuition), and in a mostly unconnected move, got married.  Mostly, as the overt romance began with a letter.

One day, an unconscionable length of time after the marriage, I was reading something my wife had written, and my attention drifted from the content of the message to the medium itself.  “I say,” I said aloud, “that’s a damn handsome way of making an A you’ve got there.”  She had apparently been taught as much by her mother as by her school in this area, and the traditional A of her family looks like this:

The great thing about our house; no one ever complains about a request to use a pen.

The great thing about our house; no one ever complains about a request to use a pen.  This image courtesy my wife and her heap of No Nonsenses.

The big central loop, which brings the pen back for the next letter, may hint at the evolution of the version I object to, but the angle I wanted was right there.  Delightful!  I set to work, in much the same way as with the G, to the task of burning the previous habit out of myself and instilling this new thing in its place.  My wife is rather more careful with her writing than I, which I think might actually be a point of difference generally attributable between the genders, so what I’ve currently got is a little less complete in its presentation.


On to the next letter! No time to tarry!

The failure to close that loop is mainly down to my overall habit of light hands, so the pen starts lifting at what might be thought a premature point.  Impatience is only a tiny element in it.  I’m pretty happy with this, since it gets ever further from the hated Giant Lower Case object that haunted me for so long.  Recently, though, I got something back from a Regular Job client which made me think I may not be quite done with habit reformation…

"I don't got no delta in my name!  Danggummit!"

“I don’t got no delta in my name! Danggummit!”

I don’t honestly recall what the actual word objected to was– this is what we might call an artist’s conception of the response.  Apparently, someone really didn’t like my current A.  Over the weeks since this passed under my nose, it hasn’t exactly been chafing at my imagination, but it occasionally surfaces.  I finally, during a free moment when I could actually consider the matter, hit upon something.  My wife’s family A may be a very long-lived heirloom indeed, because when you think about it, the artistic cursive (and I here reveal my ignorance because I don’t really know if this is technically Copperplate or not) is formed very much the same way.

And the semi-flex pen I had in batter needs more space to show its paces than the rest.

And the semi-flex pen I had in battery needs more space to show its paces than the rest.

A terrible example, but it serves to show the affiliation.  With that in mind, I took the pen of that day, an completely flex-free item, and tried the sinuous shape of this formalized version.  The result was interesting.

It might also be called "attenuated".

It might also be called “attenuated”.

The change in shape of the down-stroke amends the upward loop, which not only makes it easier to close but also compresses it.  I don’t know if my triggering curmudgeon would have any more brief with this than he did the one he corrected, but it lies a little closer to the print A while remaining a single line.  I’m not, I’ll admit, entirely convinced of the need for further amendment nor am I entirely pleased with this somewhat spidery development of the letter, though.  I may stick where I am, and keep this in reserve for special occasions.

Like when I’ve got a flex pen.

Yesterday’s model and today’s pen: Pelikan M600
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green


4 Responses to “Starting Out Properly”

  1. Andrew said

    I’ve been using that “A” for some months now, It is far superior. Also, Thanks for the “G” I shall endeavour to use that as well, again, far superior to the other, lesser, one.

    • Less obscure at very least. The school-taught one looks like an egg-plant the way the Aleph looks like an ox, and I don’t think G has a foundation in Phoenician garden markers.

  2. Biber said

    Your A has some qualities similar to Abraham Lincoln’s: http://www.fonts101.com/fonts/view/Script/62574/A_Lincoln_Font.
    A search will quickly reveal some interesting fonts based on the handwriting of several famous people. Perhaps a lucrative source for cursive letter shopping?

    • Not a bad notion, he said while rubbing his chin in a speculative manner. On Lincoln, his G, N and P are not unlike mine, too… I’d best steer clear of box seats at the theatre.

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