Paul Standard

"Here we have Arrighi’s most devoted and scholarly advocate. At Cooper Union and New York University, Standard taught the pure, straight stuff, both as to the mechanics of pen management and to legitimate variations of the Italian renaissance hands. Basics came before personal frills. His dedication to teaching and research left the exploitation of beautiful writing to others. Paul was friend and consultant to designers without every quite becoming one of them. His gutty, uninhibited italic could have forged a papal bull or a canto from Dante with convincing aplomb. Standard’s personal correspondence (always in sepia ink) with fellow calligraphiles was as worldwide as the reading of his published writing. As a persuasive crusader for the reform of everyday penmanship (excoriating the Palmer method of public schools), Paul drew favorable attention but few converts. Because of his perceptive insights into alphabet history from Phoenician script to twentieth-century typefounding, his authority was unchallenged. He delights in a stubborn anachronism that charms all who are privileged to know him."

--Charles Skaggs
Operina - inside pages

The First Writing Book:

an English translation & facsimile text of Arrighi’s OPERINA, the first manual of the Chancery hand; New Haven: Yale University Press;
London: Oxford University Press, 1955

John Howard Benson, born in 1901, attended public schools in Newport, Rhode Island, and studied for five years at the Art Students League in New York. He took no formal courses in lettering, but designed some bookplates, title-pages, and other layouts. When a friend gave him Edward Johnston’s Writing & Illuminating, & Lettering he became devoted to the creation of beautiful letters, both in pen and ink and later by cutting letters in stone with mallet and chisel.

Starting in the 1930s in the United States there was an interest in the reform of handwriting and a revival of the practice of italic handwriting. John Howard Benson translated the sixteenth-century writing manual of Ludovico degli Arrighi, which has historical and practical interest. Arrighi’s instructions for the formation of letters and the technique of writing are still basic models for modern italic handwriting.

Writing & Illuminating,
& Lettering

Edward Johnston, With diagrams and illustrations by the author and Noel Rooke
New York and Chicago: Pitman Publishing, 1945

In the late 1890s Edward Johnston became interested in the burgeoning English Arts & Crafts Movement, led by such notables as William Morris and W.R. Lethaby. Johnston’s interest in manuscript illumination and writing led him to study early sources at the British Museum to develop an historically-based calligraphic style. Johnston was in great part responsible for the revival, practice, and teaching of the almost lost heritage of medieval scribes. Charles Skaggs wrote in 1984 that Johnston and others, including Eric Gill and Alfred Fairbank, “helped to revitalize British consciousness of new typefaces and letterforms.”

Writing & Illuminating, & Lettering - inside page
Johnston intended this book for the use of both professional letterers and students. Johnston presents the development of handwriting and how to acquire a “formal hand,” as well as dealing with the forms and uses of good lettering.

Charles Skaggs started to assemble a fine working library early in his career. He purchased this book in 1948; the invoice from well-known New York rare book dealer Philip C. Duschnes also is shown here.

Calligraphy's Flowering, Decay, and Restauration - inside pages

Calligraphy's Flowering, Decay, and Restauration

Paul Standard
Chicago: Society of Typographic Arts, 1947

Calligraphic scholar and practitioner Paul Standard refers to Arrighi’s sixteenth-century manual of the italic hand in his book, but illustrates the text almost entirely with examples of calli-graphers working in the 1940s.

Standard shows how Arrighi’s methods and forms serve well for modern lettering needs. The lettering shown here is by George Salter, Joseph Carter, and Ray DaBoll, but the text mentions publisher Alfred A. Knopf’s use of book artists, including W.A. Dwiggins, the mentor of Charles Skaggs. Dwiggins’ designs are displayed here.

This book is inscribed to Charles Skaggs: “Presented to Calligraphile CHARLES SKAGGS with the high regard of his fellow-Calligraphile RAY DABOLL June, 1948.” Raymond DaBoll designed this book and “calligraphed” the marginal notes throughout.

Letter--Paul Standard to Charles SkaggsPaul Standard wrote a long letter to Charles Skaggs on December 17, 1984, in reponse to Skaggs’ article on calligraphy in Fine Print in October 1984. Standard begins his comments about the article: “For me it was—& will long remain—the most perceptive short account of a seminal period in U.S. calligraphy’s coming-of-age; and your powers of individual description (and assessment) will command universal respect among all practitioners.”

Letter--Paul Standard to Barbara BorensteinPaul Standard visited Smith College in 1972 to speak with calligraphy students taught by Elliot Offner. Each student wrote him a letter, which he graciously returned with calligraphic comments and suggestions for improvement. The letter written by Barbara Borenstein (Blumenthal), class of 1975, is shown here, on loan.

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