Learning Handwriting in the 1950s

John Hancokc's signature
Image credit: By John Hancock (Massachusetts Historical Society) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

January 23rd is National Handwriting Day.

The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association says that:

National Handwriting Day is a chance for all of us to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting.

WIMA sponsors National Handwriting Day every January 23 in conjunction with John Hancock’s birthday. Hancock was the first to sign the American Declaration of Independence and is famous for his large, bold signature.

“Though computers and e-mail play an important role in our lives, nothing will ever replace the sincerity and individualism expressed through the handwritten word,” says David H. Baker, WIMA’s Executive Director.

To celebrate National Handwriting Day here are my experiences of learning handwriting in the 1950s.

At first in school we learnt to write with thick stubby pencils before transferring to thinner pencils at the end of Infants school.

In the Lower Juniors we were taught to write “joined-up” by the simple expedient of copying out “The Lord’s Prayer” every Monday morning into our handwriting exercise books. Moving onto pen and ink was highly anticipated: one of life’s milestones.

image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/pen-history-ink-antique-retro-1035081/
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/pen-history-ink-antique-retro-1035081/

No, not a quill pen. I’m not that old.

The pen we used was a thin wooden stick with a metal holder on one end into which was inserted a metal nib. This was dipped into an inkwell located in the top right corner of the school desk. We had to work out how to load the nib with sufficient ink to write without dripping ink over the desk and the exercise book. No mean feat when you’re only about nine years old. Once that hurdle was overcome the next step was to learn how to write without splattering the page or making smudges.

pen and ink
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/paper-ink-pen-school-welcome-156843/

As a left handed person it was almost impossible to write without smudging because the left-right orientation of English means that the left hander has no option but to drag their hand over the wet writing unless an alternative technique was evolved. Mine was to push forward into the paper although some left handers twist their hand round and write over the top of the line.

My early efforts at joined up writing in ink were fairly disastrous despite my best efforts but salvation was at hand. In the next class our enlightened teacher allowed us to bring from home a fountain pen if we had one. For Christmas I received an Osmiroid fountain pen with a dark blue marbled effect barrel. It also had a special nib designed for left-handers which made writing with ink a lot easier.

letter-761653_1280
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/letter-handwriting-ink-pen-written-761653/

I’ve tried throughout my life to have neat and legible handwriting but haven’t always succeeded. I was pleased when word processors were invented and became readily available.

I still handwrite shopping lists, my daily diary and my To Do notebook. No-one else reads them so they are virtually illegible except to me. I find that if I’ve handwritten something I remember it better. I always handwrite ideas and jottings if I want to remember them although I never reach the soaring heights of G.B. Shaw:

“the beauty and nobility, the august mission and destiny, of human handwriting.” (Pygmalion –  George Bernard Shaw)

If you want to learn more about handwriting and how to improve it, I suggest a  visit to the website of the National Handwriting Association. A fine way to celebrate National Handwriting Day.

Thanks for reading my blogpost today. If you’re interested in more of my memories from the 1950s you might enjoy my ebook Cabbage and Semolina available for Kindle and Kindle App. And if you’ve a few more seconds to spare, please check out my website Spurwing Ebooks where there’s information about all our books.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Learning Handwriting in the 1950s

  1. Delightful post! I remember those stubby little pencils too.
    We’d go up to the front and sharpen them with the stanley blade kept on teacher’s desk. One boy’s mother complained that it was too dangerous for her little moppet. Boy, did he get the mickey taken out of him.

    Like

    1. Yes, and the blade wasn’t retractable – one of those so-called craft knives. You’ve reminded me of those electric pencil sharpeners which if you weren’t careful would eat up the whole pencil. Oh, happy days! Thanks for reading my blog and leaving a comment.

      Like

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