Oh, god. I blame kniedzw. And also the research question that sent me to my bookshelf last night, searching for a book that was not in either of the sections I expected it to be in, so I scanned along the shelf looking for it, and found this instead.
I had completely forgotten that Once Upon an Eon Ago, kniedzw purchased the Spencerian System of Practical Penmanship.
Which is a reproduction of an honest-to-god 1864 system of penmanship instruction. This thing is . . . wow. The theory book starts with “Signals,” which are the cues the teacher should use, “by bell, tap, or by counting, at the teacher’s discretion.” They are as follows:
- Position at Desk.
- Arrange Books.
- Find Copy and adjust Arms.
- Open Inkstands — In double desks the pupils on the left (the pupil’s right) will open and close inkstands.
- Take Pens.
At this point the teacher should pay particular attention to giving instruction in penholding. When ready to write, give the order to TAKE INK.
No, seriously. I have this vivid image of a dank, grim little classroom, the teacher standing stiffly at the front, rows of bows and girls at the desks in uncomfortable suits and dresses, moving like proper little Victorian automata while the teacher rings his bell. Which probably isn’t far off the mark.
The real question, of course, is whether I am going to subject myself to the Spencerian System for the letters from the Onyx Court. I know better than to put this to a popular vote; you all, being not the ones who would suffer through it, will cackle and tell me to doooooo iiiiiiit. And I am so very much not sure it would be worth it. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop myself . . . .
Edited to add: oh my god, it’s even worse than I thought. The instructions for each exercise!
Turn in n, x, and v, at top and base the same, i.e. as short as possible with continuous motion. The x combines Principles 3, 1, 2, 1. The v combines 3, 1, 2, 2. After the combination is written, finish x by beginning at the base line, crossing upward through middle of First Principle, with a straight line, on the same slant with curves, and ending at upper line. Finish v same as w. Count 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, dot 1, cross, cross.
No really, I think the teacher is supposed to be counting out each movement for the students. I am increasingly afraid of this book.