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Robert Williams on...

6.08 Writing Manuals, paragraph 2

This certainly highlights the difficulty of the perpetual problem of dating printed writing books. I think that the 1522 date in “La Operina” refers to when Arrighi originally prepared his manuscript. Not only does Osley date it later but so does Stanley Morison. In his “Early Italian Writing-Books,” edited by Nicolas Barker (1990), chapter 3 focuses on the publication date of “La Operina.” Morison/Barker suggest it was probably printed in the first half of 1524. As you know, in 1525 the book’s engraver, Ugo da Carpi, sued for the right to publish his edition. Morison/Barker raise the obvious question: if the book was published in 1522 why did Da Carpi wait 3 years to sue? They offer other substantial evidence as well.

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Posted December 7, 2012  10:20 am
6.10 Down-Market Handwriting Books, paragraph 1

One example of a souvenir calligraphic manuscript copybook produced for the tourist trade is the Bernardino Cataneo Manuscript (Houghton MS Typ 246) acquired from the scribe by “Signor Odoardo Ralyg Gentilhuomo Inglese” in 1545. Cataneo, who did not publish any known writing book, was a maestro di scrivere at the University at Siena. For further info, see “An Italic Copybook: The Cataneo Manuscript” by Stephen Harvard (N.Y.: Taplinger, 1981)

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Posted April 21, 2009  10:16 am
0.03 Some Perils of Generalization, paragraph 6

To SGaylard’s list I would also add page height & width.

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Posted April 21, 2009  9:30 am
7.10 Breaking the Rules, paragraph 2

You might want to add Giovambattista Palatino’s “Libro nuove d’imparare a scrivere tute sorte lettere” (Rome, 1540) to this category. In it, Palatino includes both an author’s portrait on the title page and an emblem on the last page. The emblem of a moth in a candle flame with a motto taken from Petrarch: “Et so ben ch’io vo dietro a quel che m’arde” does not seem to relate to the book but perhaps the author’s personality.

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Posted March 29, 2009  1:29 pm
6.20 Conclusion: Into the Future, paragraph 5

With handwriting, vernacular seems to have been the norm from the very beginning. I know of only one writing manual in the 16th century with instructions in Latin: Mercator’s “Literarum latinarum” of 1541, although many writing manuals & copybooks included passages in Latin. This was due to a convention of writing certain languages in certain hands which, in turn probably produced more work for writing teachers.

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Posted March 29, 2009  12:36 pm
6.19 Professionals or Amateurs?, paragraph 1

This approach almost seems a commonplace in printed instruction books of the 16th century: “brief & easy,” and “most useful and necessary” pop up again and again in writing manual titles.

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Posted March 29, 2009  12:24 pm
6.08 Writing Manuals, paragraph 1, replying to Paul F. Gehl

The 1539 manuscript autobiography is by Bernardino Spina, Houghton f MS Typ. 167. Journal publications on it:
J. Wardrop in Harvard Library Bulletin 7 (1953): 224-5.
Illuminated and calligraphic manuscripts (1955), no. 123.

Thanks, Bob. It would be useful to readers at this point to have the Houghton number here.

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Posted March 26, 2009  1:28 pm
1.09 Octavo and Smaller Formats, paragraph 2

Is hanging the character names another Aldine innovation? Graphically, it makes it easier to follow the “actors” lines.

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Posted March 26, 2009  12:36 pm
6.09 Advertising a Fine Hand, paragraph 4

The 90-degree rotation of the format of writing books is most interesting from a graphic standpoint. Of course they made it easier to place the book above a blank sheet on which exercises were to be copied, but they also physically set writing books at odds with the usual vertical format of all other types of books (except, perhaps, music books) literally making them stand out.

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Posted March 26, 2009  11:58 am
6.09 Advertising a Fine Hand, paragraph 3

It would be interesting to know when “teach yourself to play an instrument/sing” manuals came on the scene. They, too, seemed to be marketed to a general public.

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Posted March 26, 2009  11:53 am
6.08 Writing Manuals, paragraph 4

The earliest manuscript I know of on learning to write cancellaresca was made around 1465-77 by a monk, Johannes Franciscus Preottonus of Pavia (Library of Congress, Music Division ML171.J6, fols. 129–130). In it, he gives step-by-step instructions on making minuscule “cazelarescha” (not the 16th-century style). These instructions appear in a collection on music theory, and may have been copied from another source.

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Posted March 26, 2009  11:39 am
6.08 Writing Manuals, paragraph 2

Arrighi mentions in his introduction that he couldn’t provide enough manuscript examples to satisfy demand. Perhaps a marketing ploy, but I suspect just as the 20th century produced printed writing manuals by calligraphers to satisfy a desire, so also did 16th century authors.

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Posted March 26, 2009  11:29 am
6.08 Writing Manuals, paragraph 1

Additional support for teaching by personal demonstration can be found in a 16th-century Italian calligraphic diary in the Houghton. The author mentions Arrighi’s writing school in Rome. I can hunt down the call number if you like.

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Posted March 26, 2009  11:26 am