Monday, September 7, 2015

The Joy of Letter Writing

I mentioned in the past [1] that our Plano schools stopped teaching cursive handwriting.  I discovered this when my son was in 7th grade.  I bought a couple of books on cursive handwriting at Mardel's and tried to teach him cursive, but it was too late.  The books on cursive were labeled 3rd or 4th grade and that was not inspiring to a middle school boy.  Then 8th grade was consumed with Algebra 1.  So we succeeded with Algebra while cursive handwriting fell by the wayside.

After receiving very attractive hand written notes from my cousins I decided to bring out the long forgotten cursive penmanship books.  I have been practicing and I can make my report to you now.

Writing a letter to family or friends in nice cursive, with a nice fountain pen on good quality paper is very pleasurable.  The feel of the pen nib gliding on the paper, the smooth, cool feel of the paper under your hand, and the look of your handwriting on the paper is a great experience.  This adds a special dimension to the act of writing a letter.

I can recommend the Goulet Pen Company (  For paper I recommend Clairefontaine Triomphe (A4 Tablet - Blank) with matching envelopes.  There is a smaller size writing pad for notes.  The Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen (Black Plain, Fine nib) is a bargain at $15 (  I use ink cartridges because I don't want to bother with a bottle of ink.  I use the Pilot Namiki black ink cartridges.

When my son is away at college I plan to send nice hand written letters to him.  I once asked my mother why her handwriting was so attractive and she told me she was taught the Palmer method.  The nice handwriting in letters from my mother and cousins have inspired me to improve my handwriting.  Someday letters from me to my son might inspire him to learn cursive.  In the meantime, I am finding the experience of writing letters in cursive on nice paper with a good pen to be very pleasant.

It is unfortunate that I did not know PISD gave up teaching cursive until it was too late to teach my son.  But now you know that 3rd grade is the time to teach your children cursive if that is a skill you want for your children.

I wish the very best for your children.


You might enjoy a related post: The Joy of Sending Cards, August 28, 2016, in Robert Canright's Personal Blog

[1]  Skills & Success; Cursive & Math
Plano Parents blog
May 16, 2011

Notes on cursive material
The book on cursive that I like best is Cursive Writing Grades 3-4 by Carolyn Dywer and Rbin Boyer (2004, isbn 9781589473980).  It has a lot of the Palmer letters, but is still a simplified Palmer style.  What I like best about the Dywer book is that the first couple of pages have the entire alphabet, capital and lower case, that I can use as reference because I am still learning.

Below is an example of the Palmer alphabet.  It is a little more elaborate that the script in the Carolyn Dywer book.  Click on the image to see it enlarge.

The more common cursive style is called D'Nealian, shown below
Another source of penmanship books is the Zaner-Bloser Company ( They call their style the Zanerian writing style.  To me it looks like the D'Nealian style.

If you look at the signature of Abraham Lincoln you can see that the capital A is not from Palmer or D'Nealian.  It is from the Spencerian style.  Lincoln's signature is below.  My plan is to use the Palmer style, but adopt the Spencerian capital A that President Lincoln used.  Finally, I will mention that the cursive style used in the American Declaration of Independence is called Copperplate.
Here is a review of the Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen by Brian Goulet of the Goulet Pen Company.  On You Tube:  
Or search on You Tube for:  Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Overview

Addition on October 8, 2016:  The Wall Street Journal had a book review of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting by Anne Trubek.  The newspaper title of the review was "The Lions of Longhand," published in the 10/1/16 issue, page C11.  Online the book review has a different title:  Can Writing Survive the iPhone? by Wayne Curtis.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article: "The century was bracketed by two lions of longhand: Platt Rogers Spencer and A.N. Palmer. Spencerian penmanship was the sort of flowing, billowing letters familiar to anyone who’s pondered the Coca-Cola logo." And, "Spencer’s style was supplanted by a leaner script advocated by A.N. Palmer, who thought an industrializing country needed a more efficient script."

My dear departed mother learned the Palmer method of cursive.  I asked her how she had such a nice handwriting and whe told me she was taught the Palmer method.