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Real Pen Work 1881: Self-Instructor in Penmanship (book and CD) Review by Amy Christy

Knowles and Maxim
Piper Publishing, LLC
PO Box 42
Easton, CT 06612-0042

Unfortunately, in this day and age of computer keyboards and text messages, handwriting has become a lost art. I often look at letters from my great-great grandparents and wish that I was able to replicate such keepsakes for my own children to pass down. Now, because of this facsimile edition of Knowles and Maxim's 1881 original work, I can learn to recreate some of that graceful script with my own hand. Originally sold for one dollar, Real Pen Work boasts that it is "The greatest means ever known for learning to write in an elegant hand."

Hudson Maxim, an inventor and entrepreneur, and Alden Knowles, and expert penman, set out by trial and error to sell their ink and instructions for elegant writing styles and ornamental pen work. The fascinating history of their friendship and business relationship is recorded in the foreword of this book.

Real Pen Work 1881 was designed to be self-taught, and it states that by following the simple instructions, even those for whom handwriting does not come natural should be able to write in a beautiful hand in an incredibly short time. In fact, it says, "There is no more doubt about it than that the sun rises and sets." Now that's a claim!

Beginning with "How to Sit at the Desk" and "How to Hold the Pen," the authors stress the importance of correct posture. Following are scales for slants, analysis of capital and small letters, sample alphabets, and Spencerian scripts. The authors also share the "secret" of the tracing process. There are rich examples of flourished birds and ornamental pen-work throughout.

The listing price is $24.00 for the book and the accompanying CD, which contains all of the images found in the book in PDF, JPEG and TIF formats. These images are an incredible bonus and can be used for scrapbooking, note cards, and countless other projects.

Real Pen-Work 1881 is a lovely instruction manual and a very interesting piece of handwriting history that's perfect for any homeschool. Your students will learn of the rich heritage of America's golden age of penmanship throughout these beautiful pages and be able to create keepsakes of their own.

Product review by Amy Christy, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2007