• <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> LÉOPOLD II of Belgium. Autograph letter signed to Ferdinand de Lesseps. (Brusselss, 30th of August 1881. € 500 / 600
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Unique collection of c. 280 satirical postcards on Léopold II of Belgium.<br>€ 3.000 / 3.500
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Horae, use of Rouen, c. 1475.<br>€ 22.000 / 30.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> <i>Sensuyt la tresplaisante hystoire du preux et vaillant Guerin de Montglaue</i> [...]. € 6.000 / 8.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> SCUTENAIRE, Louis. <i>Mes inscriptions.</i> 1945-1963. € 1.000 / 1.200
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Études Gèographiques [puzzle].<br>€ 70 / 100
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Unique series of fifty 19th-c. Persian miniatures. € 1.500 / 2.500
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> SIXTUS IV. <i>De sanguine Christi et De potentia Dei,</i> 1474. € 4.500 / 6.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Joan Miró, lithographies. € 200 / 300
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> MERIAN, Anna Maria Sibylla. [Metamorphosis of a brown butterfly]. € 4.000 / 5.000
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000
  • <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Huang Qianren. Complete Geographic Map of the Great Qing Dynasty. £50,000 to £80,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Book of Hours of Jean Le Sauvage and Jacqueline de Boulogne. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Abraham Ortelius. <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum. – Parergon. – Nomenclator ptolemaicus,</i> 1584. £80,000 to £120,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2011 Issue

Cursive Suffers Another Deadly Blow

Palmerstudents

Students practice the Palmer Method of writing years ago. No more.

There is one less subject schoolchildren in Indiana will have to master when school reopens this fall - cursive. For younger readers unfamiliar with that term, it has nothing to do with bad language. It's that old style of penmanship (what's that?) also known as "handwriting," or "longhand," where letters of a word are strung together in one stroke of the pen. It is faster to write this way than it is to print. It is also a disappearing art of little use to those who only write with a keyboard. It is a skill like knowing how to ride horses faster - of limited use to those who only drive cars.

 

Of course there is a tinge of sadness for those who love books, or even more so, manuscripts. How many of the great works were first created by an author spelling out the words in cursive? It is unlikely anyone knows, but it certainly must be a large percentage. Then again, many of the great books were first written in Latin, and how many people can read or write that anymore?

 

The Indiana Department of Education was just bowing to reality when it sent out its memo over the summer. Schools in the state will no longer be required to teach cursive. They will not be prevented from teaching it if they so choose, but it will no longer be a requirement. One can only suspect that some will drop it this year, with more removing it from the curriculum in the years ahead until it effectively disappears. The handwriting, so to speak, is on the wall.

 

The death of cursive can be blamed on the same cause as the death of books, retail stores, personal interaction, objective news reporting, intelligent thought, good manners, and everything else good and worthy - computers and the internet. Young people grow up today pecking at a keyboard. Even printing letters may seem unusual to them, but at least the letters look similar to what they see on a computer monitor. They can imitate. Cursive writing looks like another language from the one displayed on the keys of a keyboard.

 

If the computer/word processor took away the need to write out schoolwork by hand, the internet removed the need to handwrite letters to your friends. That has been replaced by email, instant messages, text messages, and social network postings. All of those are written on a keyboard as well. Teaching a faster method to do something people don't do anymore is not a particularly good use of school time.

 

Now people do still occasionally have to write out messages. If you are trapped on a mountain alone, outside of cell phone range, you need to be able to carve out "Help" in the snow. However, what we find is that even though cursive was still being taught in the schools, recent generations haven't been using it anyway, even when compelled to write with a pen. When the College Board, creator of those ubiquitous SATs (Scholastic Aptitude Tests), added a writing section to their tests in 2006, they found that only 15% of the students used cursive. The remaining 85% printed their essays, even though these were timed tests, giving an advantage to those who could write faster. Use of cursive had already greatly atrophied even when people were called on to write with a pen, and write quickly at that. I stopped using cursive, even for note taking, many years ago, using a self-invented shorthand of printing with abbreviations. I thought what I did was unusual. It turns out this was about as "unusual" as 85% of the population.

 

This does leave me with one question. How will coming generations sign their name? Will printed signatures appear sufficiently unique to be used on legal documents? Perhaps people will just make up their own squiggles. So many signatures these days are indecipherable anyway. Or, maybe we could adopt the Chinese system of "chops," a personal carved ink stamp that is used as a signature. Then we won't have to know how to write or print at all.

 

Lest anyone think what has happened here is an aberration, remember - this is Indiana. Indiana is not the center of cutting-edge, radical new thought, be it in politics or education. It is a very conservative, heartland state. If a long established tradition cannot make it there, it cannot make it anywhere, Indiana, Indiana. Rest in peace, Austin Palmer.


Posted On: 2011-09-01 00:00
User Name: BorogoveB

Thanks for this thoughtful essay. My son (now 18) studied cursive in school but it didn't take and he never uses it except when signing his n


Posted On: 2011-09-26 00:00
User Name: DavidAust

I remember greatly enjoying the learning of cursive writing. We always said it like that, a two-word phrase. For the first time in decades I


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Adrian Reland, <i>Imperium Japonicum,</i> first European map to use Sino-Japanese characters, Amsterdam, circa 1740. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> John Overton, <i>A New & Most Exact Map of America,</i> hand colored, London, 1671. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> John James Audubon, <i>The Birds of America & Quadrupeds of North America,</i> together in 10 matching octavo bindings. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Cornelis de Jode, <i>Hemispheriu ab Aequinoctiali Linea,</i> Antwerp, 1593. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Currier & Ives, <i>Across the Continent,</i> New York, 1868, formerly in the collection of Thomas Winthrop Streeter. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Frederick Sander, <i>Reichenbachia, Orchids Illustrated & Described,</i> in four volumes, St. Albans, 1888-94. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Color woodblock map of Uraga and Edo Bay showing the course of Commodore Perry’s Black Ship squadron, Japan, circa 1854. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Manuscript report on the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry, with 2 portraits of Perry & Commander H. A. Adams, Japan. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Edward Lear, <i>Castello di Melfi in Basilicata,</i> ink, graphite & watercolor, 1847. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Abraham Ortelius, <i>Islandia,</i> Antwerp, 1603. $3,500 to $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Philippe Vandermaelen, North American volume of the first atlas to use lithography, Brussels, 1827. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, <i>A Chart of the Coast,</i> from the <i>Atlantic Neptune,</i> London, 1780. $18,000 to $22,000.
  • <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> WETZEL, CHARLES M. American Fishing Books. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> BISSELL, ALFRED E., <i>In Pursuit of Salar.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> <i>The Settler and Sportsman in Anticosti.</i> $400 to $600
    <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> CARLETON, HENRY GUY, <i>Advice to Young Anglers.</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> ROBINSON, ROLAND EVANS, <i>Forest and Stream Fables. By Awahsoose the Bear.</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SAWADA, KEN, <i>The Art of the Classic Salmon Fly.</i> $300 to $500
    <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SOUTHARD, CHARLES ZIBEON, <i>The Evolution of Trout and Trout Fishing in America.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SOUTHARD, CHARLES ZIBEON, <i>Trout Fly-Fishing in America.</i> $400 to $600
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s New York<br>Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection: Part II<br>December 13, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Sibelius, Jean. Autograph manuscript of “Spagnuolo” for piano, boldly signed “Jean Sibelius.” $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Verdi, Giuseppe. Fourteen largely unpublished autograph letters signed to Alessandro Lanari, the “Napoleon of Impresarios.” $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Jefferson, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th: Jefferson") to William Lee, Monticello, 26 August 1816. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Whitman, Walt. Signed carte-de-visite photograph by Benjamin Gurney, 1875. $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Wilde, Oscar. Autograph letter signed ("Oscar Wilde"). 8 pages on 2 bifolia of different sizes, with ink sketch on the first page. $25,000 to $30,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Thomas Malton, <i>Malton's Oxford,</i> 4 original parts, 1st edition, 1802-1804. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> John Papworth, <i>Select Views of London,</i> 1st edition, Ackermann, 1816. £1000 to £1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> William Curtis, <i>Flora Londinensis,</i> 5 volumes, 1st edition, 1835. £5000 to £7000
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Thomas Jerdon, <i>Illustrations of Indian Ornithology…,</i> 1st edition, 1847. From the ornithological library of Martin Woodcock. £1000 to £1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> C. & J. Greenwood, <i>London from actual survey made in the years 1824, 1825 & 1826...,</i> 1830. £3000 to £5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Joseph Smith, <i>The Book of Doctrine and Covenants,</i> 2nd European edition, Liverpool, 1849. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Khaqani, <i>Tuhfat al-’Iraqayn [‘The Gift of the Two Iraqs’],</i> probably Safavid Iran [c. 1600]. £700 to £1000
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Steiff. A pair of rare Steiff rod bears, c. 1904. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Golden Cockerel Press, <i>Canterbury Tales, Illustrated by Eric Gill,</i> 4 volumes, 1929-31. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Lord Byron (1788-1824), A piece of red damask from the bridal bed curtain of Lord & Lady Byron, Seaham Hall, 1815. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Rupert Brooke (1887-1915), Autograph letter signed to an admiring Cambridge friend, the notable bookseller E.P. Goldschmidt, [1907]. £3000 to £5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Eric Ambler, <i>Cause For Alarm,</i> 1st edition in dust jacket, inscribed by the author, 1938. £1500 to £2000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s New York<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts Online<br>Ending December 17</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies…</i> The Second Impression. 1632. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> GEORGE CURZON, 1ST MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON. “Curzon Tiger Hunt.” [India: circa 1901]. 120 albumen photographs. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> (CASSADY, NEAL). Kerouac, Jack. <i>On the Road.</i> New York: Viking Press, 1957. Inscribed. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> VEGA, JOSEPH PENSO DE LA. <i>Confusion de Confusiones. Dialogos curiosos entre un Philosopho agudo, un Mercader discrete...</i> Amsterdam, 1688. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> RACKHAM, ARTHUR — [WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE]. "The Moon Like to a Silver Bow New-Bent in Heaven," original illustration for <i>A Midsummer Night's Dream.</i> $12,000 to $18,000

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