Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2010 Issue

What Your Children Don't Know

Palmermethodsample

Do you remember the Palmer Method of handwriting? Do you remember handwriting at all?


By Michael Stillman

The annual list of things this year's entering college freshman class either does not know, or has always assumed to be true, has been released, and as always, it is a sobering group. Beloit College in Wisconsin issues this list every year, and it is both amusing and, for older folks, terrifying to realize what their children or grandchildren have never experienced or have always known. For those with a love of the old technology, the printed book, you will come away not wondering why paper books are at risk of disappearing. Instead, you'll be amazed they still exist at all for this group of young adults.

The final item we will mention, actually number 1 on Beloit's list, will be particularly poignant for those who care about writing. First, here are some of the other things your college bound offspring don't recognize that you do.

They have never used a telephone with a cord attached to the handset.

They rarely use email any more because it is too slow, and they seldom, if ever, use postal mail (although they undoubtedly understand the expression "going postal").

Jay Leno and David Letterman have always competed head-to-head for the after-the-11:00 news audience (they never saw Johnny Carson).

They have never seen Kodachrome slides (and Kodak recently stopped their last production of Kodachrome film).

They do not recognize that pointing to your wrist is a request for the time (they don't wear watches).

Czechoslovakia has never existed.

Walmart has never sold handguns in the lower 48 states, and Sam Walton has always been dead. As an aside, I can also remember when virtually everything Walmart sold was made in the U.S.A. and they promoted it proudly. Today, practically nothing they carry was so made. We had a Chinese exchange student stay with us this summer, and it is almost impossible to find souvenirs of America that are not made in China. I digress.

Here are two more items from the list that provide some personal irony. Beloit informs us that had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL from Space Odyssey could have been their classmate, "but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus's folks on Parents' Weekend." They also inform us that longtime Miss America Pageant host Bert Parks has always been dead. When I went to college, there was no HAL, no Miley Cyrus, nor even Billy Ray Cyrus, but Bert Parks showed up for Parents' Weekend. My kids have no idea who Parks was.

There have always been hundreds of television channels to choose from but nothing to watch.

They have never had to worry about a Russian missile attack.

John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

Woody Allen has always been romantically involved with Soon-Yi Previn.

Finally, here is number 1 on their list, and it is one closely connected to writing: "Few in the class know how to write in cursive." I asked my daughter, who will qualify for next year's list of freshmen ignoramuses, whether this was true. She says she did learn to write in cursive, having one year of instruction in elementary school, but is unsure whether she remembers enough to use it for anything more than her personal signature. Come to think of it, I can't remember when I last wrote anything in cursive other than my signature. It may have been just before I got my first computer/word processor in the 1980s.

For the complete Beloit list, click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Westvaco–Inspirations for Printers,</i> 3 volumes, 1938-61. $200 to $300.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Proef van Letteren, <i>Welk gegooten worden in de Nieuwe Haerlemsche Lettergietery,</i> 1768. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Paul Klee, <i>Bauhaus Ausstellung Juli – Sept.,</i> Weimar, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Michel Seuphor & Jozef Peeters, <i>Het Overzicht Nos.</i> 22-23-24, Antwerp, 1922. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Wolfrum & Co., <i>Modern Graphik, Serie I…,</i> complete portfolio, 1909. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Gravure et Fonderie deC. Derriey: Specimen-Album,</i> Paris, 1862. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Science: Books and Manuscripts<br>15-25 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Mary Anning. Autograph letter signed, to William Buckland, 24 November 1834. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Bolyai. <i>Scientiam spatii absolute veram exhibens,</i> Maros Vásárhelyi, 1832-1833, 2 volumes, half calf. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Vesalius.<br><i>De humani corporis fabrica,</i> Basel, 1555, modern crushed burgundy morocco. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Science: Books and Manuscripts<br>15-25 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Copernicus.<br><i>De revolutionibus orbium coelestium,</i> Nuremberg, 1543, later boards, Rostock duplicate. £70,000 to £100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Payan-Dumoulin. Profusely illustrated manuscript of fossils, France, c.1875-1979. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph letter signed, to his son Albert, 4 November [1915]. £10,000 to £15,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Alken (Henry), after. Salmon Fishing; Fishing in a Punt; Pike Fishing, three works, 1820. £600 to £800.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Early Images of Angling.- Hollar (Wenceslaus) Angling; River Fishing; and Salmon Fishing, after Francis Barlow, 3 engravings, [c. 1671]. £500 to £700.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Rolfe (Henry Leonidas). <i>Studies of Fresh Water Fish,</i> 1851. £500 to £700.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Morland (George), After. A Party Angling; The Anglers' Repast, a pair, mezzotints, 1789. £400 to £600.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Pollard (James), After. Bottom Fishing; Anglers Packing Up, etchings with aquatint, 1831. £400 to £600.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Angling's Age of Romance.- Sayer (Robert, publisher) & J. Bennett. The Angelic Angler, mezzotint, 1781; and another. £300 to £400.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Satire.- London.- Roberts (Piercy). Patience at Paddington or angling in the Junction Canal, etching after Woodward, 1807; together with Woodward's 'Angling at Sadler's Wells', and another, 1794. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Satire - Cats Fishing.- Seymour (Robert). Waltonizing or - Green-land Fisherman, [c. 1830s]; together with 3 lithographs of cats fishing, [c. 1830s]. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Portraits.- Zoffany (Johan), After. Master James Sayer, at the age of 13, mezzotint by Richard Houston, 1772. £300 to £400.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Wilkinson (Norman). Come to Britain for Fishing, lithographic poster, [c. 1947]. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Scottish Fishing.- Heath (William). Sporting in the Scottish Isles no. III. Salmon Fishing, 1835; and another. £150 to £200.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Simpson (Joseph). The Border Angler, drypoint, [c. 1927]. £150 to £200.

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