University of Delaware Library
Bookmark and Share



The word calligraphy comes from the Greek for "beautiful writing." Beauty in handwriting was an important asset not only for writing teachers and clerks, but also for educated men and women. With the invention of the typewriter and later the computer, handwriting became less significant and the ability to write in a beautiful hand less valued. Today, beautiful hand writing is rarely found except for wedding invitations and diplomas.

José de Casanova, b. 1615 or 16.

Primera parte del arte de escrivir todas formas de letras. En Madrid: Por Diego Diaz de la Carrera, ano 1650.

José de Casanova was a seventeenth century Spanish writing master.

Edward Cocker, 1631-1675.

Examples of Italian Hands; Invented, Written and Engraved by Edward Cocker. [London: s.n., 166?].

Edward Cocker worked in London as an engraver and as a teacher of writing and arithmetic. He also wrote poetry and was a skilful calligrapher with considerable artistic talent which enabled him to support himself by producing copy-books. His most famous work was Cocker's Arithmetic which was published in more than 100 editions over a period of a hundred years.

The Young Clerks Assistant, or Penmanship Made Easy, Instructive and Entertaining… London: Printed for Richard Ware, 1733.

The instruction manual includes information on forming letters, holding the pen, arm and wrist positions and proper posture as well as calligraphic specimens including alphabets, maxims, didactic verses and words of advice for elevating the moral standards of young men.

William Richards, fl. 1730-1763.

The Compleat Penman, or, Young Clerk's Companion. [London]: Sold by the author; also, by J. Wilcox…; and B. Cole, engraver…, [1738?]

Identified as "Master of the Boarding School in Ratcliff Highway London," Richards includes samples of writing by various penmen as well as his own work.

Pedro Díaz Morante, 1566- 1636.

Arte nueva de escribir, inventada por el insigne maestro Pedro Diaz Morante, e ilustrada con muestras nuevas, y varios discuros conducentes al verdadero magisterio de primeras letras… Se publica a expensas de la referida Real sociedad… Madrid: Impr. de A. de Sancha, 1776.

Pedro Díaz Morante was a Spanish writing master who wrote four books on penmanship.

Samuel Coates, 1748-1830.

Poikilographia, or, Various Specimens of Ornamental Penmanship. London: Published for the author, 1812.

The work displays a great variety of writing styles, alphabets (including Hebrew, Greek, and Anglo-Saxon) and ornate calligraphic designs.

W. Russell Hood.

Calligraphic alphabet. Watercolor on paper, ca. 1960.

W. Russell Hood was a Philadelphia-based industrial designer who was active in the mid-twentieth century. The University of Delaware holds a collection of Hood's papers on typography and graphic design.


A monogram is a design consisting of two or more letters, most often the initials of a person's name, written together and usually interwoven. In the nineteenth century, it was very popular to use this symbol on tableware, jewelry, bookplates and stationery.

John Lockington.

Bowles's New and Complete Book of Cyper: Designed and Engraved on Twenty-four Copper plates. London: Printed for the Proprietors Bowles and Carver…, ca. 1785.

This pattern book was very popular and went through several editions. Each page included twenty-five designs showing one letter of the alphabet in combination with every other letter. These monograms were used for jewelry, bookplates and silverware.

Owen Jones, 1809-1874.

702 Monograms. London: Thos. De la Rue & Co., 1864.

Jones, a British architect and designer, is best known for his large-scale chromolithograph design books. His most lucrative work, however, was through his long-standing relationship with the firm of De La Rue. From the mid-1840s until his death, Jones designed an astonishing variety of products for De La Rue, including playing cards, menus, biscuit-tin wrappers, postage stamps, chessboards, endpapers, scrap albums and diaries. These monograms were designed to be used on personal items, stationery and silver.

Mathews & Co., New York.

Monograms. New York: F. Mayer, ca. 1880.

This trade catalog contains over 400 different examples of monograms.

This page is maintained by Special Collections.

  • UD Library Special Collections  •   181 South College Avenue  •   Newark, DE 19717-5267  •   USA
    Phone: USA +1 302-831-2229  •   ©2014