Foreword of the book by Charles Hamilton
As I ventured into the pages of this history of handwriting, I was dazzled by the vast amount of information Joe Nickell has brought together in one volume. To accomplish this feat, the author explored innumerable written works, many of them rare and long out of print, and added his own experiences, including laboratory experiments. The result of all this research is a dramatic record of every aspect of handwriting. Nickell's comments are punctuated by drawings and photographs that chronicle the history of pens, paper, and ink.
A valuable reference work, it is also a perfect bedside or traveling companion. Do pens and ink intrigue you? Maybe not, but they will when you read what Joe Nickell has to say about them. Did you know, for instance, that the left wing feathers of the bird were preferred for quill pens or that nutgalls from the oak tree, an essential ingredient in the ink used by Shakespeare and Napoleon, were actually created by female wasps? And were you aware that rubber erasers like the one on the end of your pencil may soon be replaced by laser beams?
Without pen, ink, and paper, there would, of course, be no permanently recorded history, literature, music, or science. But the significance of this book goes far beyond the obvious. Aside from its appeal to the general reader, it is sure to intrigue and benefit calligraphers, those true devotees of the pen who enjoy turning every letter they write into a thing of beauty; philographers, or collectors and students of old and rare manuscripts and letters; graphologists and graphoanalysts; archivists and librarians; paleographers; forensic document examiners; criminologists and crime buffs; and collectors of the quaint and rare.
As for myself, I can only aver that had I owned this volume sixty years ago, it would have enormously eased my entry into the manuscript world and spared me countless hours of trial and error in deciphering old scripts and identifying forgeries, as well as adding a more polished background to my court testimony as an expert in forensic documents. - Charles Hamilton
What others say about the book…
- "... Anyone who writes or reads will appreciate this fascinating history of the written page." Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
- "This text is a dream for those interested in handwriting, ink, paper, tools, documents, etc., that relate to the history of calligraphy." Virginia Quarterly Review
- "... Easily one of the best-researched volumes ever in the vast field of paper memorabilia." Collectors Journal
- "... [E]xciting. ...a fine reference for collectors and dealers in historic manuscript material." The Autograph Collector's Magazine
- "[A] handsome gift book that all lovers of language and history and communication itself will want to make a present to themselves." The Courier-journal (Louisville, Kentucky)
- "A well-written, wide-ranging introduction ... that can be read and browsed in for pleasure and instruction for years to come." ANQ
- "... An indispensable reference as well as an absorbing cultural tour." New England Book and Text Studies
- "... Combines the elements of a mystery thriller with those of a quality textbook ..." Antiques Today
- "In a class by itself. ... A serious autograph dealer cannot be without this." Bookman's Weekly
- "... Particularly rewarding to the general audience." Rotunda: The Magazine of the Royal Ontario Museum
1st edition, 3rd printing with corrections 2003, Pb, 228pp, with over 350 illustrations, 21.5 x 28 cm