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Penmanship Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Title: Penmanship Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1881-1955
Quantity: 1 linear ft.
Abstract: Correspondence, printed material and specimens of late 19th and early 20th century penmanship; much of the correspondence is address to L.A. Platz, an "expert penman" living in Syracuse, New York. Includes correspondence with noted penman Albert Meub as well as the Zaner-Bloser Company and its Zanerian College of Penmanship.
Language: English and small amount of German.
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

According to The Educator, "L. A. Platz, Hand-Writing Expert, Syracuse, N. Y... is a very skillful penman and was a very close friend of the late A. W. Dacon [Dakin]." [Vol. 48, No. 5, January 1943].

Albert P. Meub of Pasadena, California was "a penman of national note," known for his efforts to retain penmanship as part of the regular school curriculum, and an inductee into the Penman's Hall of Fame. In a 1927 letter to Platz (not part of this collection), he writes, "I, too, believe you should take up the teaching work. You are such a fine penman I know that you would have big success."

The Zanerian College of Penmanship was founded by Master Penman Charles Paxton Zaner in 1888. In 1895, after noted penman Elmer Ward joined the firm, it became known as the Zaner-Bloser Company. Its script was a streamlined version of Spencerian. It offered penmanship courses and published professional materials about handwriting and illustration. The company still exists today.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Penmanship Collection contains correspondence, printed material and specimens of fine penmanship.

Correspondence, L. A. Platz contains letters to expert penman L. A. Platz of Syracuse, New York. Correspondents include other notable penmen such as Henry Behrensmeyer, A. W. Dakin, Melvin H. Leib, Albert Meub, Charles Romont, and Francis L. Tower. Many are beautifully written and some are ornamented. There are also numerous letters from aspiring penmen, with samples of their work, and some general correspondence.

Printed material contains two publications from the Zanerian College of Penmanship, and assorted advertisements and circulars relating to penmanship and writing supplies.

Specimens contains autograph albums, business cards (handwritten), and scrapbooks. The scrapbooks include examples of Spencerian, copperplate, engrossing (a large, round, legible hand), and other similar scripts, as well as some examples of ornamentation such as the classic "bird flourish." There are also numerous examples of white ink on colored paper.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Alphabetical by name or topic.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Behrensmeyer, Henry P., 1868-1948.
Dakin, A. W.
Leib, Melvin.
Meub, Albert P.
Romont, Charles.

Corporate Bodies

Zaner-Bloser (Firm)


Calligraphers -- United States.
Calligraphy -- Specimens.
Calligraphy -- United States -- History.
Lettering -- Specimens.
Penmanship, American -- History.
Penmanship, American -- Specimens.


Syracuse (N.Y.)

Genres and Forms

Business cards.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Penmanship Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2015.

Notebook in English and German, transfer from Rare Books, 2017.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 21 Sep 2015
Revision history: 21 Jul 2021 - add to specimens (RMH)

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Correspondence, L.A. Platz
Box 1 Behrensmeyer, H. P. 1940
Box 1 Dakin, A. W. 1916, 1922, 1929, 1931-1932, 1935-1936, undated
Box 1 Enriquez, E. C. 1941
Box 1 Hausam, L. H. 1940
Box 1 Lehman, H. B. 1916, 1926 - includes specimen of bird flourish, multicolor with metallic accents
Box 1 Leib, Melvin 1941, 1952
Box 1 Meub, Albert P. 1921-1922, 1924, 1926, 1929, 1933, 1935, 1939-1942, 1955 - includes specimen of Platz's name done with illuminated capitals and ornamentation
Box 1 Morgan, W. H. 1927, 1930-1931
Box 1 Romont, Charles 1941
Box 1 Tower, Francis L. 1927, 1940, undated - includes hand-drawn chart of the hand, extensively annotated, with several pages of description and discussion; also a long letter describing Tower's health and how he originally planned to go into "the chicken business"
Box 1 Westrope, P. A. 1933 - numerous specimens, including a bird flourish, noted as done by Westrope at age 75
Box 1 Zaner-Bloser Co. 1940-1941 - business advice, from E. A. Luper
Box 1 Miscellaneous, A-Z - includes two letters from Japanese penmen, one in Hawaii and one in Tokyo
Printed material
Box 1 Zanerian publications undated
Box 1 Miscellaneous - advertising circulars, paper samples, etc.
Box 1 Autograph albums 1881-1892 (6 volumes)
Oversize 1 Business cards - handwritten samples, some in white ink on colored paper, some ornamented
Box 1 Practice book 1830-1831 - Louisa Kuehne; filled with words, sentences, and few copied poems; English and German
Oversize 1 Scrapbook (I) - white ink on colored paper
Oversize 1 Scrapbook (II) - white ink on colored paper
Oversize 2 Scrapbook (III) - numerous different examples
Box 1 Miscellaneous - one unidentified volume containing hand-copied poems, extracts, etc., and some loose sheets (2 folders)

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