SPENCERIAN MONUMENT UNDERWAY FOR AMERICAN HANDWRITING
-- Michael Sull
My dear friends and fellow penmen,
I have very exciting news to share! Work is in progress to create the first public monument in America dedicated to our heritage of handwriting! It is difficult to understand why this has never been done previously, but everyone who has become involved in the project is ecstatic for this opportunity to permanently recognize our penmanship history for posterity.
The idea for creating some form of recognition concerning our unique American handwriting era crossed my mind 2 years ago when I began planning for the 25th anniversary of the Spencerian Saga in 2011. As I thought about the influence that the Saga program has had in promoting Platt Rogers Spencer and our country's Golden Age of Penmanship, I considered the thought that there should be some way to commemorate the role that the event has served for such a long period of time. It was then that a much more important idea hit me, and the " big picture" came into view.
I realized that, despite the importance of Platt Rogers Spencer's work, as well as the work of all the legendary penmen who followed him, no monument, memorial, or formal recognition has ever been created to acknowledge their invaluable contributions to our country. As we all know, American penmanship played a tremendous role in the education of our citizens during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The skill and teaching of handwriting had a vast influence in the progressive increase of literacy throughout our population, and Business Writing became the mainstream vehicle for all commercial correspondence. In addition, Spencerian Script touched nearly everyone at that time with the expression of social correspondence, allowing families and friends to stay in touch with one another. And yet, in the 148 years since the death of Spencer, no one has created a public recognition of any kind to show that our magnificent penmen ever existed at all, let alone what they had accomplished.
Today, in this 21st century, we can do something to correct this oversight, and each of us can take pride in making this project succeed. Here and now--- this really is our moment in history, and rest assured that there will be penman who follow us. There is a line from a song that reads;
"... we all become forefathers, bye and bye..." (Dan Fogelberg). So it goes.
It is both our privilege and responsibility to record the story of American penmanship so that future generations can know and love this art-- and it's history-- as we do. The Spencerian Monument for American Handwriting will be our gift to the preservation of our native penmanship and the lives of our colleagues, past and present. We owe our predecessors more than respect; we owe them our commitment that their efforts will be remembered and never lost again.
The project will consist of 5 large bronze tablets mounted on a 4- sided limestone obelisk, 4 feet wide and 1 foot high at its base, upon which the spire will be mounted. At this point the obelisk will be 3 feet square for approximately 5 feet of height, then tapering slightly to 30 inches square up to a final height of approximately 9 feet. A finial consisting of a sculpted bronze quill is planned for placement at the top of the monument.
The two largest plaques, each measuring 22" x 32", will be the focal points of the monument. One plaque will be devoted to Platt Rogers Spencer as the Father of American Handwriting, with text about his life and accomplishments, and the other plaque will commemorate the Spencerian Saga, with text about its founding, program, and influence for over a quarter-century of promoting Spencer's legacy.
The remaining 3 plaques are: 1) Spencer's iconic poem, " The Origin of Spencerian Penmanship"; 2) the Dedication plaque, featuring the date of dedication (August 24, 2012) and the names of the Spencer Monument Committee members from the Spencerian Saga and the City of Geneva, Ohio; and the Patron's Plaque, featuring the names of donors who have donated $500 or more to the project.
The Spencer Monument project is spearheaded by the Spencerian Saga and it's many students, but everyone- whether you have attended the Saga or not, is welcomed and encouraged to participate in this historic event by making a contribution. Donations must be in the form of a check or money order made out to " Spencer Monument Project" and can be in any amount. Donations should be mailed to:
Spencer Monument Project
Post Office Box 65
Cottage Grove, Minnesota 55016
Everyone who makes a donation will receive a flourished certificate that I have especially designed for this occasion. I will inscribe the donor's name in flourished Spencerian Script. For donations of $100 or more, contributors will receive a commemorative oblique pen holder crafted by Committee members Michael Grady and myself. The words: " Spencerian Monument for American Handwriting-- Geneva, Ohio-- August 24, 2012" will be laser-engraved on each pen.
Individuals or organizations donating $500 or more will have their name(s) inscribed on the bronze Patrons Plaque permanently mounted on the monument, in addition to receiving the certificate and pen holder. Our total goal is between $8,000-$9000, depending upon the final cost of the bronze finial. At present we are just over half- way there, but we need everyone's help to succeed.
The site location for the monument is historic in itself. It is the original library building for the City of Geneva, Ohio; especially noteworthy because Spencer founded the city's first free public library in the 1830's. Platt Rogers Spencer lived in Geneva from age 10 until his death in 1864.
The library building was dedicated on Flag Day, 1910 ; one room featured a framed portrait of Spencer. In the 1980's a number of old paper folders containing penmanship specimens were discovered in the basement. It was there, in 1984, that I made my first stop in Geneva to begin my research for " Spencerian Script & Ornamental Penmanship", and assisted the library volunteers in identifying many of the specimens. For over 20 years participants of the Saga visited the Library to study their Spencerian collection.
By the late 1990's the Geneva Library building was in a state of disrepair. A new library building was constructed several miles away, and the portrait was transferred to this new facility. Last year, efforts began to restore the original building in preparation for its new role as the County Courthouse. Today, the restoration is nearly completed, and to honor Platt Rogers Spencer, our monument will be placed on the grounds in front of the building. The site is considered the most historic location in Geneva.
DEDICATION OF THE MONUMENT
The official dedication of the Spencerian Monument for American Handwriting and re-dedication of the old Library building will take place on Friday, August 24, 2012. On behalf of the Spencerian Saga, Harvest Crittenden and I will be presenting a 30"x40" framed portrait of Spencer to the newly-renovated Courthouse.
Everyone is invited to attend this historic event. For further information, please contact Dawn Darner ( email@example.com), Harvest Crittenden ( firstname.lastname@example.org), or myself ( email@example.com).
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Each of us shares a common bond in appreciating the remarkable skill of the past masters and their work. Many of us have spent years admiring their magnificent specimens, studying their techniques, and learning their history. Sometimes, it seems that we actually come close to knowing these men and women from the past. We speak their names with reverence, and can only imagine what it would have been like to study under their guidance. Now, however, we can do a great service for them.
This is, indeed, a rare opportunity to take part in a project of national significance that is unprecedented in American history. We are the first penmen and admirers of American handwriting to accomplish this endeavor and, through our efforts, America's Golden Age of Penmanship will have a stone beacon to remind everyone of our handwriting heritage-- today, tomorrow, and for all future generations who will follow in our footsteps. With the creation of this monument and it's physical presence in Geneva, our legacy of penmanship will endure beyond our own lifetimes, and forever. Thank you so very much for your consideration to participate.
Michael R. Sull
The Lettering Design Group
5830 Nall Avenue Suite 2
Mission, KS 66202