steel calligraphy nibs lined up on a light gray background

A Brief History of Copperplate Calligraphy

A sample of a copper plate engraving on page 194 of The Universal Penman, first published c. 1740–1741. An example of George Bickham's English Roundhand lettering and engraving ability.

Back in 2016, I started my journey in learning calligraphy. My starting work was difficult to read and looked like I was scratching every piece of paper. However, after buying the book “Calligraphy Alphabets for Beginners” by Mary Noble and Janet Mehigan I saw the beauty that is Copperplate calligraphy.

Copperplate calligraphy is also known as Copperplate script, formally English Roundhand was a style of writing developed in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Calligraphers using a pointed steel nib or quill to achieve thick and thin strokes make the beautiful flowing style of Copperplate calligraphy. Business clerks and book writers used this style because it was visually appealing and quick to write.

The scripting style of Copperplate was adapted for printing by being transferred onto metal plates made of copper. The popularity of the script on copper plates influenced the name change from English Roundhand to Copperplate. More modern approaches are influenced more by the style of the calligrapher but still holds the original flow of thick and thin strokes.

Do you have a calligraphy style that appeals the most to you? Let me know in the comment section below or on Instagram at ishottheserif.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *