What is Copperplate Writing?

For many years the hand which we know today as ‘Copperplate’ was called ‘Roundhand’. Unfortunately that name is now sometimes used by calligraphers as an alternative for the ‘Foundational Hand’ first developed and popularised by Edward Johnston.It is called Copperplate as in the early days the scribe’s writing was transferred by an engraver, using a pointed tool called a burin, on to a plate made of copper. Printed sheets were then made from this plate.Copperplate is also the name of a style of calligraphic writing, using a sharp pointed nib instead of the flat nib used in most calligraphic writing. Fine hairlines are produced when the pointed nib is just touching the paper and no pressure is applied to the nib. Shades (thick strokes) are produced when the scribe applies pressure to open the nib.

Copperplate Alphabet

7 thoughts on “What is Copperplate Writing?”

  1. This was the style of writing taught in schools, in South Australia at any rate, when I was at school. We used ink and pen for all of our writing in the 50s and early 60s and I still write in this style, albeit with a ballpoint pen now (thus lacking the emphasis between up and downstrokes). It’s easy to read and provides a nice, easy flowing text. As with all things, its appearance improves with practice.

    1. Cheryl Gorrian

      That’s amazing that you learned that in school! Truly wonderful. These days, when my son was in middle school, he was the only one who could read and write cursive at all, because I taught him. The schools here no longer teach anything but printing, because since everything is typed, they feel it is unnecessary. Most can’t even sign their names in cursive. Such a shame.

  2. The style of copperplate writing, is without doubt the best in the world. I am always left mesmerised when I see something written in this style. I started to learn how to write in this style when I was around twelve years of age. I would go up into the school library and practice during my lunch breaks. I would copy the letters down on bits of paper and into notebooks. I have kept to this style of writing ever since, and over the years I have had many people comment on it. I think it is because it is so unusual to see nowadays. It is like looking at something from the past. I must say this type of writing looks a lot more professional if done with a fountain pen, as opposed to a ballpoint pen. I think you can tell an awful lot from a person’s handwriting. It can tell you a lot about their character and their background.

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