Brief but thoughtful histories of the use and manufacture of pens, ink and paper begin this interestingly documented volume. Closeup photographs depict drips made from a vat-man's hands which fell on a freshly handmade piece of paper; and illustrate the distinction between two sides of a piece of parchment (one side is yellow with hair follicles evident, the other side smoother and whiter). A photograph of handwriting from 1843, which reveals the point in the text that the writer mended his quill, shows just how close a study can be made of the written word. The evidence uncovered might solve a mystery or merely bring the past to life.
The goal of this book is to illuminate subtle clues and to encourage detailed observation. A teacher at the University of Kentucky, Nickell is also a calligrapher who belongs to the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting. Here he offers his knowledge in detecting forgeries, identifying watermarks and dating documents, as well as in penmanship, stationery, and postal iconography. He assiduously presents photographs of rare manuscripts and antique instruments to verify his observations.The book contains a wealth of information for sleuths and scholars alike who seek knowledge of the history and use of handwritten text. In this day when computers have nearly eliminated handwritten evidence of error, and therefore thought, this document reminds us of what we will miss in the future.
Publisher: University of Kentucky
Hardback: 228 pages