In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Maine Memory Network

Shaylor the Penman

This slideshow contains 7 items
'Harper's New Graded Copy Books,' 1885

'Harper's New Graded Copy Books,' 1885

Item 74452 info
Maine Historical Society

Horace W. Shaylor's script could be considered a blend between Spencerian Script and the Palmer Method.

Shaylor's letters had fewer flourishes and less shading than Spencer's, but more embellishments than Palmer's.

Shaylor's writing technique encompassed a combination of both finger (reminiscent of Spencer) and arm (reminiscent of Platt) movement.


"Book of Alphabets," 1908

Item 74461 info
Maine Historical Society

Like the history of handwriting, Shaylor's methods developed over time. He established three main handwriting styles: 1) slant variety 2) vertical 3) medial.

Medial handwriting was the most simplified version of the three. It was directed toward beginners and school children first learning the craft.

Medial handwriting was so popular Shaylor published a manual in both English and Spanish.

All of Shaylor’s handwriting styles put emphasis on five focal points:

Legibility -- simpler forms, shorter letters, wider spaces

Rapidity -- less distance traveled, greater freedom of movement

Economy -- save space and time by omitting superfluous strokes, more words on a line, more lines on a page

Beauty -- greater uniformity and simplicity

Hygiene -- position more healthful, strain on eyes spared

Many of Shaylor's publications give additional lessons on letter shading, spacing, slant and style.

'Medial Writing Book' cover, 1903

'Medial Writing Book' cover, 1903

Item 74147 info
Maine Historical Society

Shaylor published several penmanship manuals and copy books in his lifetime. Some of his publications are:

Harpers New Graded Copy Books, 1885
Manual of Penmanship, 1887
How to Teach Vertical Writing, 1898, 1901
Manual of Medial Writing(Shaylor and Shattuck), 1904
Manual de Escritura Media, 1906
Book of Alphabets, 1908
Shaylor's Compendium of Penmanship
A Calendar of Stray Thoughts (January)

Shaylor also photoengraved the script in Barnes' New National Readers 3 & 4

'How To Teach Vertical Writing' manual, 1898

'How To Teach Vertical Writing' manual, 1898

Item 74108 info
Maine Historical Society

One of the main points in Shaylor’s publication titled, How to Teach Vertical Writing, was his strong belief that good penmanship was needed to secure business.

In his vertical writing publication, Shaylor included five specific lesson plans to help teachers be more effective in the classroom.

'Manual of Penmanship,' 1887

'Manual of Penmanship,' 1887

Item 74150 info
Maine Historical Society

In the Manual of Penmanship, Shaylor writes about the importance of proper handwriting position, emphasizing posture, pen holding, and arm placement.

Two of the most common writing positions are "front" and "side."

The front position has the student sit facing directly toward the desk, feet square on the floor, body straight but inclined slightly foreword. The students use their left arm to hold the practice/copy book in position. The left arm is parallel to the lines in the book. The right arm is at a right angle to the left arm.

The side position has the student turn right, toward the desk. The same general arm and book angle relationships apply, except this time the right arm is placed parallel to the front edge of the desk. The right arm is not supposed be more than three or four inches away from the edge.

Vertical writing practice sentences, ca. 1900

Vertical writing practice sentences, ca. 1900

Item 74110 info
Maine Historical Society

Shaylor’s penmanship classifies letters into groups; each group has its own individual set of rules.

For example, Shaylor gives small letters (lowercase) three groupings: short letters, short extended letters, and extended or loop letters.

Short letters are written between base and headlines: i, u, w, n, m, v, x, o, a, e, c, r, s.

Short extended letters are extended to more than one space, but don't reach the height of capital letters: t, d, p, q.

Extended or loop letters are the remaining letters of the alphabet or letters that extended three or more spaces in length: h, k, l, b, f, j, y, g, z.

Chapman Brook, Bethel, 1896

Chapman Brook, Bethel, 1896

Item 74460 info
Maine Historical Society

Today, cursive writing has fallen out of style. Its decline is most commonly attributed to the teaching of manuscript first (sometimes cursive is never even taught) and the popularity of keyboarding.

Yet many still have an appreciation for penman like Shaylor, whose handwriting exemplifies a civilized, romantic and individual identity.

This slideshow contains 7 items