Posts tagged ‘handwriting’

March 25, 2011


In a wonderful article on handwriting through the ages (“from scriptorium to LongPen™”) over at triplecanopy, Joshua Cohen tells us that Antonio Sinibaldi, scribe to the Medicis, who had “an elegant, gracile hand,” was the first major scribe to be put out of work by the Gutenberg machine in 1480.

Antonio Sinibaldi's handwriting

The scribes understood that it wasn’t just their jobs that were on the line – the whole world was changing for them. More from Cohen.
In 1492, Johannes Trithemius, Abbot of Sponheim, wrote De Laude Scriptorum, “In Praise of Scribes,” a polemic addressed to Gerlach, Abbot of Deutz. Trithemius’s intention was to uphold scribal preeminence while denouncing the temptations of the emerging press: “The printed book is made of paper and, like paper, will quickly disappear. But the scribe working with parchment ensures lasting remembrance for himself and for his text.” Trithemius asserted that movable type was no substitute for solitary transcription, as the discipline of copying was a much better guarantor of religious sensibility than the mundane acts of printing and reading. As evidence he offers the account of a Benedictine copyist, famed for his pious perspicuity, who had died, was buried by his brethren, then subsequently (though inexplicably) exhumed. According to Trithemius, the copyist’s corpus had decomposed but for three fingers of his composing hand: his right thumb, forefinger, and middle finger—relics, like manuscripture itself, of literary diligence.

The article talks about everything from the oldest complete Bible to computers, via Shakespare, Melville, Nietzsche, Kafka…brilliant!