#7 What is the role of Calligraphy in History ?
Last Updated: 10/17/2019

History of Calligraphy:

The art of calligraphy is as old as writing itself and originates from man's natural instinct to communicate. The writing material of classic times was papyrus, used first with a reed brush, then a broad edged pen cut from the split stem of a reed.. Although paper was invented in China about 100 BC, it was rare in Europe until its introduction in the 15th century. Throughout the Middle Ages parchment was used for manuscripts by monks and scribes in the monasteries. Its finer surface encouraged smaller writing and the use of quill pens cut from birds feathers. Between 600-1800A.D. quill pens became the principal writing instrument, but required constant re-trimming by hand. The metallic pointed nib was not invented until the 18th century by steel makers in Birmingham, England who developed a technique, still in use today, to mass produce long wearing steel nib pens, and by 1850 quills for the most part had been replaced by wooden styluses with steel nibs.

Major influences have been the classic capital letters carved by Romans on columns and buildings, and the beautiful script produced by monks and scholars prior to the invention of the printing press. A cursive form of the square capitals was developed for writing purposes, first Rustica and then Uncial between the 5th and 10th centuries. The 9th century saw the adoption of the Carolingian Miniscule or little letters throughout Europe. Evolution of the Gothic scripts occurred as early as the 10th century and continued in Northern Europe until the 15th century. The elegant Italic scripts appeared during the Italian Renaissance.

Although demand for handwritten books was greatly reduced after the invention of printing, fine writing continued among the Renaissance masters. The style of scripts became finer and more complex. Copperplate emerged and the pointed nib replaced the broad edged pen. However, at the end of the 19th century, the Arts and Crafts movement revitalized many crafts including calligraphy. In particular, the superb work produced by Edward Johnston based on the study of early manuscripts was to lay the foundations for the calligraphy that we see today.

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