Art, Creativity, Photography, Travel, Writing

visual calligraphic delights

Arlantique Fair in Arlon one Saturday morning a couple of years ago: the fair turned out to be quite large, taking up two large rooms in the local equivalent of the cultural centre. Many of the stalls had very high class items for sale and some were quite reasonable. I found an old poetry book with a very ornate cover.

It originally had blank pages and was destined to be the recipient of a number of poems painstakingly copied out in examples of beautiful penmanship.

The date at the bottom of the page is 5/8/1898.

Judging from the writing inside it must have been given as a farewell gift to a young female  – and a number of people had written messages to her or copied out poems or did little drawings in the book.

Most of the poems appear to have been composed by the French poet Victor Hugo.

During a visit to the  monthly flea market a week before I had found an exercise book from a home economics course. The first half of the book has instructions on all sorts of things from how to cook and carve a chicken to nutritional values of food. The owner of the book was required to plan menus and copy out recipes – again in beautiful handwriting – as well as write a number of short articles which had been marked as being “very good” by the teacher.

This page is a list of ingredients and prices for the menu whose recipes feature on the other page of this spread.

The writing at the top of the page “pour manger avec plaisir et vivre longtemps: sois frugal et sobre” invites one to be frugal and sober in order to eat with pleasure and live a long time.

Both these books are reminders of times gone by, when people cared about their handwriting and when they had the time to sit down and copy out a favourite poem or recipe and took pleasure in so doing. How many of us even have handwriting good enough to be able to do this now; I know I haven’t.


Comments on: "visual calligraphic delights" (10)

  1. Loved these, very special and what wonderful handwriting. (especially today when I have been reading family letters from 1919!Fran

  2. celticsea said:

    I cannot see the pictures, but don’t need to in order to appreciate the contents because of your descriptions. Sounds like some great material worthy of the Antiques Roadshow!

  3. What a superb find. The cover is simply gorgeous and the pages inside a real treat – you must have been smiling very broadly with this discovery 🙂

  4. I remember being taught handwriting in elementary school. Do they even teach that anymore, I wonder? I have a journal where I write passages from things I’ve read or lectures I’ve heard, but it is a scrawl and can only be read by me!

  5. What wonderful books to find. The poetry book is an absolute treasure.

  6. Sarah Joyce Bryant said:

    So very true. Seems like we have less and less time every day. What a reminder of times gone by and to take a moment and breathe and enjoy the things around us even simply copying a poem in our best handwriting! What a reminder of the things we will leave behind!

  7. HI Carol

    the Poesie book is a tradition I also grew up with. Generally you are given one when very young and then as you grow and make new friends and acquaintances you ask them to write something in your poesie book. The first insciption is usually by your mother and thereafter close family and then acquaintances. I still have one from my childhood with drawings and photos and stickers. Those lovely sheet papers of stickers that you can find in various places were used and I was delighted that they still have them in Holland and brought some back with me. I gave each of my children a poesie book – but they just don’t “get” it in Australia. My mother put the most lovely nostalgic phot of herself and me as a 5 year old child in Italy in mine-I so want to get that photo blown up one of these days.

  8. Stunning finds.

  9. Those books were meant for you to find and share with us! The poetry book is remarkable. I’ve never seen a cover like that. The penmanship is extraordinary! While it is true that computers have made our lives easier, I sometimes long for the actual “written” word. Our ancestors had a way of making even a food ledger look elegant. Think about how doctors write today. Can you imagine a ledgible perscription?

    They still teach “longhand” in the schools in California. But it isn’t the focus the way it used to be. My daughter had the option to write or print.

  10. I am so jealous! What glorious finds! Thanks for sharing them!

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