Calligraphic Manuscripts

Jehan de Beau-Chesne. Specimens of Calligraphy. c.1610. Wing MS ZW 639 .B382.
Jehan de Beau-Chesne. Specimens of Calligraphy. c.1610. Wing MS ZW 639 .B382.

To complement its unmatched holdings of printed books on calligraphy and handwriting, the Newberry has assembled more than 600 original calligraphic manuscripts for study and exhibit. These comprise a comprehensive, representative selection of scripts and formats from all periods from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. There is also a small but choice collection of contemporary masters, bringing the story of calligraphy up to the present day. See our Pre-1500 European Manuscripts and the abstracts in Modern Manuscript Collections for more information.

The collection of early modern manuscripts is particularly rich in copy books and instructional manuals but also includes constructed and ornamental alphabets, legal documents, diplomas and certificates, and ceremonial and gift books. Early masters represented include Ludovico Arrighi, Johann Neudorfer, Louis Senault, Jan van de Velde, and Esther Inglis. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century materials are equally well represented, especially for France, England and the U.S. The twentieth century revival of calligraphy is represented by manuscripts of Edward Johnston, Grailey Hewitt, Eric Gill, Alfred Fairbank, Irene Wellington, John Carter, Rudolf Koch, Anna Simons, Paul Standard, and others, and by calligraphic stones or blocks incised by Gill, Edward Catich, Reynolds Stone, John Howard Benson, and David Kindersly.

Archival materials of calligraphic interest include the papers of such modern teachers and practitioners as Platt Rogers Spencer, Ernst Detterer, George Salter, James Hayes, Gertrude Carrier, Raymond DaBoll, Enid Eder Perkins, and Donald Anderson. Present-day masters represented by original work in the collection include Donald Jackson, Susan Skarsgard, Timothy Botts, Eliza Schulte Halliday, and Thomas Ingmire. Where possible, these contemporary artists are also represented by sketches, roughs, correspondence and critical writings.

For more detailed information about items in the collections, see our bibliographic guides, Manuscripts – Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts – Publications about the Newberry Library Collections and Manuscripts – Modern Manuscripts – Publications about the Newberry Library Collections.