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Core Record

Title Specimen of the Foundational Hand
Collection Crafts Study Centre
Calligrapher Edward Johnston and unknown
Description One page of an alphabet, by an unknown scribe, written in black ink in a hand copying Manuscript and Inscription Letters (1909), plate 9, on paper. Annotated by Edward Johnston, [27] June 1930.
Id Number Current Accession C.86.103.1
Subject calligraphy, broadside, writing
Measurements 8.2 x 20.8 centimetres
Material ink on paper
Ink black
History Sample for the broadside writing specimen of the Foundational Hand. Written on 26 June 1930 for Grace M. Dawson, who had written to Johnston in a letter in Andrew Johnston's collection dated 12 May 1930 with an alphabet for his authentication:

Dear Mr Johnston,
Many years ago I was a student of your class at College, 1912-1915. One day you very kindly did this alphabet for me. I have treasured it ever since. Would you be so very kind as to sign it for me; I am now lecturer in Art Needlework and Embroidery at this College [Dudley Training College for Teachers], and as I use your book and I talk to the students about your work I should deem it a great favour if you would let me have your signature.
I have the happiest recollections of your class. I well remember how glad I was when you approved of a small illustration inserted in the letter P when I was writing "The Legend of the Peach".
Thanking you for much help in my College course.
Yours sincerely,
Grace M. Dawson.

Johnston's response was to write out, on 26 and 27 June, an exhaustive criticism of the alphabet 'by an Unknown Scribe', and a specimen of his own foundational hand 'as written at the present date...by Edward Johnston (for Miss G.M. Dawson)'. Although this was at heart a generous action, it is possible that neither the commentary, original manuscript, or replacement were ever sent to Miss Dawson: there is no record of their having been posted, nor of any reply from Miss Dawson. And their provenance - from the Johnston family collection - appears to confirm Johnston's oversight.
Of particular importance is the sheet of notes criticising the manuscript 'by an Unknown Scribe'. These were thoroughly researched on 26 June, when Johnston was 'hunting for examples of E.J. MS. 1909-1914 to compare Dawson MS', and written up the following day. These notes, showing how the 'foundational hand' changed in detail over only five years, underline the difficulty of giving any short descriptive name to any of Johnston's many hands. The notes were originally pasted to the back of the 'old alphabet', but have now been separated.
Rights Owner Andrew and Angela Johnston/Crafts Study Centre 2004
Style Period Period 1910s
Technique hand-lettering



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