Calligraphy: Historical Hands

Calligraphy: Historical Hands class summer 2019

Calligraphy: Historical Hands

Cost: $770.00

This 8-week course will introduce students to three major historical styles of writing: Uncial, Carolingian, and Blackletter. This class will focus on the fundamentals of understanding these letterforms and practicalities for using professional tools. The historical survey of the development of these hands will also be covered through lectures and printed hand-outs.

Beginning in the late Roman era, books were written in Uncial, which was in common use as a book hand for more than 800 years. During the late 8th century Charlemagne’s reign in the late 7th and early 8th centuries, advancements in scholarship were accompanied by sophistication in bookmaking which led to the development and widespread use of a legible minuscule hand we now call Carolingian. In the centuries that followed, the Carolingian hand was narrowed and made angular eventually evolving into the Blackletter book hands of the 14 century. Blackletter then famously became the very first European printing types in the hands of Gutenberg and his colleagues, remaining in common use for more than 900 years afterward.

Beginners are welcome as are more intermediate students who want to expand their repertoire or writing styles. The focus will be on letter anatomy, correct ductus, letter, Rand word spacing while working with broad-edge dip metal pens and ink. The students will also learn to combine various styles for layout and composition.

Meets Weekly: Tuesday 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Required Materials

In addition, students should bring the below to the first class.

  • Black Higgins Eternal Ink (or similar non-waterproof ink)
  • Straight Penholder (nib holder)
  • Three pen nibs: Brause 5mm, 4mm, & 3mm (or similar sized nibs, such as Speedball C-0 & C-1 & C-2)
  • 9” x 12” or bigger layout pad (recommended brands: Borden & Riley #37 Boris Marker Layout pad, or Canson Marker Layout pad, or Bienfang 360.)
  • Masking tape
  • Paper towel or soft cotton rag
  • Pencil & Eraser

Optional: a smallish portfolio case to carry materials (make sure it will fit your t-square and a 14" x 17" pad of paper)


Registration for summer classes begins on May 7. Join the mailing list to receive updates and reminders about upcoming events, classes, and workshops.

Course Code: 200949

Instructor(s): Lynne Yun

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.