Monday, October 1, 2012

A Glimpse of the Charlton Howe Collection

During the Milwaukee Iampeth convention, it was my pleasure to view Iampeth's recenlty acquired Charlton Howe collection. The collection contains many of his original specimens of Engrossers script as well as drafts and layouts of large engrossed pieces. I was amazed at the size of the Engrosser's script.
There were many examples of these calling cards. The penciled baseline and headerlines were still visible in some cases but the accuracy of the strokes at such a small size were inspiring to see.
This exemplar of Upper and Lower case was surprisingly small. The dimensions were probably 4" x 6'. Wish I had measured it.
The layouts with the pencil lines and pencil sketches were a wealth of information. I appreciated all the detail of the layout sketches and drafts. To see the use of pencil lines to give the pieces their structure and stability reminded me of the lessons I learned when viewing the Healey Collection in 2010. These masters did not have the availability of computer aided layouts for their work. They were carefully drafted in pencil and meticulously executed. I wish I knew how many hours it took them to do their designs from start to finish.
This final piece made me do a double take. Years before the invention of the hot foil pen, I would swear that Howe was using Hot Foil dots on his decorated letters. The work had the glow of foil. The dots were debossed in the paper. I am going to experiment with making a depression in hot press paper with a stylus and then seeing if gilding will get the same effect. I can certainly do this with a hot foil pen, but wondering what Howe used was intriguing. Howe did he do it???


acornmoon said...

words fail me! wow.

Heather Victoria Held said...

I am still in awe of this collection Valerie! Glad I could share it.

Joseph Chapman said...

Very interesting! I was offered a chance to look at the collection when it was for sale and now I wish I had. (Or not; I probably would have bought it.)

Strange capital Z in the script exemplars; Howe seems to be avoiding descenders in capitals in general (though everyone did Y without the descender).

I like the Q in the small script exemplar--Bill Lilly came up with something similar (independently, I think) in an attempt to avoid writing it like a 2.

Hot foil pens might not have been around, but I assume hot stamping existed in the early 20th cent. An engrossing studio might have had the equipment for doing presentation covers, though that's a mere guess on my part.

I still remember seeing an envelope of Howe's at the Saga. Jeez, could that man write!

Heather Victoria Held said...

You would have loved the collection Joseph! I think you would have wanted to purchase it. I thought that Z was interesting too! He sure knew his stuff!

Dana said...

So interesting! Thanks for sharing.


Jane Farr said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post, Heather! I have enjoyed scrutinizing these images (they're glorious!), as well as reading your and Joseph Chapman's comments. I hope you are well. :) xo

Heather Victoria Held said...

Thanks Jane. The collection is a treasure. Iampeth will archive the images soon.