Type Anatomy: Jennifer Wenning

Mary Martin Rebow Letters

I decided to use the Mary Martin Rebow papers for this post mostly because cursive, as a written text, isn’t very popular anymore, and in some schools isn’t being taught.  I don’t want to call it a lost language but it’s easy to see how it could be, sooner rather than later.  The handwriting is really fluid as the script moves from letter to letter, and I would definitely say it’s organic and humanist, and not at all modular; the kerning of the letters is produced entirely by our brain and not a machined setting.  Since these are hand written letters, the baseline isn’t exactly horizontally straight across the papers, there is some tilt to the lines.  However, it’s a flaw that you have to be looking for, because as you read the notes, you don’t notice the difference at all.

One of the most interesting things about cursive writing (and how our brains work) is that even though it’s not machined, the cap-height and x-height are mostly uniform.  The x-height is really the measurement that shows the uniformity even though a human hand is what produced the letters.  The ascenders and descenders of the Rebow letters are also pretty exact in their display, though its the descenders that have the same bottom point and angle throughout each of the letters I saw.  Depending on the letter, the ascenders height is different: if a letter had a loop at the top such as the lowercase f, it has a slightly larger height than the letter I, where the top is pointed instead.

Mary Martin Rebow Letters

The stroke of each letter is the same but you can definitely see where Mrs. Rebow ended some of the letters as there is an ink dot where the pen sat.  By it’s nature, script or cursive handwriting is sans-serif because you don’t lift the pen from paper as you write words out, the only time the pen is lifted is to move to the next word.  But in theses letters, there is a flourish added to the ascenders of the lowercase b’s and d’s which just adds pleasing details to already beautifully written letters.

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