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Pen Meet - Meet Master Penmen

Here are the photos at the Pen Meet in May 2021. I turned the calligraphy studio into a theatre where I had the honour to tell the stories and host 2 old Master Penmen - Platt Rogers Spencer and Louis Madarasz!

They time travelled all the way from 200 years ago to give us a lecture about their life. Due to their long journey, their minds were a bit fuzzy wuzzy, some of their memories had faded and their speech was not fully accurate. So I asked the audience to help spot 5 untruthful facts, can you guess the answer? (The answers are below!)

Special thanks to my dear Teacher Michael Sull who has made this gathering insightful! I sincerely thank him for his most generous gifts - the Pen Meet was filled with historical artefacts, 100 years old print blocks, vintage magazines and writing exemplars for the audience to see and read them in person.

《 5 Untruthful Facts told by Platt Rogers Spencer 》
1. “I was born in East London, England in November 1800. This is why some people say I have a vaguely English accent.”

Spencer was born East Fishkill, New York! His accent is unknown.

2. “I was an alcoholic and a regular recipient of hallucinogenic narcotics. This was mostly in the form of the magic mushrooms I grew in my garden. The hallucinations were a key inspiration to my flowing writing script and oval shapes of my Spencarian style”
Whilst it is true that Spencer was an alcoholic, later he became an abstainer who campaigned to outlaw alcohol. It is not true that he took hallcugenic drugs which influenced his writing style. His script was inspired by the graceful forms he observed in nature such as the smooth oval pebbles in a stream.

3. “I taught and travelled around the world by steamship, teaching Queen Victoria of the British Isles, the Qing Emperors of China in Beijing and Aladdin and royals princes in the deserts of Persia.”

Spencer did not travel around the world teaching famous leaders. He was teaching at various schools in America and at his log cabin which he redecorated as a classroom.

4. “I never intended my writing style to be used formally, I originally used it as a form of graffiti - writing curses against my rivals on bathroom walls of my church. My graffiti curses were mostly about my arch rival Thomas Typewriter - who later went on to invent the ghastly mechanical writing machine the typewriter.”

Spencer developed his writing style as an informal graffiti. Nor is it known that Spencer had any dispute against the inventor of the Typewriter. In fact, the typewriter only had commercial success years after Spencer died. Also, the typewriter was not invented by anyone called Thomas Typewriter.

5. “I believed copperplate to be an inferior form of script and for such reason it has been my life mission to ruin the name of the copperplate family, especially the founder of the copperplate script - Clarissa Copperplate.”

Spencer’s views about copperplate are unknown. There was no such person as Clarrisa Copperplate.

《5 Untruthful Facts told by Louis Madarasz 》

1. “I was a dexterous young man and I enjoyed fiddling with things. I often fiddle with my little pen - over and underturning it, compound curving it, ovaling it, ascending and descending looping it, heavy pressure upstroking and downstroking it. By the age of 2 I was writing my own name.”

😂 NOT TRUE! There was no historical evidence of Madarasz skilled in fiddling with things and the year he started writing his name was unknown.

2. “I had gained a reputation by fancy writing the captions of hand-drawn nudes round the back of a public arcade - naughty captions like, “check out my ankles”, “Do you like the nape of my neck?”, and “Is that a pen in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?”

😂 NOT TRUE! Madarasz gained his fame by writing calling cards of names at the public arcade to make money. But due to his restless personality, he soon moved onto new ventures.

3. “I penned the first script on the first Coca Cola bottle in 1887.”

😂 NOT TRUE! In 1886, Dr John S Pemberton nailed the formula of Coca Cola and it was his bookkeeper who came up with the name "Coca-Cola”. Frank M Robinson, suggested that “the two Cs would look well in advertising, he also designed the now world famous Coca-Cola script logo by experimenting with an elaborate Spencerian script.

4. “I passed in 1910 from drinking too much Coca Cola”

😂 NOT TRUE! The death of Madarasz was unknown. On 21 Dec 1910, at his school desk, he wrote a Christmas card, after 5 lines, he felt unwell and went home. 2 days later, he passed away.

5. “At one point in time sold up to 100,000 copies. I also wrote a series of instructional manuals entitled: “Calli-a-graphing for Dummies”, “Why I hate Arial”, and “How to brush up on your down strokes”. My best selling memoirs are entitled: “I ink therefore I am”, “Come on, just the nib”, and “Me and my pen is...Great”, which you may purchase from Penmaster Kalo’s gift shop.”

😂 NOT TRUE! Madarasz did not sell 100,000 copies books nor published any of these books! He did, however, created two scrap books with pieces of his work and one of the them can be found at the archive of the IAMPETH.