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Bickham the Elder (1684–1758)
was an English writing master and engraver. He is best known for his
engraving work in The Universal Penman, a collection of
writing exemplars which helped to popularise the English Round Hand
script in the 18th century.
1712, Bickham wrote copy books and business texts, as there was a
strong link between writing and mathematics instruction (arithmetic
and bookkeeping) in the-mid 17th century to early 18th century.
Bickham the Elder collected from twenty-five London writing masters
in 1733 to create and engrave the penmanship samples forming the
which was reported to be the most important and popular of copy texts
used by writing masters to instruct their pupils.
in Bickham’s Universal
this poem by writing master Samuel Vaux, dated 1734, conveying, that
poor writing was a disgrace to the beauty of the writer: “An
artless Scrawl ye blushing Scribler shames; All shou’d be fair that
Beauteous Woman frames.” And then this piece, hinting, that
calligraphy may have a role in encouraging romance: “Strive to
excel, with Ease the Pen will move; And pretty line add Charms to
infant Love.” (Monaghan, 2005, p. 281).
Bickham also published The British Monarchy, which is a
collection of 188 plates of historical notes with 43 plates of views
of English and Welsh counties. They are called views, rather than
maps, though they are presented as map-like perspectives with major
towns marked. His son George Bickham the Younger also followed
in the family tradition of engraving.
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