Thursday, 1 November 2012

Sepia Saturday - Can you put that in writing?

Team GB hockey London Olympics
Team GB after winning the Olympics bronze medal
This week's theme is a group of Irish hurling players back in 1921. I think it's best to confess right away that the enthusiasm of the Dutch for this sport is fairly limited. In fact it is non existing. However, it may very well be that hurling is the mother sport of what we call hockey. (My friends in the US and Canada call this land hockey.) And in hockey we are good, London-Olympics-Gold-Medal-good. This may be a somewhat painful statement for British readers as "we" beat Team GB in the process. They won the bronze medal which is not bad but playing in London... But I digress. 
Looking at the theme picture again I still had no idea what to write about. But then it dawned on me. Thank you, Kat!
Sepia Saturday 150
Text written in mirror writing on the theme picture
Kat was kind enough to crop the text on the theme picture. She did so with a purpose. Could we please come up with a transcription. It always strikes me how difficult it seems to read reversed writing. It must be our brain having difficulties with the "translation". And of course, if you really concentrate on what you see, it can be done. But human beings are lazy, at least I am. So I prefer to reverse the mirrored writing instead.
Sepia Saturday 150 mirror
Aided by the information already supplied, my partial transcription reads as follows.
Michael Collins ......................
..ayers before throwing .. ...
... ball at Croke Park match
                     (KilKenny team
        v. .ip.. .
I'll leave it to the Irish/native readers to complete the text and to correct my suggestions.
Accomplishing this task it occurred to me that handwriting is something very personal. Usually you can easily recognize the handwriting of people you know. Handwriting is not something you are born with but it develops during childhood. And then, at a certain point in time, it is what it is and it stays until your hand loses its steadiness. But until that time it is almost like a signature. Until not too long ago employers required job applications to be written manually. And then it frequently happened that a graphologist was consulted to analyze the applicant's character. I haven't got a clue what the invention of the computer annex keyboard has done to this profession. But I do know that my own handwriting deteriorates because I hardly write anymore. So it remains to be seen whether people ten generations from now will still master this art. My prediction is that graphology eventually will be a vanished profession. To convince you that handwriting does add a certain beauty to a communication, I'll show you some examples from my ancestors. Without exception I can read these letters without any problem. But as the content is not relevant for this post, I will not burden you with translations of each of them. I am merely interested to show you some "pictures" (please click to enlarge). Maybe also to hear whether handwriting in your country shows some similarities or that you were being taught a style of writing that is completely different.
A 1945 draft letter written by my Mother J.H. Miebies- de Langen
when she was 28 years old.
A 1945 letter written by my Mother's best friend I. Weststeijn
They did grammar school and high school together in the same class.
I believe I see certain similarities.
A 1945 letter written by my grandmother A. de Langen-Doelman.
I am still impressed by the regularity of her writing.
Here she was 52 years old.
A 1945 letter written by my 56 years old grandfather G.Th. de Langen.
For people in possession of sharp eyes or a magnifying glass.
A 1939 letter written by my father J.C. Miebies.
Just a small side step. The above letter was written on August 31, 1939. It was during the very early stages of the WW2 mobilization  In the letter he is complaining about the horse he received. It came from an undertaker and was not accustomed to be ridden...  He called it "a big black devil but beautiful to see." Apparently the army was in need of horses and they confiscated every horse they could get.
The following two manuscripts are very special to me. They were given to me by my above mentioned grandmother. It is a school exercise book that belonged to her grandfather! His name was Cornelis Doelman (Maasland, Sept. 25, 1829 - Rijswijk, Jan. 17, 1903). He made these penmanship exercises when he was 13 years old in 1842.
Het is dwaasheid iets tot een anderen dag uit te [stellen].
It is foolish to [postpone] something to another day and time.
He initialed every page with "CD M 1842" (Cornelis Doelman Maasland 1842).
Here is another page from the same exercise book.
Now that I have hurled all these handwriting's at you, I hope I haven't caused any hurly-burly in the back of your graphological minds. However, should this be the case, you may distract yourselves by scoring a point at Sepia Saturday.


  1. Oh, very good! I like that closing pun very much!

    Interesting how men's and women's handwriting differs. Men, I believe, are in more of a hurry to get it done, whereas, the women see it as more of a pastime to be enjoyed.

    Incidentally, I had a Dutch pen-pal who was from Rijswijk. We met overseas in England, but it wasn't successful. Although his written English was very adept, his ability to speak it was very poor. It was a struggle to communicate at all through our local tours and dining experiences. Oh well!

    I think that last bit on the snippet from the image is "Tipp" for Tipperary.

    I wish I had known how to flip the image. Can you share that with me for future reference?


  2. If I remember the way my Grandma wrote her letters, I agree with you, she took her time.

    My Mother lives in Rijswijk too. Had you met her, you would still have difficulty hearing ;)

    Thanks for the 'Tipp'.

    I used Paint to mirror the image. It is in the start menu. I believe Paint comes standard with all Windows software.

  3. Wonderful post, Peter! To see all that exercising! I am sure they practised for hours and hours in past times. Handwriting is not that important anymore, sadly. I cherish all handwritten letters and postcards.

  4. I think my mother's and grandmother's handwriting looked alike.

    My handwriting is not very good. I taught myself originally, and I have printed in capital letters whenever possible since I was in high school.

  5. An inspired post, Peter and very worthy of Sepia Saturday where photos and handwriting are often combined. I have postcards, letters, and daily journals from my grandparents that retain their "touch" in a way that emails can never do.

    Penmanship was an important and common skill for many jobs in earlier times. And in very old times like the 1840s when the quill was sharpened and dipped in the inkwell, clear smudge-free writing was the ideal. I notice handwriting most often when examining census records. The best records have a careful even style, and the worst are like translating secret codes.

  6. @Prenter
    If I remember well how we learned penmanship in grammar school, it was also based on repetition, repetition, repetition. Fortunately very few people take the time to print their picture postcards :) (postcrossing)
    Of course capital letter writing does have its own beauty but... ;)
    Can you imagine all the mistakes that have been made as a consequence of illegible handwriting during the censuses?
    And remember, one day all these handwritten letters etc. we have will have the same value as the 18th century documents that we now look up in our archives. It's "just" a matter of keeping them safe...

    Thank you all for commenting.

  7. I used to have beautiful handwriting until I went to college and scribbled lecture notes furiously. And like you, I rarely write anymore which doesn't improve my penmanship one bit. When I was in grade school, I actually liked practicing my cursive, but I don't think my daughters had such instruction as neither one has pretty handwriting.

  8. Thanks, Peter. I have PAINT, but didn't see the flip mechanism. Now that I know it's there, I'll find it!!

    I also have the free program, Try it, it's great!

  9. I did enjoy seeing all the different styles of handwriting and I have to agree with you that our use of computers means we don't practise much these days. My father had the most wonderful copperplate handwriting, similar to the example, which I was never able to emulate.

  10. @Wendy
    Aahh, college, the killer of all handwriting! In grammar school we used a "crown pen" that you had to dip in the inkwell. Still have one..., but no ink :(
    Let me know if you can't find it. It is in the START menu, right below CHANGE FORMAT.
    PS Are you certain it is Tipp? The T of Throwing is very different. Or is Tipp(erary) a logical choice?

  11. I really enjoyed looking at the fine and elegant hand writing. I used to collect old postcards and they, too, had very refined handwriting. I still enjoy writing letters instead of emailing. I even dapple a bit in caligraphy myself just for my own enjoyment.

  12. That last example is so beautiful! I so enjoy the fact that I can recognize the handwriting of some of my relatives/ancestors.

  13. I'm like Wendy -- I had great handwriting (even won a couple of competitions) in grammar school and high school, but college blew the whole thing out of the water. I love the old writing -- so much more intimate and immediate, even after all these years. Interesting post!

  14. I was always envious of my father's beautiful copperplate writing. However it was painful to watch hime perform with pen and ink. My writing deteriorated when ball point pens came it to use and never recovered from note taking at university.

  15. The art of handwriting is underestimated, that is certainly true. I sometimes cannot decipher my own notes, very frustrating.

    I like the 19th century style of writing, and I approve of the anti-postponing message (maybe I should start writing that down 100 times, but let's do that another day).

  16. I think about handwriting today too and how it is a dying art as all correspondence, email and dreadful texting where one does not even have to spell have replaced the hand written note. I have some treasured old correspondences from ancestors, etc. Our grandkids, who are in their late 20's never write, if they do it is printing. I still send cards and notes to special people on very special occasions, keeping the old flame lit. A great way to go with the theme which threww me a curve again. Yes, I can recognize ancestor's handwriting too.

  17. Your great grandfathers handwriting is amazing. It looks perfect. I found the whole post interesting as I have a friend, an FBIagent who started her career as a graphologist and ended up as a profiler. Much information can be gained by professionals when they examine documents.

  18. It's amazing, you certainly out did yourself on this post! So perfect, and the reply to Kat on the writing- superb! I know about the handwriting within our family as well- but sometimes it's just in our genes right! Thank you for such a pleasing and interesting post- I know you had fun doing this one!

  19. What a fun post and twist on the theme!

    Those last two images show beautiful penmanship! I think it's quite special to see our the handwriting of our ancestors, especially their signatures.

  20. On yes our cursive writing was my favorite in grade-school. I learned calligraphy in art call and love to do art called Zentangle. Great post.
    My mother had beautiful handwriting and I never saw my father's.

  21. What a treasure - your grandfather's calligraphy. His practice really paid off. He had gorgeous penmanship.
    What a fun post. Congrats on winning the hockey gold medal.

  22. Thank you all for your comments.

    I agree with @Deb and @Bob that college/university and the ball point pen effectively killed penmanship.
    @Helen I wonder what the FBI profilers would make of my grgr-grandfathers character!
    @Pat Keep some cards for yourself! Future family genealogists will appreciate that!
    @Nancy Thank you, I'll convey it to the girls ;)

  23. The calligraphy is stunning. Alas, all my years of training in art college to do calligraphy did now win out over arthritis. I can barely read my own handwriting these days.

  24. I was fascinated by all the handwriting samples, particularly the two samples written by your great-great grandfather in 1842. What a wonderful family treasure to have in your possession!

    I agree with Wendy, I had nice handwriting while in school, now it is terrible, probably because I hate to write - much easier to type on the computer!

  25. If I was once praised for my penman ship, i don't think it is any longer the case, though, it is quite distinctive if somewhat unreadable...
    C'est la vie!!!


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