Palatino's Tools of Handwriting

Giovanni Battista Palatino (ca.1515-ca.1575), Libro di M. Giovambattista Palatino cittadino romano: nel qual s’insegna à scriuere ogni sorte lettera, antica, & moderna di qualunque natione ([Rome: M. Guidotto & D. Viotto, 1556]). Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

Originally published in 1540 with the title, Libro nuovo d’imparare a scrivere, Palatino’s writing manual/encyclopedia of current writing styles became an immediate and popular success. It was reprinted several times and then, in 1545 a new revised and enlarged edition was published with 15 additional plates and more exotic alphabets.

The first printed writing manual was published in Rome by Ludovico degli Arrighi in 1522. The audience for this and others that followed was mostly secretaries. Palatino’s book somehow attracted a wider audience, with its chapter on cryptography and lettera mancina (mirror writing), recipes for ink, illustrations of a variety of writing implements, and so on.

According to Ewan Clayton in his essay “A History of Learning to Write,”

Palatino’s book is interesting for what it tells us about the ordinary writing of that time. Most documents in the sixteenth century were still written in varieties of Gothic cursive and Palatino illustrates examples of such hands from Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence, Sienna, and Genoa. …Writing was not as homogeneous as it is today and there were many different styles in use concurrently.

For other editions and translations at Princeton University, continue below.

Giovanni Battista Palatino (ca.1515-ca.1575), Compendio del gran volume di l’arte del bene et leggiadramante scrivere tutte le sorti de lettere et caratteri (Venice: Heredi di Marchio Sessa,. 1578). Includes alphabets in exotic scripts like Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldean. Cotsen Children’s Library (CTSN) European 18 3967

Giovanni Battista Palatino (ca.1515-ca.1575), The tools of handwriting: from Palatino’s writing manual of 1540, Un nuovo modo d’imparare, introduced, translated, & printed by A. S. Osley (Wormley: Glade Press, 1972) Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), 2007-0218N

Palatino, Giovanni Battista Palatino (ca.1515-ca.1575), The instruments of writing, translated by Henry K. Pierce; to which is added a partial translation of Ludovico degli Arrighi’s “The method of cutting a pen” Rome, 1523 by Erich A. O’D. Taylor (Newport, R.I.: Berry Hill Press, c1953). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), 2007-0206N

Three classics of Italian calligraphy: an unabridged reissue of the writing books of Arrighi, Tagliente, Palatino (New York: Dover Publications, c1953) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Z43.A3 T5

Giovanni Battista Palatino (ca.1515-ca.1575), Libro nvovo d’imparare a scrivere tvtte sorte lettere antiche et moderne di tvtte nationi, con nvove regole misvre et essempi. Con vn breue & vtile trattato de le cifere ... ([Roma: Baldassarre di Francesco Cartolari, 1540] Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books, NK3600 .P18