Tuesday, August 18

Old Hand

This isn't a letter or anything, and it's not even anything I made. Three years ago I visited Fort Snelling on Independence Day weekend, where they host an event called "Ft. Snelling 1827." They dress up as soldiers and various workers, making things, standing guard, playing games, etc., just as the soldiers and settlers had back then.

What this is, is a trading inventory. It was a list of the exchange rate of various pelts, where muskrat is apparently the standard. If you had a buffalo skin, you could trade that in for 15 muskrats, according to this list. Or perhaps it was that if you brought in 20 muskrats, you could come away with one "pound of beaver."

That's all well and good, and obviously those rates have changed since then, but what's interesting to me is the handwriting. This was a merchant's script, fairly quick and casual. It had to be a swift handscript in order to make it efficient and worthwhile, in the course of doing business. It also had to be legible, so anyone could peruse it without much trouble.

I think this handwriting is gorgeous, and I'm envious of how nice it looks. There was a time in my own italic hand drills that I realized I was close to practicing a form of cursive not dissimilar to this font. What inspired me to finally pursue this handwriting was two movies: Hannibal and Sleepy Hollow. In each, the main character exhibits a gorgeous, flowing script. In the latter case, even, it looks a little spooky and I've never been able to figure out why. Is it the antiquity? Is it the strength of a hardened people conditioned to roughing it in nature, when technology hadn't made us soft nor veiled us from the potency of supernatural Earth?

But I'm rambling, now. I just wanted my handwriting to look that nice. I tried it for a while and even wrote letters to friends in this strange Declaration of Independence handwriting, but it was never very good. I'll have to practice it more on my own.

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