The history of writing

The Sumerian Wedged Handwriting is an old form of the Handwriting known today. These people lived in between Euphrat and Tigris.

The history of writing

 
Pelikan Federkasten "Graphos"
Pelikan´s nib set "Graphos"
Höhlenmalereiapprox. 50,000 years ago

Mountain carvings are the oldest know artworks of Mankind. Mysterious pictures and symbols were either painted with natural colour on stone or engraved on wood or bones using sharp tools.

approx. 3000 BC

 

Karte: Mittlerer Osten

The Sumerian Wedged Handwriting is an old form of the Handwriting known today. These people lived in between Euphrat and Tigris. Nowadays this area belongs to Iraq.

Keilschrift auf Tontafel
Wedged Handwriting on a clay board

Using a triangular tool the signs were wedged onto damp clay boards and later left to dry or burnt.
The direction of the Handwriting varied as it was sometimes written from right to left and on other occasions from left to right.

 

near 3000 BC

Karte: Mittelmeer

A form of Handwriting using pictures was found in Egypt: The Hieroglyphics. Herbs were used to create the first antique writing paper in the form of either sheets or rolls. To write they used ink and reeds.

 
Hieroglyphen
The names Kleopatra and Ptolemäus in Hieroglyphics

The old Egyptian Hieroglyphic Handwriting consisted of about one thousand signs. The training for a writer began at the age of five lasted 12 to 13 years!

approx. 2000 - 1500 BC

The next development came from a group of sea traders from the coast of Syria, the Phoenicians. Their core business was with the Egyptians. Having been inspired by the Egyptian Hieroglyphics they invented a breakthrough system of letters that was to become the very first alphabet. It consisted of 22 letters (consonants). It was from this alphabet that the Europeans later developed their own system of Handwriting. The word alphabet consists of the two first letters in the Greek alphabet: alpha and bet(a).

 

approx. 1200 - 700 BC

Karte: Griechenland

It was in this era that the Greek Handwriting was developed.
For this the Greeks took inspiration from the Syrian sea traders. In doing so, they completed a vital step for the development of Handwriting. With the invention of vowels they finished what was to be the worlds first complete alphabet. It had 24 letters. It was the Greek Handwriting that inspired the Latin Handwriting, which is what we still use up till now.

63 BC - 14 AD

It was during the reign of Emperor Augustus that the classical Capital Handwriting had its finest moments. The Romans could not imagine their great temples or other creations without inscriptions of some sort.

Römischer Triumphbogen
Roman Arc of Triumph

This early form of Latin Handwriting laid the foundations for many different Handwriting styles that were yet to be developed in Europe. During the course of time a difference between capital and small letters developed, which eventually lead to the current Handwriting styles.

12. - 15. century

Deutsches Lesebuch von 1914
German text book from 1914

It was in this time that the Gothic Handwriting surfaced.
The Gothic style was still being used up to 1927 in German books. In this style a main emphasis was made on the beginning letters as seen in our example with the letter E.

Gotisches E
Gothic E

around 1445

Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing systems for books. It was during this period that the main differences between Handwriting and Printed words developed.

Antiqua
Roman Italic

15. century

The Germans created their own style of Handwriting: Suetterlin.
From here onwards the usage of Suetterlin and Latin Handwriting coincided.

19. and 20. century

The Germans created their own style of Handwriting: Suetterlin.
From here onwards the usage of Suetterlin and Latin Handwriting coincided.

Sütterlin in einem dt. Lesebuch um 1927
1927: Suetterlin in a German book.

1941

The Germans regular style (Normalschrift) was introduced.

 

today

Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift

In Lower Saxony the simplified Handwriting (vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift) style is most commonly taught at schools. In other regions of Germany different styles of Handwriting are being taught at schools. For these cases Pelikan offers a very special service. Each one of these different Handwriting styles can be downloaded on our homepage to your computer free of charge. These different styles can then be used to compose tasks for students or for writing letters.