Saturday, February 14, 2009


My dad is an excellent calligrapher. As a kid I saw him writing charters and diploma's on a weekly basis. I was not allowed to lean against the table he was writing on though; as clumsy as kids can be he was afraid I would nudge his arm by accident. At some point he was overtaken by the computer and the demand of handwritten documents diminished. I shamelessly took advantage by calling his calligraphy books mine and stored them on my bookshelves.
Today those books can be frequently found on my working table. One book has my particular interest because it has a small section about calligraphic decorations, known as 'krullentrekkerij' in Dutch. (Figuratively speaking krullentrekkerij means something unnecessary, something with too much frills. It's kind of an old fashioned word, you don't hear it very often nowadays). Frilly is exactly what krullentrekkerij literally is. Or 'ornamental pen flourishing' as it's called in English. It's the calligraphic decoration -curls or objects made from curls like hearts or animals- that is used to embellish a calligraphic text. They were often made out of one single pen stroke. Wood type printing is also known for its curly embellishments but those ornaments have a more simpler style and are a composition of several separate lines. Objects in wood type ornaments are often line illustrations in stead of an illustration done with one (pen) line.

It's clear that I inherited a love for type from my dad and that's why a curly (or typographic) detail often finds it's way into my work. Below are some beautiful examples of pen flourishing that I'd like to share. Part comes from my dad's books, part I found on the internet.

First pic: Flourishes from the 18th century. Above: Aphorism by Broeders, 17th century. Both from: Calligraphy, Arti picture encyclopedia

Portrait of Charles II & detail Source

From: 'Ornamental Pen desgins and Flourishes' by Carol Belanger Grafton

Johann Losenawer, 1739 Source

Dutch stamps Source


- Here's a link to a nice website on rare calligraphy books.
- A book with plenty pen flourishing examples, available at Amazon.


  1. Ha, een fijne lecture.
    Mooie laatste Noodles.

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