Exhibit Celebrates 125th Anniversary of Penmanship School


         The University of Scranton Weinberg Memorial Library’s Special Collections will present “Penmen, Artists, and Educators: 125 Years of the Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Company” in the fifth-floor Heritage Room from Monday, Feb. 11, through Sunday, April 14. The exhibit will be on display, free of charge, during library hours.

          The Weinberg Memorial Library houses the Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection, which is one of the most extensive collections of American ornamental penmanship from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

         The exhibit will focus on the company from its beginnings as a penmanship school in Columbus, Ohio, in 1888 through the middle of the 20th century. The exhibit will also include some material from the latter 20th and early 21st centuries. While previous exhibits from this collection have focused on pen flourishings and examples of calligraphy, this exhibit will feature the educational and classroom focus that Zaner-Bloser relied upon to survive as the premier penmanship educational publisher of the 21st century. It will include a selection of penmanship manuals and periodicals from both Zaner-Bloser, photographs of penmanship instruction, penmanship teaching aids, a variety of pens created by the company, and examples of fine penmanship and pen flourishing.

         The company was founded in 1888 by Charles P. Zaner as the Zanerian School of Penmanship. Elmer W. Bloser purchased a share of the company in 1891 and in 1895 the school changed its name to the Zaner-Bloser Company. Zaner-Bloser Inc, a subsidiary of Highlights for Children since 1972, continues to be a leader in the field of penmanship instruction. Originally, the school prepared students for careers as penmen. Penmen often worked in business, preparing ledgers, writing correspondence and creating documents before the invention of the typewriter. Zaner-Bloser also taught students to become teachers of penmanship, illustrators and engravers, as well as engrossers, who employ the type of ornamental writing used for diplomas and certificates. During the 20th century Zaner-Bloser concentrated on the education market providing manuals, teaching aids and other materials for elementary schools.

         “Penmen, Artists, and Educators: 125 Years of the Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Company” will open in tandem with the “American Hands” exhibit, also on display in the Heritage Room, which features Sally Wiener Grotta’s visual celebration of traditional trades artisans, such as blacksmiths, weavers, spinners, glassblowers, bookbinders and rug makers. A lecture and reception is planned for Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Heritage Room. The event is free and open to the public.

         For more information, contact Michael Knies, special collections librarian, at 941-6341 or Michael.Knies@Scranton.edu.

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