An Influential Piece of Calligraphy

Producers Council Award Hoyt detail

This traditionally engrossed diploma is a piece of calligraphy from my personal past. When I was in the second grade, my father decided to improve his career and went back to college to get a degree in architecture. For the next five years, he went to school full time and worked full time. Sometimes on weekends we would drive around and look at different kinds of buildings and houses. His academic performance was stellar enough for him to receive this special award from the Producer’s Council upon his graduation from The Ohio State  University, in 1966, with a degree from the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in the College of Engineering. He graduated on June 14, and what I mainly remember was the sight of thousands of graduates throwing their mortarboards into the air in the OSU stadium, a very jubilant event!

Producers Council Award Hoyt detail

This award had actually been given to him a month before. Years later, examining both of his framed diplomas from The Ohio State University, I suddenly realized that this one was completely made by hand, unlike the “boilerplate” one issued by the university. Columbus was the home of the Zanerian School of Penmanship, founded in 1888 and the most famous school of penmanship in the country. This calligraphy is a fair latter day example of this style of calligraphy, with its heavy-footed engrosser’s bookhand and medieval influences in the title lettering. The shadow effect under the top lettering is a technique straight out of the still-available Zanerian Manual of Alphabets and Engrossing, done by turning the paper sideways and using the rinse water to create the shadows.

Dads OSU Graduation 1966

This family portrait taken on the day my dad graduated shows my mom holding that diploma as if she had earned it (and certainly she contributed mightily to his success by managing the home while he was earning a living while completing a five-year course of difficult study). Here also you can see the unrealized scribe at age twelve, mindful of my handwriting but much more intent on learning to sew as well as my mother, wearing the first dress I ever made for myself, and striking a smart-aleck pose. That year, my dad was a grad, and we were all pretty happy about it.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Pat Ferraro 06/14/2013, 2:13 pm

    And you’re still gesturing with that outstretched hand. Nice tribute to your dad and family history. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jane Brenner 06/15/2013, 7:53 am

    Cari, interesting to read as a Columbusite (?) and an OSU grad. Sonya Bloser of the Zaner-Bloser school of handwriting was in my Upper Arlington school, and I remember her though she was older. (There is a repository of work from Z-B that she donated to some college in Pennsylvania.) Maybe your father was in architecture studies at the same time that Thomas Ingmire was getting his degree at OSU in landscape architecture? Do you remember Mirror Lake where we ice skated in winter?

    • Cari 06/15/2013, 10:10 am

      Jane, so nice to connect to you through this post and my last one about the Oakland exhibit where we both showed artwork. I don’t remember Mirror Lake; we left Columbus the same summer my father graduated. It’s possible Thomas shared a few classes with my dad; same school and same graduation year, but he couldn’t be sure he remembered him without seeing a picture of him. Small world, eh?

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