A few months ago a few of us here in the office were bemoaning the fact that cursive handwriting is no longer taught in elementary school. And with our constant communication via Facebook, Twitter, and email very few of us send or receive handwritten letters. Last week I was extremely fortunate to get a special visit to the University of Michigan Library's Papyrology Collection.
Arthur Verhoogt hosted us and pulled a few choice items from the collection for us to view. The pieces are under glass, but we could lift up the items, look at them from the front and the back, and hold them inches away from our faces. One was a letter from a soldier to his mother. He had just arrived in Rome and reassured her that he was safe and all was well and that he missed her and his family. We looked at one of the earliest copies of the “Epistles of St. Paul”. I noted that the scribe carefully considered type weight, linespacing, and layout on the page. Graphic design from the late second/early third century!!!
One of my favorites was a doodle. A “Sketch of an Elephant with Two Figures” from the fifth or sixth century that was found on the back of an invitation.
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