Copperplate calligraphy or the Pointed Pen method as it is known today originated during the early part of the 18th century and is a style of calligraphy which utilizes a pointed nib as opposed to the more traditional flat nib. The reason for its emergence was a need for a type of writing in England that could be used for commercial purposes. Later on however two different Copperplate styles came into use; the bolder writing for business purposes and a narrow and light writing for ladies.
The name Copperplate Calligraphy comes from the books that were used by students to learn the Copperplate writing from. Although today we use pens to write Copperplate Calligraphy, these copybooks were actually made using copper plates which were engraved on by experts. The writing was carefully etched backwards onto the copper plates and then used as stencils for the printing of the books.
The style of writing Copperplate Calligraphy varies from other types as the line thickness of the letters is dependent upon the pressure applied on the nib, instead of the nib’s angle when writing. Copperplate calligraphy is usually written with the nib almost perpendicular to the paper. As the alternate name Pointed Pen Method suggests, Copperplate calligraphy requires a sharp, pointed and flexible nib.
If you are interested in learning the art of Copperplate Calligraphy, its best to get started with a good quality fine ball point pen. As you master the letter formations you can then start using something more suited for Copperplate Calligraphy such as a quill pen. The ideal ink for this purpose would be a non- waterproof ink, best of course in black color, while a fine quality legal pad would do the job as paper.
According to experts in the art of Copperplate Calligraphy, as you get better it would be ideal to start using an elbow pen and the paper would need to be a tablet of 100% rag, white bond. The ink should not be India ink, rather just plain fountain pen ink.
The bottom line for learning Copperplate calligraphy is just to master the art of writing the capital letters, small letters, numbers and some symbols in copperplate script.
Some Copperplate calligraphy teachers stress that it is best to start learning the art with the proper materials, instead of using a ball point pen, but the choice will eventually depend on the teacher you choose to follow as the techniques to success are many and varied.