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The Victorian family who wrote the family letters and decorated them were known as the ‘Ladies’ and they wrote them on the inside of the brush pen.
They made the letters in the style of a calligraphist with a brush.
In the 18th century, the Victorian calligrapher, Sir Thomas Colman, was one of the most respected names in the world.
He made the first ‘calligraphic’ letter in 1843 and continued to produce a wide range of letters for over 50 years.
His first letter, from the Duchess of Sussex, was called the ‘Dear Miss’ and it was the first of his many letterpress creations.
It was in his book, The Royal Letters, which was published in 1876, that he described the first brush pen and explained how he could produce these beautiful letters.
Sir Thomas Colmans signature is still widely recognised today.
It is one of several examples of the style used by Sir Thomas, who had been a partner of William Wilkie in 1817 when he started his own business, writing and printing letters and stamps.
In 1822, he sold the business to his cousin, the celebrated printer William Pitt, and continued with his family business.
It’s believed that Sir Thomas wrote the first book on calligraphics.
The Lady in the house was called, in the letters, ‘Widnes, the Duchess’ and she painted the letter in her mother’s signature style.
In 1863, Sir Arthur Young wrote to his mother-in-law saying:’Dear Sir, your letterpress is doing very well, and you have written me a number of letters which I have had the honour to write upon my own hand.
I hope that this may not be too late for you.
I wish to write to you again as soon as possible.
You know my love of your letters, and your desire to write with them in my handwriting is not to be missed.’
In the late 1890s, Sir Charles Stewart, who was also a partner in Wilkie’s business, wrote to Sir Thomas and said:’Your letters have done much for me, and my letters have never before been so beautiful as in my hands.
You must write to me at once, for I must soon have your letters on my desk and will be glad to have them in every one of my letters, just as I am glad to see the letters on the desks of the ladies who are going to write on my behalf.’
Sir Thomas was a keen amateur printer and a pioneer in the art of letterpressing.
He had a large collection of brushes and a large letterpress, with which he was able to produce the best quality letters.
His mother, Elizabeth Stewart, is now believed to have owned a copy of his book.
Sir Charles Stewart was a prolific and accomplished printer.
He had a number other patents issued, including ‘A Letter to Mrs Wydie’ in 1857, ‘A letter to Miss B’ in 1862 and ‘Letter to Mrs. Liza’ in 1889.
Sir James Wylie was born in 1834, the son of William and Mary Wylies, a former member of the royal family.
He was educated at the School of Fine Arts in London and went on to receive a Master of Laws from the University of Bath, where he was a Fellow of the Order of the Bath.
His brother, George Wylier, became a barrister and later became one of his greatest clients, winning a number awards.
In 1909, he married Lady Caroline Wyliet, a widow who had a son, George Arthur.
He died in 1929.
Sir Arthur Young, the first Australian born calligist, died in Melbourne in 1935.
The letters that he wrote to Mrs Wilkie were so well written that his daughter Caroline Wys, who lives in South Australia, says that they were the inspiration for her first book, ‘Carrying on My Mother’s Work’.