When reflecting on elementary school penmanship lessons, it’s safe to say very few pupils would consider them a time of great self expression or creativity. For Jake Weidmann, though, it’s an artform.
At 30 years old, Weidmann is the youngest Master Penman in the world by three decades, and one of only twelve who can claim that title. Master Penmen are deemed as such by the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH), an organization that promotes and preserves the craft of handwriting in an age when the keyboard is king.
The title of Master Penman dates back to the post-Civil War era, when impeccable handwriting was considered integral to success. To graduate penmanship school, students had to create their own certificates, and those of the highest quality earned the coveted designation (see Weidmann's certificate on his Facebook page).
In this video from Uproxx showcasing Weidmann and his work, both he and Michael Sull, of the Master Penmanship Program at IAMPETH, pay homage to Platt Rogers Spencer, a man Weidmann calls “the creator of American penmanship.”
Weidmann and Sull want to use IAMPETH and their work in the form to encourage people to fall in love with handwriting and penwork as well as appreciate its value for developing thoughts and expressing oneself.
“We’re people, we’re not machines,” says Sull. “If the Declaration of Independence was written as an email, how special or personal would that be?”