Oxford Library offers a unique collection displaying American penmanship

The Merritt Russell American Ornamental Penmanship showcases Spencerian Script
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:28 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OXFORD, NY (WBNG) -- Retired Oxford Academy Music Teacher Merritt Russell was looking for a new hobby. He decided to give writing in American Ornamental Penmanship a try.

Merritt Russell found the writing technique known as Spencerian Script fascinating. He enjoyed the dramatic font sizes, the swirl of the letters and the occasional drawing mixed in with the writing.

Merritt Russell’s collection quickly grew. It now lives at the Oxford Memorial Library for the public to view.

“The [Russell] Family was generous enough to do this,” said Oxford Memorial Library Director Nancy Wilcox. “They wanted to make it more available to other people that were into this art form.”

Spencerian Script is named after Platt Rogers Spencer, who is often credited as the original master penman. Merritt Russell found some documents in Spencerian Script when he was working at Oxford Academy and ventured on his own master penman journey.

“He found the penmanship to be very beautiful and was very curious about it,” said Merrit Russell’s son Scott Russell. “He was a man that was always in search of a hobby especially as it related to the arts,”

Merritt Russell created wedding and graduation invitations, award certificates and many more documents using ornamental penmanship. He also made personal cards for his family.

“He would write us letters and birthday cards in the handwriting,” said Scott Russell. “My mom has a number of special things that he created for her.”

Merritt Russell died in 2007 but his collection is a legacy. Now, the public has a chance to look through the different pieces of writing and can admire the beauty of his penmanship.