Comparison between Fascinating Pen Flourishing and Ornate Pictorial Calligraphy

So today I’d like to post comparisons between two wonderful books. 

On left is EA Lupfer’s Ornate Pictorial Calligraphy reprinted by Dover. You can buy it for about $8 on Amazon, and is an absolutely amazing book to own. In fact it is the book that got me interested in pointed pen calligraphy. I’ll refer it here as the Modern book. On the right is the original 1951 book printed by the Zaner Bloser company (the company EA Lupfer worked for) which the book on the left is a reprint of, so let’s call it the Original. You can still find it at Scranton Uni’s store for $25 along with other amazing books.

The front page of the Original book.

The two books are almost identical except for a few differences. For examples, here on left is the Modern and on the right is the Original.. and you can see they edited out the parts about using the Zanerian penholder and nib. Which makes sense, as these items are not available anymore and may be confusing to the modern reader.

Similarly on this page, the ads for prints and artwork has been edited out. How I wish I can still send in $1 for a 22x28in print of Zaner’s flourished eagle.

Some pages are exactly the same. Both are crisp and beautiful and easy to read. 

However, some artworks were flipped. On the left, the large flourish was flipped from the original.. I guess it makes the word ‘Beauty’ easier to read, but I can’t think why else they chose to edit only that one flourish and not the others. Weird!

This last page was completely deleted in the Modern book. I guess they don’t want anyone to go around ordering a set of handsome design cards for only $0.35/dozen. Sigh.. if only we still could!

These two beautiful inkwells were engraved and submitted to auction at IAMPETH last year by Neil McCaffrey. These brass and stainless steel inkwells are my very favorite to use, even though they are pretty pricey. You can see where the bid keeps going up.. unfortunately I did not win it! It would have been nice to bring home as a souvenir.

Hello Schin. I've been following for quite some time now. Love your work. Most envious. 2 questions. 1) could you use white paint on a nib, instead if white Indian ink? 2) I live in Canada, and would be up for your 'annoy the mailman' thing. Only I don't have a scanner. I have a lovely DSLR Camera, that I know how to shoot (canon T3i). Can I still take part in it?

Asked by eighttwoone-821

Hello! Thank you and I’m glad you like my work!

1) Sure! You can use gouache and all kinds of white paint on a nib. As long as it flows well, you can mix it and apply it to the nib using a brush. Just make sure not to let the ink dry on the nib and clean it very well.

2) That’s okay too, as long as you can send me a stamp and able to take good frontal pictures of the envelope, you can participate in Annoy A Postman project. For US residents, please send a valid USPS forever stamp (US$0.49) and for international addresses, please send US stamps worth US$1.15. These are the stamps I will be using to mail the envelope to you, so if they are not valid, it will not arrive to you! You can buy unused USPS stamps on ebay. 

If it's not too late, I'd love to do the annoy a mailman project. I'll commandeer a couple envelopes from work (though I can't promise the paper quality will be very good). I've got a scanner at work, too. The postal service here hand-sorts stuff if it's odd-sized or the machines don't read it, but I wouldn't be surprised if they send it back to you.

Asked by jessthemullet

Sure, you’re not too late! It’s an ongoing project. Just send me the stamp and your details, don’t worry about envelopes. I will be using my own. Here’s the details for those who want to join in the Annoy a Postman project.

Annoy A Postman!

So I was doing one of my overly-flourished envelopes last night, and wondered… how far can I push it? Just how many more flourishes can I add before the postman throws up his/her hands in despair? Will they give up and send it back or will they persevere to mail it? Therefore.. with your help, I propose a little experiment!

99% of my envelopes arrive to their recipients (shocking, I know), but only because I always restrain myself, or else my pen pals would never hear from me. But.. if I could have some volunteers who don’t mind their names and addresses shared on the blog, I could really go crazy, mail it out, wait a few days and see if it actually arrives, and in what condition. I will then post a Before and After picture to see what makes it through and what doesn’t. Wanna help me?

How to join:

  • Mail me a letter to: 
    Schin Loong, 631 N. Stephanie St #510 Henderson, NV 89014
    Please include an unused USPS Forever stamp, a note with your name, full address and email address. Mark clearly that this is for the Annoy a Postman project.You can include a letter too!
  • I will email you before sending the envelope to give you a heads up. You must respond to this email!
  • Within 10 days (usual timeline for a first class usps letter to arrive), please let me know if you have received your envelope.. if so, please scan it in along with any markings, yellow stickers or notes on it and email it to me. That’s the fun part, I want to see its scars! I will check my own postbox too in case it returns to me… and if it does, I will likewise scan it in and post about its failure to complete its mission.


  • You must consent to your name and address being published on the envelope (if it arrives). It could be a mailbox, business or PO box address.. as long as it is valid. This means I won’t blur or edit out anything.
  • You must keep in contact via email with me and scan the envelope without tampering and email it back to me. Sometimes the postman will scrawl the address on, or stick a sticker on, or something.. I wanna see it all! Then I will post a before and after comparison.
  • You must have a scanner.. no camera photos please.
  • I prefer US addresses for now. International postage will be too tricky, unless you can figure out a way to send me $1.15 in USPS stamps!

So what do you think? Wanna see if you will receive a Openinkstand-goes-bonkers envelope? Or maybe it will not arrive at all and bounce back to me! No matter what, it will surely at least annoy a postman!

I found this lovely Thank You note card set in Barnes and Noble. It looked very nice in the package.. a tasteful Thank You note and monarch butterfly on linen.. and for a great price too! Only $8.99 for 14 cards!

I had very high hopes for it! 

I love the little butterfly and the small Thank You font. It’s very elegant!

Unfortunately the envelope paper is not up to standard. I wrote a name in gold and already it was bleeding through the paper. Not very nice when your recipient pulls out the card..

The actual paper of the note card isn’t much either. You know how sometimes a paper can inspired good calligraphy? This one doesn’t.

Not bad for $8.99 but not for calligraphy.