Alphabets

Alphabets - Body

Look Closely

A gray-green linen with the alphabet stitched within a border of lines and flowers.

Elizabeth N. Andrews, Alphabet Sampler, no date, silk on linen. Gail-Oxford Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

An open book with the text “Penmanship” and “Writing is almost as important as speaking” on the left page and a decorated alphabet on the right side.

Welbyʼs Book of Alphabets, for Ornamental Penmen, Professional Letterers, and Students, with Practical Directions for Lettering, Illuminating, etc., 1880, Edward Welby (author), Hall and Whiting (publisher). Diana Korzenik Collection of Art Education Ephe

A teal and lime green vertical bar on the left that says “Time to sort!” with a light green and light purple venn diagram in the middle where one circle says Alphabet Sampler,” one says “Welby’s Book of Alphabets,” and the middle says “Both.”

Review the terms that describe both images. Which facts go in the same area of the diagram? Which facts go in each different area of the diagram?

  • Alphabet
  • Letters
  • Edward Welby
  • Hall and Whiting
  • 1880
  • No date
  • Penmanship
  • Elizabeth N. Andrew
  • Silk on linen
  • Book
  • Cursive
  • Capital letters
  • People
  • A B C
  • Embroidered
  • The Huntington's collection
  • Flowers
  • Lowercase
  • Animals
  • Aged 9 years

A teal and lime green vertical bar on the left that says “Answers” with a light green and light purple venn diagram in the middle where one circle says “Alphabet Sampler,” one says “Welby’s Book of Alphabets,” and the middle says “Both” and the answers listed in each.

Answers

Alphabet Sampler

  • Elizabeth N. Andrews
  • Silk on linen
  • No date
  • Embroidered
  • Cursive
  • Flowers
  • Lowercase
  • Aged 9 years

Both

  • Alphabet
  • Letters
  • Capital letters
  • The Huntington's collection
  • A B C

Welby's Book of Alphabets

  • Edward Welby
  • Hall and Whiting
  • 1880
  • Book
  • Penmanship
  • Animals
  • People

Learn about the alphabets

A gray-green linen with the alphabet stitched within a border of lines and flowers.

  • This is a sampler made by Elizabeth N. Andrews when she was just 9 years old. A sampler is an embroidered work made by hand with a needle and thread (like silk) and created as a way to practice stitching letters, numbers, and even decorations like flowers. Do you ever practice writing letters, words, or the alphabet?
  • Oftentimes, a sampler would show an alphabet stitched in a variety of styles. In this sampler, there are UPPERCASE, cursive, and lowercase letters stitched in neat rows.
  • Of the three styles of letters, which one is your favorite? Why?
  • Since this alphabet was stitched with silk on linen, imagine running your fingers over the top. What textures do you feel? Smooth? Bumpy? Do you think you could feel each stitched letter? Use your finger in the air to trace out each letter as you imagine how it would feel.
An open book with the text “Penmanship” and “Writing is almost as important as speaking” on the left page and a decorated alphabet on the right side.

  • This shows two pages from an instructional book for penmanship, or writing. It could have been used by a variety of people, including students.
  • The book shows different fonts, or types of letters. There are lines underneath the letters to allow people to practice copying the letters themselves. Want to see some other fonts in the book? Click here! Try practicing one of these alphabets. Which one would you choose? Why? Is it easy or difficult to copy?
  • The letters on this page were designed to include people, animals, and objects. If you zoom in to view this page, you might spy a snake, a fish, a person with an umbrella, and even two keys!
  • On the left page is the phrase “Writing is almost as important as speaking.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
  • Of the letters illustrated or drawn here, which one is your favorite? Why?

Questions

  • What did you notice about object 1, Alphabet Sampler?
  • What did you notice about object 2, Welbyʼs Book of Alphabets?
  • How are they the same?
  • How are they different?
  • What did you learn?
  • Which alphabet style did you like best? Why?

Activity

Style your own alphabet

Materials: Piece of paper, and something to write with (pencil, crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc.)

Time: 10 minutes

Steps:

  1. Create your own style for the alphabet. Will you write in all UPPERCASE? Will you alternate between UPPERCASE and lowercase? Will you create drawings as part of your lettering, like the page in Welbyʼs Book of Alphabets? You can even experiment with different colors. It is up to you. Be creative!
  2. Once you know what style you want to create, write your styled alphabet on your piece of paper!

We would love to see your work!

Please take a picture of your Venn diagram. Then post it on social media and tag The Huntington!
#LearnAtTheH