Newton C. Brewster Penmanship Collection

Collection Guide


Materials related to the Automatic Shading Pen, including advertisements and instructions for using the pen, as well as writing samples demonstrating lettering with the pen in black and colored ink.
Newton C. Brewster
Date Range
Early 1890s - early 1900s
56 items

Access and Use

Digital Access

Selected items from this collection have been digitized and are publicly accessible online.

Physical Access

The collection is open for research. Physical materials may be browsed by appointment in the Reading Room of the University Archives and McHugh Special Collections.


Items in this collection are believed to be in the public domain.

Preferred Citation

[Item Title], Newton C. Brewster Penmanship Collection, McHugh Special Collections, The University of Scranton.

Linked Data


Bookseller Description

Collection of 56 items including Writing Samples of Engrossing by N. C. Brewster Using the Automatic Shading Pen Promoted by W. J. Brown. William J. Brown. Dansville, NY. 1893 - 1905. The Automatic Shading Pen allowed the user to write with two shades of ink in every single stroke. Designed for bookkeepers, clerks, merchants, or anyone looking to create "rapid attractive letters." This collection includes two circulars advertising the pen, along with six sample pages provided by the company to showcase how the writing would look. These printed samples provided by the company are printed samples of the same sheet of paper in several different colors. While the first circular is from N. C. Brewster, a penman for the Automatic Shading Work and Supplies in Elmira, NY, the second circular asks for all orders to be addressed to W. J. Brown Jr in Dansville, NY. It appears as though Brown as the local representative for the company.

It would appear that in order to sell this product William J. Brown was given several writing samples. These samples were made by Newton C. Brewster, a penman who was associated with Elmira Business College, in Elmira, NY. These practice sheets are what make up the bulk of the collection, and several of them are stamped with "From N. C. Brewster, Penman." There are seventeen sheets of paper where Brewster practiced writing the alphabet in a variety of different fonts. The fonts he used were: Back hand, Block, Open Hand, Old English, Box Marking, Ornamental, Back Hand Block, and German Text. There are twenty-one additional practice samples of invites, names, calling cards, envelopes, merit awards, and designs. Included in that count are six different samples of the phrase "The Automatic Shading Pen" and four samples with "Elmira Business College." These samples very in font, color and design; often with ribbons or stalks of grain worked into the design. Newton C. Brewster used a multitude of ink colors in this samples, such as red, purple, green, pink, blue, brown, black, gold, and orange.

Along with the writing samples are several materials that were obviously used for reference. There are four cutouts from newspaper depicting a sampling of several ornate fonts, 3 small sheets of alphabets in script from different sources, and The Western Penman magazine from September of 1893. Brewster is mentioned in the magazine on page 12, where it states that he is a "talented penman, recently of Elmira NY, Business College, [and recently] has been engaged with the Toronto Business College, Toronto, Canada, where he may now be found expatiating on the beauties of muscular movement." Lastly there are two random pieces of ephemera: a blank bank note from the 'Citizens Bank of Dansville' and an envelope address to Brown. Measures 11" x 8 1/2" (Largest); 3 1/2" x 2 3/4 (Smallest).

Acquisition Information

Purchased in 2017.

Processing Notes


Selected materials from this collection were digitized in-house in 2017 using Epson flatbed scanners. Items were scanned in TIFF format at 600 dpi in 24-bit color.


Handwritten items were transcribed by Library staff. Searchable text was generated for printed materials using optical character recognition (OCR).