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Master Penman Bill Lilly


William A. (Bill) Lilly was born in Marion Kentucky in 1927. Bill displayed an interest in and appreciation of art as a boy. His interest developed into a talent that was encouraged by his parents and enjoyed by his family and friends. During these early years, Penmanship was an integral part of the school curriculum in America and Bill's abilities with a pen showed early promise that grew with time. In the late 40's, while Bill was attending Western Kentucky State Teachers College, Professor of Penmanship G.G. Craig became impressed with his student's abilities and advised him to refine his skills by attending the Zanerian College of Penmanship in Columbus, Ohio. The Zanerian was considered the foremost American school of penmanship and engrossing at that time. Bill took Professor Craig's advice and enrolled. There his natural talent was enhanced by the expert teaching of the master penmen at the college, E.A. Lupfer and Palmer Bloser, while he was exposed to all aspects of the engrossing art, from broad pen lettering in Old English and German Text styles to the more demanding Engrosser's script. This last he especially loved and it became his primary interest. Mastering the beautiful 400-year-old script, with its disciplined contrast of fine hairlines and shades, its elegant simple and compound curves and its graceful flow, required long hours of concentrated study and practice. Bill's study at the Zanerian was rewarded in two ways: during his last six months there he was employed by the commercial arm of the Zaner-Bloser enterprise as a professional writer of script and then earned a coveted Gold Seal Certificate of Merit, the top award given by the college (see certificate below).

Bill Lilly’s Gold Seal Zanerian Certificate

The Lilly Oblique penholder:

You can email Mr. Lilly at: swlilly@aol.com

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