and bio taken with permission from Michael Sullís Spencerian Script and Ornamental
Penmanship, Volume I.)
John D. Williams
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the year 1829, John D. Williams was known as one of
the finest Offhand Flourishing penmen who ever lived. As with many of the
master penmen, he showed an interest in handwriting from his early childhood,
and this manifested itself in the discipline of offhand flourishing. Mr.
Williams first gained prominence through the advertising of Peter Duff,
proprietor of Duff's Commercial College in Pittsburgh, in whose employ the
young penman was for a number of years. It was during this tenure that John D.
Williams is given credit for originating many of the flourishing designs since
attempted by penmen. In 1866 he produced a great quantity of remarkable
flourishes, and with Mr. Silas Packard (yet another great penman from the
past), published Packard and Williams' Gems of Penmanship. In later years, he
gave much attention to the preparation of his work for engraving in future
publications. He died at the age of 42 in January 1871.