Saturday, October 10, 2009

Squiggly 1


Deborah Barker
d. 1738
Men of Kent Cemetery
Scituate, MA

HERE LIES Ye
BODY OF MRS
DEBORAH BARKER
WIFE OF MR
SAMUEL BARKER
JUNR WHO DEPARTED
THIS LIFE DESEMBER
ye. 11. 1738. AGED
20 YEERS & 26
DAYES & HAD BEEN
MARRIED BUT 26 DAYES

3 comments:

RJO said...

I've noticed that the unnamed Stonecutter of Boston was very fond of elaborate swash 1's. Here's a random example.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

I was just in Malden today and saw that very stone. Do you know anything about the origins of these embellished Arabic numbers?

RJO said...

I don't really. In typography letters with ornate tails are called swash letters, and any good font of type will have a selection of swash capitals for ornamentation. These in turn derive from the calligraphic tradition of ornate initials. You don't usually see swash numerals in printing, however.

Since these swash numerals are common on stones by The Stonecutter of Boston, the earliest carver known, I'd say you'd have to look to England for possible sources. I've noticed that both Park and Dwight stones in the 1700s often have fairly marked swash 1's and 7's (sometimes swash-left and sometimes swash-right; I haven't worked out a pattern). My guess is that there isn't any deep significance to it apart from the chronological idiosyncrasies of individual carvers, perhaps inherited ultimately from the Stonecutter of Boston.