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Penmanship is the art of writing clearly and quickly. Different styles of writing have been popular at different times and in different countries, but the standardization of handwriting throughout the English-speaking world began with the publication of The Spencerian Key to Practical Penmanship by Platt Rogers Spencer[?] in 1866. This "Spencerian Method[?]" was taught in schools until about the mid-20th century, when it was phased out in favor of the Palmer Method, introduced by A. N. Palmer[?] in his Palmer's Guide to Business Writing published in 1894.

The result of the switch from Spencer to Palmer resulted in a distinct difference in writing styles between older and younger people; the result was that an "old-fashioned" style of handwriting would identify the writer as elderly. (This was less noticeable in centuries past, due to the lack of standardization.) However, since the Palmer Method continues to be taught into the 21st century, barring a change to a newer cursive method this distinction will probably disappear as older Spencer-method writers die out (although it will remain valuable in the dating of manuscripts).

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