Traditionally, scribes were some of the most important figures in ancient civilizations. They were tasked with keeping written records and transcribing important documents, sacred and religious texts, along with other judicial duties for Kings and Queens, nobles, religious institutions, and ancient cities. Despite this administerial focus, surviving examples show how the written word was once treated as a work of art in itself, something we’ve lost as part of everyday life in the modern world.
Nonetheless, the discipline has persisted and is practiced by a few extremely talented artisans whose knowledge allows them to produce stunning pieces in exacting historical detail. In a world of on-demand printing and email, commissioning a scribe is the ultimate luxury, and the results are unparalleled.
One such artisan is Master Scribe Paul Antonio, who trained as a calligraphy guild and heraldic artist and specializes in the preparation and use of historical tools and materials. Antonio works with CACHE to create beautiful hand-written pieces on commission. One example is a commission includes elegant wedding invitations and envelopes. And another was the reproduction of a letter to Queen Elizabeth I on which was the family’s original coat of arms, which had been long lost.
As a professional scribe Antonio produces beautiful works of calligraphy and heraldic art, reproductions of historical and religious texts as well as branding and logo design. Antonio meticulously researches and reproduces, in exacting and exquisite detail, a tremendous range of scripts from historical to modern lettering. He also develops and customizes new scripts, depending on the commission, using and blending his extensive knowledge of traditional and modern techniques, tools and materials to create stunning and original pieces.
Antonio’s attention to detail is at the heart of each piece; from researching and mixing his own pigments and inks, using the original recipes and traditional ingredients, to preparing his own vellum and parchment. He also takes great pains to research the historical period and context of each piece to ensure the final work is completely accurate. Every piece is breathtaking and is rich with detail, beauty and precision. It is truly a pleasure to watch such a talented artisan work.
According to Antonio, “calligraphic accuracy is contained within letter angles, heights, weights, shapes and underlying rhythm. The letters should move across the page and take the reader on a journey with them. Equally, when you see our envelopes laid out together, they should all look like each other. A testament to our attention to detail!”
“Our particular understanding of historical scripts and calligraphic tools and materials the world over allows us to produce the work… It is from this starting point of knowledge, skill and research [that] we build… Our reproductions of manuscript pages draws on our extensive experience with traditional tools, like quills, and materials, like our own blend of studio ground malachite and gold leaf gilding, laid on vellum and parchment, to recreate something client specific but historical.”
“All these traditional skills allow us to produce artwork for film and television but they also drive us to creating interesting and well balanced logos with the hand generated lettering being the starting point. Our illustration and drawing techniques also give rise to faithful copies of heraldry from any period to illustrating an already existing achievement of arms in a specific period. This can be incorporate into family trees as well.”
His studio is an Aladdin’s cave of papers and parchments, pens and quills, ink bottles and blocks of pigment, reference books and examples of work. The walls are draped with heavy curtains, making the space totally silent, allowing Antonio to work without the distractions of the city outside and the distractions of modern life. In these monastic like surroundings, it’s easy to imagine scribes of old working fixedly on a script with an uninterrupted, almost hypnotic, elegance.
Having worked as a scribe for 25 years Antonio’s clients currently include Tiffany & Co., Asprey, Jo Malone, the BAFTAs and the British Museum, among other commercial and private clients who return to him time and again for beautiful hand-written pieces as well as museums that rely on his extensive knowledge and experience of script history.
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“Welcome” video created for the Plowden Legacy, written by Paul Antonio.