- As already mentioned, the available material was a copy of a copy of the original. This must be allowed for in considering quality and evenness of strokes - broken, blotchy, uneven strokes may be a result of repeated photo-copying, and not necessarily have appeared in the original.
- Since the original was apparently written about 350 - 400 years ago (Baldi published in 1625), we must take into account differences in writing-tools, writing-materials, and writing-methods as these affect the writer's self-expression. Writing-materials then available, and even the writing-techniques of the time, were very different from ours, and these differences must be allowed for. CLICK HERE to go to information about the writing-materials this writer apparently used:
- Biographical information on Baldi (shared with me by Bob Backman of the Handwriting Analysis Research Library) shows that Baldi learned to write (at about age 5) from his father, who in turn had been taught by Baldi's grandfather. This can matter in understanding how Baldi originally learned to write - and therefore what features in his handwriting are or are not individual deviations from the taught norm. Parents teaching children how to write often work from their own memories of childhood handwriting lessons - since handwriting-styles change over time, what parents teach may be a generation or so "out of step" with the practice of professional teachers in the same time and place.
- As it happens, the generations before Baldi's had seen some changes in handwriting-styles and standards; so we should not be surprised if we find some features of his handwriting slightly "old-fashioned" for his day and age, partially reflecting script of an earlier generation.
Other than threads, the predominant forms are garlands; there are some arcades, but very few angles. This suggests, graphologically, a friendly and outgoing personality (garlands), having some aptitude for constructive or creative work (arcades), and unlikely to be critical or aggressive (few angles).Neighboring lines of text keep clear and do not "tangle", even given the long and slightly flourished ascenders/descenders (see below for discussion on these).
Graphologically, this would indicate a good ability to keep one's thought-processes clear and organized.
Quality and shape of writing-stroke:
Letters and joins are written with a very "thready" stroke, suggesting a high speed of writing as well as a rapid and perhaps impatient intellect. Other than threads, the predominant forms are garlands; there are some arcades, but very few angles. This suggests, graphologically, a friendly and outgoing personality (garlands), with some aptitude for constructive or creative work (arcades), and unlikely to be critical or aggressive (few angles).
Spacing between words is even and adequate though not excessive. Words are closely spaced, but not too much so for easy reading. This, graphologically speaking, suggests that the writer feels in contact with others but does not have an obsessive need for contact; he does not overwhelm others in word or deed, but allows them breathing-space and their own views. Spacing within words, though, is somewhat irregular in this sample - within many words, there are spaces between letters which are equal to or greater than the spaces between words. Examples of this can be seen between the "b" and "l" in the word "oblasione" (line 5) and between the "d" and "e" in the word "devosione" (line 6). Graphologically, this suggests a writer who has frequent sudden moments of creative inspiration and/or absent-mindedness, during which he interrupts himself with a new idea and loses the previous trend of his thought. When he returns to the matter at hand, it takes him some time to do so, and the transition is not always smooth for him.
This analyst would be willing to bet that - if one could go back in time and listen to Baldi's conversation - one would find that, among his most frequent phrases would have been this: "Now ... where _was_ I?"
However, given what appear to have been his well-organized and rapid thought-processes, this analyst would also be willing to bet that such apparent absent moments were in fact sudden sparks of creative insight and intuition.
Legibility of sample:
This is difficult to evaluate, because the repeated copying to which this sample has been subjected has obscured or "filled in" defining details of letters in some words. However, even after repeated copying, most of the sample can still be read easily, and (in this analysts' experience) many writing-samples which appear partly or entirely illegible as second-generation copies (particularly samples from"thready" writers such as Baldi) are entirely legible in the original handwriting. Therefore, it is this analyst's impression that the original sample, if available, would have been easily and unmistakably legible.
Should this assumption be true, the writer's high legibility (even under high speed) would suggest, graphologically, an intelligent, efficient, but also considerate personality: someone concerned with "getting things done", but also someone who fully realized that "getting things done" involved good communication and co-operation with others, and accommodation to their standards and needs.
(However, it needs to be pointed out that, in the case of handwritings of this era, the combination of high legibility with high speed is not quite as strong an indicator of this as it might be with a modern-day cursive handwriting, because it is easier to reach high legibility in fast writing with a less-looped cursive style such as Baldi wrote than with a "modern" style of cursive in which loops predominate.)
Although the overall slant of the writer is strongly to the right, individual letters and words in this writer's hand often "break away" from that norm and show only a slight rightward slant - so slight as to be almost vertical. Good examples of this are the letter l in "del" (line 3) and "della" (line 5) and the letter p in "parte" (line 3) and "perche" (line 4). Graphologically, this might suggest that, even though the writer might be given to strong emotions, he would at times become visibly less emotional than was "normal" for him (though he would never become entirely un-emotional or withdrawn).
(However - before assigning a graphological significance - please be aware that strong slant in school-models of handwriting is a fairly recent development, which happened in fact within Baldi's early lifetime; previous generations (Baldi's father and grandfather) had been taught to write with only a very slight, nearly vertical slant.
It is therefore probable that the variability of slant in Baldi's writing - overall strong rightward slant momentarily snapping back to a more nearly vertical slant - reflects instructional variation, not character variation.
If Baldi's father (as is probable) taught as he had himself been taught, then it is very probable that the young Baldi originally wrote with only a very slight slant, and that he later (consciously or unconsciously) slanted his writing further right in order to reflect the norm among people his own age instead of people his father's or grandfather's age - with the occasional less-slanted letter still poking stubbornly through as a reminder of his earlier habits.)
Size of writing
The middle zone of this writing is fairly small, graphologically suggesting strong, pragmatically-applied powers of concentration and a high speed of writing (also borne out by the threadiness) which would graphologically indicate rapidity and fluency of thought.
(However, remember that writing we'd today consider quite small in size is typical of this period and of earlier periods - handwriting-models in textbooks, etc. were often written far smaller than is the norm today, as was much personal correspondence. The smallness of the writing, then, may relate less to the character of the writer than to the fact that paper at this time was still a rather costly commodity.)
The upper and lower zones of letters are slightly flourished, and are also noticeably larger than the middle zone of letters: often two or three times as tall.
Both of these factors, however are as prescribed in standard handwriting-models of Baldi's day and the immediately preceding decades - therefore, these items (which would be graphologically significant in most modern handwriting) cannot confidently be assigned any special significance in this sample.
The writing is noticeably devoid of loops in the upper zone, and almost devoid of loops in the lower zone; instead of loops joining letter to letter, we see "stick figures", i.e. straight or slightly curved loopless strokes.
It is also noticeable that the writing is neither totally joined up nor completely devoid of joins, and that many of the capital and lower-case letter-formations (even those that show joins) are done in what would today be identified as a"printed" or "print-like" style of writing, rather than what is conventionally taught as a "cursive" style.
All these features, taken together (semi-joining, "stick figure" ascenders/descenders, "print-like" formations of letters even if joined) would lead many graphologists to classify Baldi's writing as a "print-script" (i.e., a hybrid of printed and cursive writing unconsciously created by someone who has been taught both styles) and to analyze it on that basis.
However, it must be remembered that Baldi lived and wrote while the "Italic" cursive-handwriting technique of the Renaissance technique was still standard throughout Europe (and particularly in his native Italy where it had originated); this type of cursive writing had as yet hardly begun the slow cumulative changes that would (a century or more after his time) eventually change it into the cursive script-styles familiar to most of us today.
Baldi as a child and young man would never at any time have been taught to join up all his letters in cursive writing, because the invention of total joining in handwriting lay still far in the future.
Instead of any fully-joined form of looped cursive, the young Baldi would therefore have gone (like others of his day) from separate letters to a semi-joined cursive in which whether or not one letter joined the next depended on whether the shapes of the letters involved made the particular join easy and natural for the writer without adding loops or changing the basic shapes of the letters.
And those "basic shapes" for letters in cursive writing were not yet - in Baldi's time - different from the shapes used in writing the letters separately.
Similarly, Baldi would never have been shown or expected to follow a looped model of handwriting - loops for cursive handwriting were in Baldi's lifetime only just beginning to become a part of cursive handwriting, which had previously been typified by "stick-figure" or curved-but-loopless strokes for ascenders and descenders (other than g, for which the lower-zone loop had been considered a structural part of the letter: something not then considered true for other letters.)
Therefore, even though his use of "stick figures" instead of loops would be significant if seen in a modern American handwriting, it cannot be confidently assigned any graphological significance in a European handwriting of this era (beyond, of course, showing that the writer was conforming with the standard handwriting-expectations of his place and time).
The only loops evident in Baldi's handwriting are in fact (with the exception of the abbreviation visible - but not legible - in line 1) loops on some (not all) of his lower-case g's - consistent with his childhood training
Such loops as occur, though, are either full (in the case of the g's) or small (in the case of the abbreviation); never are they swollen or over-prominent - graphologically, this suggests that the writer recognized the importance of physical needs but was not ruled by them (a personality trait compatible with success in this writer's profession, medicine) particular letter-formations.
Specific letter-formations which might be considered of graphological interest in Baldi's script include the following:
- several occurrences of "p" with a horizontal a serif added at the base of the lower zone (e.g., in "parte" in line 3 and - even more prominently - in "perche" in line 4). If this occurred in a sample of modern handwriting, it would be an individual deviation from a taught model (and some graphologists would give it a specific significance - a love for physical action); however, the serifed "p" was specifically taught and encouraged as a preferred formation in many (not all) handwriting-instruction models of Baldi's time and somewhat earlier models., particularly those published in Italy. Therefore, whatever this formation might mean as an individual deviation in a modern American handwriting sample, it cannot be confidently assigned any such significance in a 350- or 400-year-old Italian sample such as this (since it can be assumed the writer was probably taught that formation at some stage).
- the very diminished top curve of the "B" in this writer's script - seen in "Baldo" (line 1) and in "Basta" (line 5), which is not only barely visible but also is not even as tall as the stem of the letter - again, this cannot with confidence be given any graphological meaning it might have had in the hand a writer trained in today's common styles, because many handwriting-models in use where and when Baldi was growing up (and for some generations earlier) indeed taught and indeed required a very diminished top-section for B.
- the "d", which in this sample is usually formed like a reversed 6 (graphologically known as "Greek d"), but sometimes is seen with a straight, stick-figure back, like a modern "print-script" d - the reversed-6 "Greek d" was in fact the more common and "fashionable" formation of d in Italy (and most of Europe) throughout Baldi's adult life; it was considered more elegant than the straight-backed d, and perhaps this has led to the graphological reputation of the "Greek d" as a sign that the writer has cultural or intellectual leanings. However, in Baldi's childhood (and for a century or two before that), the d more commonly taught, had been the straight-backed d, with the reversed-6 "Greek d" generally not taught and often considered incorrect or unelegant. (the "fashion" in d-forms has changed more than once across Europe - from the "Greek d" to the straight-backed kind, and back again - starting in the Early Middle Ages. Whole centuries of reversed-6 d's will be followed by whole centuries of straight-backed d's, and vice versa). Baldi's frequent "Greek d's" can therefore be considered - as we would consider them in a modern handwriting - a sign that the writer is interested in things considered "cultured" or "elegant".
- the thickened, club-like tops of some ascenders(e.g., the "d" in "Baldo" - line 1 - the "b" in "oblasione " -line 5 - and the "h" and "l" in "che la" - line 6) - and the arched tops of other ascenders (e.g., the "h" and "l"'s in a word that appears to be "horticelli" - line 3) - at least some modern graphologists would consider these to suggest a neurological disturbance or mental obsession: perhaps an embarrassing conclusion, given that Baldi is often considered the founder of graphology! However, standard handwriting-models of Baldi's time and slightly before often presented clubbed and arched ascenders (not common today), along with straight ascenders (still common), as options: the same textbook would present two or more "correct" ways to write such letters, with the writer left free to choose which one to use on a particular occurrence of a letter or not, at will. Often, a "mix-and-match" variation of ascenders was encouraged, and seen as lending variety and visual interest to the writing. Therefore, someone like Baldi who makes use of varied ascenders can be considered as someone who makes a versatile use of the handwriting-possibilities (and perhaps other possibilities?) which he found available to him, not necessarily as someone suffering a brain-injury or a psychological problem
- This should underline for all graphologists the importance of knowing how someone was taught to write before attempting to analyze the writing.
Although the information available from this sample is limited (because of poor reproduction), still some interesting graphological information can be gleaned from it.
According to his "pen portrait", Baldi would appear to have been an intelligent, clear-headed quick-thinking person who probably appeared somewhat absent-minded to others (but who may simply have been distracted, time upon time, by some novel and interesting idea). He was probably interested in "culture", generally speaking, and seems to have had a versatile and lively personality which did not ignore the physical or emotional sides of life as so many highly intelligent people tend to do.
My thanks go to Stan Crouch and Bob Backman (Handwriting Analysis Research Library, Greenfield, Massachusetts) with supplying me for the material for this analysis. The Camillo Baldi handwriting sample first appeared in La Graphologie No. 175, page 41 in July of 1984.
What graphologist wouldn't be eager for the chance to analyze the handwriting of the writer of the first surviving European text on the subject - Camillo Baldi, M. D.?.
Even though the sample of Baldi's handwriting supplied me (reproduced here at original size and also enlarged 164%) is a copy of a copy, the opportunity was too tempting for me to pass up.
However, the nature of the sample demanded some careful work - as certain considerations apply with this sample that would not typically apply with more modern samples of handwriting.
Guest Analyst: Kate Gladstone