If you've ever attended grade school in the US, you've seen them. Maybe hanging along the wall above the chalkboard, or maybe printed on handouts. They're the Zaner-Bloser letters, a standardized cursive alphabet that has been the bane of schoolchildren for almost a century.

In 1888, Charles Paxton Zaner turned his unwholesome obsession with handwriting into the Zanerian College of Penmanship, an institution which covered everything from everyday penning to engraving- to rendering the fancy loopy lettering on diplomas and building permits. A few years later, Zaner would sell part of the school to Elmer Ward Bloser, and in 1895 the Zaner College of Penmanship became the Zaner-Bloser Company.

In 1904 the Zaner-Bloser Company published The Zaner Method of Arm Movement, a tome which covered every aspect of putting pen to paper, and would become the basis for the elementary school programs still taught in many classrooms today.

Zaner-Bloser is still around, although cursive seems to be on the way out. The company was purchased by Highlights for Children in 1972, and the product line has expanded to include lesson plans and teaching aids for any school subject involving the written word.

And in case you were wondering, their motto is "The Language Arts Company".

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