The papers of Vera Law

Scope and Content

The material in this collection was donated by the Rev. Stan Knight and Vera Law's niece Mrs Audrey Freeman. The collection contains drafts of work by VL, handwritten notes on calligraphy, specimens of handwriting, and material relating to Alfred Fairbank including a large collection of correspondence between AF and VL.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in Northampton on 5 October 1899, Vera Law was educated there 1908-14, at Wantage in Berkshire 1914-17, and at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, 1917-22 under Graily Hewitt and H. Laurence Christie.

In 1921 Vera Law was one of the fourteen original founder members of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators (SSI), exhibiting nine pieces of work in the Society's first exhibition, held in July and August 1922. She was Secretary of the Society 1937-1943.

A testimonial from the Central School, dated 1923, says that 'she has quite an exceptional range as an artist, being a Writer, illuminator, gilder and gesso worker, woodcarver and bookbinder. She has a good knowledge of water-colour painting and is a good draughtsman, including life and design'.

She had an extensive career combining teaching, exhibiting and commissions. She worked as a specialist in gilding and gesso at Joseph Armitage's workshops, 1922, and was Handicraft Tutor at H.M. Borstal Institution, Aylesbury, 1924; Teacher of Lettering and Handicrafts, Hayes Court, Kent, 1924-28; Teacher of Handicrafts, London County Council Women's Evening Institute, 1937; Assistant Teacher of Writing and Illuminating, Central School Arts and Crafts 1927-30; and Teacher of Lettering and Bookbinding at Hammersmith School of Building and Arts and Crafts, 1928-29, 1939 and 1941-47.

She was awarded the Gold Medal at the Exhibition of International Art, Paris, 1925, and worked as in assistant in conservation of Old Masters to S. Kennedy North, 1928-38. She worked with other scribes on several major commissions including the production of the Metropolitan Police Roll of Honour with Dorothy Hutton and the study of humanistic scripts with Alfred Fairbank, with whom she published several articles on Ludovico Vincentino degli Arrighi.

Law published little: a note on the use of platinum, included in Irene Base's essay on 'Gilding' in 'The Calligrapher's Handbook' (London, Faber, 1956); articles on Arrighi in 'The Book Collector', autumn 1978, and in 'The Scribe' and 'Alphabet', 1985; and contributions to the Society for Italic Handwriting Journal.

She died on 19 July 1985.


The papers were arranged by Justin Howes on behalf of the Crafts Study Centre in the late 1980s and were given the reference code '3/'. They were renumbered with the new reference code 'LAW' by Greta Bertram in 2021, with minor adjustments to the arrangement of sub-parts.

  • LAW/1 Material relating to Graily Hewitt
  • LAW/2 Letters to VL about teaching appointments; cuttings about conservation work of S. Kennedy North
  • LAW/3 Handwritten notes by VL on various topics, and copy of an article on gilding
  • LAW/4 Material relating to the Society of Scribes and Illuminators (SSI) and VL's involvement
  • LAW/5 VL's notebook detailing commissions and associated loose notes
  • LAW/6 Material relating to memorial work by VL and others
  • LAW/7 Letters to VL requesting handwriting samples
  • LAW/8 Preliminary designs by VL on tracing paper
  • LAW/9 Material relating to VL's experiments with platinum gilding
  • LAW/10 Drafts of Patents of Nobility intended for Barron Morris of Kenwood (probably by Dorothy Hutton)
  • LAW/11 Specimens of gilding
  • LAW/12 Placard reading 'Have your Album of Wedding Photographs beautifully engrossed by our expert!'
  • LAW/13 Black and white photograph of 'A Tribute to Donald W G Balfour'
  • LAW/14 Rough in red and black ink of pedigree made by VL for Mrs Balfour
  • LAW/15 Pencil layout for carved lettering for a mirrored frame, 'The eye sees not itself by reflection'
  • LAW/16 Material relating to the Tribute to the Right Honourable David Lloyd-George by VL
  • LAW/17 Pencil layout for the VC citation for Lieutenant William Basil Watson, 1947
  • LAW/18 Draft by VL for the broadside panel 'Ask and ye shall receive'
  • LAW/19 Drafts by VL of signs welcoming overseas visitors in the coronation year, 1953
  • LAW/20 Draft by VL in black ink of a card 'This establishment will be closed for Annual Holidays', 1954
  • LAW/21 VL's experiments with gilding
  • LAW/22 Trial by BL in blank ink on vellum for Latin hymn beginning 'Regina Caeli'
  • LAW/23 Draft by VL for sign, 'Children's Room'
  • LAW/24 Tracings by VL in pencil
  • LAW/25 Rough work by VL for sign, 'Church Funds'
  • LAW/26 Unfinished placard by VL in black ink, 'Gifts for Medical Missions From the Women's Fellowship and other members of Folkestone Parish Church'
  • LAW/27 Black and white studio photograph of Vera Law, mounted, c.1925
  • LAW/28 Drafts of letters from VL in response to requests for specimens of her handwriting
  • LAW/29 Draft specimens of VL's handwriting
  • LAW/30 Drafts and scraps by Alfred Fairbank
  • LAW/31 A selection of Alfred Fairbank's 'Trials for a Publication' in folder
  • LAW/32 Correspondence between Alfred Fairbank and VL
  • LAW/33 Envelopes addressed by Alfred Fairbank to VL
  • LAW/34 Typed writings by Alfred Fairbank
  • LAW/35 Relating to works of Alfred Fairbank

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist is available on request.

Archivist's Note

This entry was compiled by Greta Bertram, Curator, March 2021, based on the catalogue produced by Justin Howes in the late 1980s.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.

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