Edwin L. “E. L.” Brown

Edwin L. “E. L.” Brown

Camden, Knox County, Maine, USA
Death 8 Jan 1958 (aged 88)
Rockland, Knox County, Maine, USA
Burial Rockland, Knox County, Maine, USA
Plot Section B, Ave C, Lot 69
Memorial ID 162936828 View Source

“Speak my name and I will live forever” – African proverb

EDWIN L. BROWN - Master Penman, Designer, Engrosser, Illustrator and Painter

Biographical Summary:

Edwin Leslie Brown was born on March 25, 1869 in Camden, Maine, the oldest of five children of John Brown and Martha A. Paul. He had three brothers and one sister: Zadoc F. (1870-1965); George M. (b. 1873); Winnie E. (b.1875); and Ralph J. (b.1877).

Brown's family roots, on the Brown side of the family, trace to the early 1700s in Ipswich, Massachusetts. His great-great-grandparents later resettled to Camden, Maine.

E. L. Brown married Nettie E. Pendleton in Rockland, ME, in 1894. She died in 1913 at the age of 44. Nettie Brown is buried in Seaview Cemetery in Rockland. In 1920, Brown married Agnes Lillian (Shaw) Pendleton in Portsmouth, NH. Throughout their marriage, the Browns lived in Rockland at 55 Summer St. in a white, three-story Victorian set back from the street, with a carriage house at the end of a long driveway lined with over-hanging weeping willow trees.

For 50 years, Brown worked as a designer and engrosser with the Howard & Brown firm, based at 414 Main St. in Rockland. His friend and business associate, Henry A. Howard, was Brown’s former instructor at what was then called, Howard & Hill Commercial College. Brown's double majors included the Business and Academic programs of study. He joined the school's faculty in 1890 and taught penmanship, bookkeeping and business practice.

After learning engrossing from noted Camden penman, A. R. Dunton, he went to New York City in 1893 and became a staff engrosser with Ames & Rollinson, one of the largest and most reputable studios in the country. There he had the opportunity to work with Daniel T. Ames, a major figure in American Engrossing and penmanship publication who founded and edited the "Penman's Art Journal."

Preferring Rockland to the big city, he returned to Maine and joined Howard as co-owner of the newly-named Rockland Commercial College, where he remained until 1922. He then shifted his career focus to engrossing, illustration and illumination.

The Howard and Brown Studio was located on the third floor of the "Berry Block," a red brick building on Main St. in the heart of downtown Rockland. The two artists were best known for the many thousands of high school and college diplomas they lettered and illustrated for schools in the U. S. and in many countries throughout the world.

Later, Brown broadened his art repertoire to include painting, in oil and watercolor. He studied under two masters: Henry B. Snell (1858-1943) and Anson K. Cross (1862-1944).

His work with Snell, an English-born impressionist painter, included trips to Portugal and Northern Italy.

Cross was a landscape painter, educator and author known for the development of systems for teaching drawing and painting. He and Brown taught many summer art classes together at the Cross School of Art, Boothbay Harbor, in Southern Maine.

Brown and Howard also traveled to Europe together.

Their long-term partnership ended when Henry A. Howard died on December 15, 1952 at the age of 89. Brown retired soon after. In an obituary published following Howard's death, The Educator described Howard and Brown as “very skillful penmen and artists,” and their partnership as “one of the beautiful, outstanding penmanship organizations bound together by high ideals and an unselfish desire to serve the best interests of their beloved profession.”

In addition to serving as mayor of Rockland for two years (1923 & 24), Edwin Brown was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club, regularly attended local baseball games, danced the fox trot, and loved to travel. He and his wife vacationed in Florida in the winter, and in Europe in the summer. One of their favorite destinations was Cherbourg, in northwestern France. On those trips, and others throughout his native Maine, he found beautiful natural scenes to draw or paint. Many of them appeared on covers of The Educator.

According to local newspaper accounts, Brown maintained his vitality well into his later years. He continued to paint and would walk to and from town every day to meet socially with a group of friends. When he was 83, Ed and Agnes went on vacation to Florida. He drove all the way from Maine to St. Petersburg, and back.

Brown lost his wife in 1957. A period of declining health led to his own death the following year, on January 8, 1958, in Rockland. He was 88. His funeral was held in the Congregational Church. Both are buried in Achorn Cemetery in Rockland, with other members of the Shaw and Brown families.


EDWIN L. BROWN (1869-1958)

This profile was written by Michael R. Sull, master penman, expert on penmanship, author of books on cursive handwriting and Spencerian script and ornamental penmanship, and published in his book, "Spencerian Script and Ornamental Penmanship, Volume I" (1989).

Born in Camden, Maine on March 25, 1869, Edwin L Brown showed great interest in handwriting as a youth. In the unfilled pages of his grandfather's old account books, on any scrap of paper and on board fences he made crude drawings and flourishes. His first real inspiration and help came from G.A. Gaskell's Compendium of Penmanship, which he purchased with his first dollar. He entered Rockland Commercial College, Rockland, Maine, in 1887. After graduating a year later, he returned to the college to become a teacher. Under the training of H. A. Howard, he made rapid advancement in all styles of plain and ornamental penmanship.

In 1888, he met A. R. Dunton, the famous author of the Duntonian System of Handwriting. Mr. Dunton was so well pleased with Brown's work and ability that he gave him instruction in more advanced penwork. Eventually, Dunton employed him to assist in engrossing the diplomas of the Boston Public Schools. During later years, he worked for a time at the Ames & Rollinson Engrossing Studio in New York City, and traveled abroad in 1900 to study European art and design at the Paris Exposition.

In his early days as an engrosser, he made large exhibition pieces, embracing all styles of plain and ornamental penmanship. Over the years, few artists in his profession produced the volume of work he did during his lifetime. The studio partnership E. L. Brown shared with his former instructor, H. A. Howard, began advertising in the Business Educator penmanship magazine in 1902. This successful business relationship was an enduring one, and ended at the death of Mr. Howard in November, 1952 at the age of 89. On January 8, 1958, Edwin L. Brown passed away in Rockland, Maine. During their years together, Howard & Brown built up a thriving engrossing and designing business that covered the entire United States and Canada.

Source: The Educator, December 1953, Zaner-Bloser Co., Columbus, OH.


Obituary, The Courier Gazette, Rockland, Maine, Thursday, January 9, 1958, page 1


Former Mayor Edwin L. Brown, 88, died Wednesday morning, bringing to a close a distinguished career as an instructor in business practices, penmanship and art.

He was head of the Rockland municipal government in 1923 and 1924.

Mr. Brown was for many years a partner with the late Henry Howard in the operation of the Rockland Commercial College. Many of the area’s present business figures received their commercial training in the school.

He was the surviving partner of the firm of Howard & Brown which was for decades internationally known for the high school and college diplomas it turned out. Diplomas made by the firm were presented to graduates as far away as the Philippines, Japan and in Caribbean and South American countries. Mr. Brown retired from the business, which he sold to a Boston firm, a few years ago.

Noted as a penman, he conducted a column, which was a lesson in penmanship, in The Business Educator, a national trade magazine for 51 years. In December of 1953, the magazine devoted an entire issue to Mr. Brown and his work as a penman.

Highly skilled as an artist in multiple media, he taught several years in the Cross School of Art in Boothbay Harbor summers and in Florida during the winter months.

He traveled through Europe to study art and many of his works are of scenes he encountered there.

A charter member of the Rockville Rotary Club, he was also a past president of the organization. Fraternal affiliations included the Masonic Bodies and the Odd Fellows.

Mr. Brown was born in Camden on March 25, 1869, the son of John and Martha Paul Brown.

Two brothers survive him, Zadoc F. Brown of Bath and Ralph Brown of Simonton’s Corner. Also, five nephews and a niece.

Funeral services will be conducted Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. from the Burpee Funeral Home with Rev. Charles Monteith of the Congregational Church officiating. Interment will be in the Achorn Cemetery.


In December 1953, The Educator dedicated the entire issue to E. L. Brown and samples of his art that had been published previously in the journal. Editor Earl A. Lupfer wrote these comments extolling the high quality and volume of Brown's work, his generous contributions to The Educator, and his significant influence on the penmanship profession.

THE NAME – E. L. BROWN by E. A. Lupfer

A beautiful name – beautiful to most penmen and lovers of pen work for the masterful work which is associated with it. When the name is mentioned, one immediately has a mental picture of an artistic type of pen work which has delighted the penmanship profession for considerably over half a century. In fact, when the writer first became interested in pen work, E. L. Brown was then one of the pillars. His work has been a constant inspiration. As we look at it, we marvel and wonder how Mr. Brown can produce that constant flow of ever changing ideas. The interesting thing about Mr. Brown’s work is that nine out of ten penmen would be able to identify any piece of work Mr. Brown has prepared. Each one has that inimitable individuality which is so characteristic of Brown.

No one has put more of his heart and soul into his work or been more faithful to his profession; no one has turned out more high class work; nor has anyone been more punctual in turning out this high class work than Mr. Brown. If any issue of The Educator during the past fifty-one years did not contain a specimen of Mr. Brown’s work, the chances are it was not the fault of Mr. Brown.


Edwin L Brown Wills $10K to Knox County Hospital in Rockland, Bangor News, Jan 30, 1958, pg. 20

Former Mayor Leaves $10,000 To Hospital

ROCKLAND Jan 29— The will of the late Edwin L Brown, former mayor of Rockland who died January 8, will leave $10,000 to Knox County General Hospital.

The will stipulates that the money be used to establish and maintain a room in the hospital to be known as the "Edwin L. and Agnes S. Brown Memorial Room.’’

Other local organizations mentioned in the will are the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Home for Aged Women and the Rockland Congregational Church.

The museum will receive $2,000, which is to be invested with the earnings from the investments to be used for the purchase of art books. The fund is to be known as the Edwin L. Brown book fund. The museum is also to receive the art supplies and books of Brown’s, who was a talented artist and former operator of the Rockland School of Commerce. Numerous works of art which belonged to the Rockland resident are also to be given to the museum.

Both the Congregational Church and the Home for Aged Women are to receive $500.

A trust fund is to be set up at the First National Bank of Rockland with $10,000 in it for the care of Brown's brother, Ralph Brown of Simonton's Corner, for the rest of his life.

Numerous other bequests of lesser amounts are to go to other relatives and personal friends of the former Rockland mayor.


Achorn Cemetery Information (Section B, Avenue C, Lot 69):

Edwin L. Brown is buried with his second wife, Agnes Shaw Brown (1877-1957, age 80); Anna Maria Shaw (1883-1884, age 1); Eliaas W. Shaw (1842-1872, age 30); Francis M. Shaw (1843-1918, age 75) and Jacob Shaw (1813-1874, age 61); and Emma G. Brown (daughter of Daniel G. and Ann Brown, no dates). Emma's small gravestone is the only one on the site.


This memorial to Edwin L. Brown was researched and compiled by Thomas W. Costello, great-grandson of master penman, engrosser and illustrator, P. W. Costello (1866-1935), a professional colleague and friend of Mr. Brown.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
May the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. (Numbers 6:22-27)

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