Engrossing was a form of artistic writing popular during the Golden Age of Ornamental Penmanship, which flourished from the 1870s to about 1920.
Engrossers created decorative lettering used on resolutions, certificates, testimonials, memorials, and manifestos. The example above is by Patrick W. Costello (1866-1935). Costello’s engrossing work was often executed in limited tones of Payne’s gray or umber.
Engrossers such as Costello, Dennis, and Sickels often used decorative block letters that influenced cartoonists and poster designers of the 1960s.
Originals were as large as 22 x 28 inches, often illustrated with flags, portraits, flowers, or other pictorial devices. They reflect a culture that placed a premium on congratulatory or memorializing messages, usually presented publicly to formally recognize an individual achievement.
More about the lettering of this era at the IAMPETH website
An Elegant Hand: The Golden Age of American Penmanship and Calligraphy
The Zanerian Manual of Alphabets and Engrossing (Thanks, William!)
Previously on GurneyJourney: Offhand Flourishing