Serving Clients Both Nationally & Internationally
At Ziller’s, we specialize in calligraphy supplies and services, diplomas and graduation merchandise, awards and promotional products. Our recognition awards include custom calligraphy resolutions, crystal & acrylic awards, trophies, plaques, memorials, testimonials, certificates, diplomas and more. Founded in 1894, we serve clients both nationally and internationally.
1890’s to 1930’s
Our studio’s founder, Frederick W. Tamblyn, first became interested in penmanship in 1881 at age 11. When Tamblyn was 16 years of age, he encountered an itinerant penman named Mr. Goss. His pen flourishes captivated the young Tamblyn and so his father arranged for him to attend calligraphy classes. The lessons sparked a lasting fire that helped to focus his ambition on becoming a professional penman. Tamblyn devoted most of his spare time practicing handwriting. His sources of inspiration and technique came from publications of the time such as Gaskell’s Guide, The Western Penman, and The Penman’s Art Journal.
In 1894, Tamblyn founded the Tamblyn School of Penmanship, which was a mail order correspondence course. His approach was to use actual pen written copies, typed instructions, and red ink criticisms. This format lasted him some 50 years. We estimate that approximately 40,000 students from all parts of the world have taken the course.
As his business grew, Tamblyn opened Tamblyn Studios in 1897 in Kansas City, where he specialized in penmanship, engrossing and designing. Over the next 30 years, Tamblyn personalized high school diplomas, prepared penmanship copy books for business colleges and art schools, inscribed memorial parchments eulogizing prominent men, including the late William Rockhill Nelson, Warren Harding, Woodrow Wilson, and several other presidents, and produced a plaque that was presented to Queen Marie of Romania when she visited Kansas City in 1926. He also testified in trials as a handwriting expert.
As a result of the business conditions in the 1930s, he began to devote greater attention to engrossing and diplomas. After the depression of the early thirties, the manufacturing of diplomas began. He offered lithographed diplomas that were personalized and all kinds of booklet diplomas with handsomely embossed covers of leather that were produced in his bindery.
1930’s to 1970’s
Our studio’s second founding father was Stephen Ziller. HIs love of penmanship began when he took his first high school penmanship class in Minnesota. His teacher encouraged him to attend the Zaner Bloser School of Engrossing in Columbus, Ohio, where he blossomed into a good designer and fine engrosser with considerable ability. He graduated from the Zanerian College in 1932. In 1933, at the age of 19, Ziller began working at the Tamblyn Studio.
Together Tamblyn and Ziller labored for nearly 5 years. A good share of their success was attributed to Ziller’s ability and industry. In 1936, Tamblyn wanted to partially retire, and Ziller wanted to take over the business. Both men came to an agreement that set Ziller on a course of running the operation for the next 55 years. Ziller envisioned the business could grow with emphasis on larger volume in school diplomas and organizational certificates for groups like the VFW, Boy Scouts, American Nurses Association and other groups. Within a year Stephen established the business under a new name, “Ziller of Kansas City”. Tamblyn took his full retirement in 1944 and later passed away in 1947 at the age of 71.
In the early years, Ziller published a complete set of handwriting textbooks for home use which ranged from business handwriting, ornamental writing, engrossing, card writing, bird flourishing, etc. He wrote the originals for these textbooks in the evenings working in his basement recreation room till late at night after a full day’s work in his office downtown.
The foundation of Ziller of Kansas City was built on two talents. First, the beautiful hand engrossed and illuminated manuscripts done in elaborate designs with genuine 23k gold. Second, by Ziller’s ability to make twice the size original drawings for the reproduction of lettering, script and designs. This skill allowed the finished job, reduced by one-half and lithographed, to be of outstanding quality, and in turn made possible a larger volume of business.
1970’s to 1980’s
Our studio’s “mother”, Vivian Mungall, began studying art and calligraphy in high school in Kansas City. Although she received her Master’s Degree in Library Science, it wasn’t until after college in 1976 that she was finally able to devote time to her true love, penmanship. After several years of calligraphy classes and assisting her teachers with personalizing certificates, she met Ziller in 1982. Vivian requested an apprenticeship to learn the business of engrossing art, and Ziller graciously accepted.
With Ziller’s guided instruction, Vivian studied engrossing tools, techniques and styles that are used to create large drawings for reproduction and one-of-a-kind original resolutions, memorials, testimonials and other certificates and awards.
In 1985, Vivian’s husband, Richard Mungall, joined the business and the Mungalls formed a partnership with Ziller. Richard brought continuity to the business with his experiences in the industrial manufacturing sector and Vivian carried on with the engrossing art that the business enjoyed.
1990’s to Now
In 1993, at age 79, Ziller took his retirement and Vivian and Richard took the lead as the studio’s third set of caretakers. As the business grew, new services were added for the convenience of the customers.
Custom framing and plaques became a standard offering along with extensive offerings of business gift and promotional merchandise. Development of the new Ziller Inks were made as well as the publication of long-time out of print book by F.W. Tamblyn.
In 2002, based upon her skills, Vivian was invited to become a Master Penman within the organization known as the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers & Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH). In 2009-2010, she was President of IAMPETH and planned the annual convention that took place in Orlando, Florida. This convention sparked a love for the warmer Florida climate and in September 2012, the business moved to Orlando, Florida where Vivian and Richard continue to grow the business.
In June 2013, Vivian and Richard’s son-in-law, Sebastien Saint-Ouen, joined the studio. Since joining the business, Sebastien has focused his time learning the business and modernizing the website and processes. He feels extremely fortunate to be part of such long family-owned business and hopes to keep it in the family for many years to come.