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Books on Telegraphy from the Philip Mills Arnold Semeiology Collection


JOHANN ANDREAS BENIGNUS BERGSTRASSER (1732-1812)
Ueber Signal-, Order und Zielschreiberei in die Ferne.
Frankfurt am Main, Andreäischen Buchhandlung, 1795.

In this work, Bergsträsser develops a synthematographic, or "whole communication" system, employing a telegraphic apparatus which uses both visual and auditory signals. The author is particularly anxious to demonstrate the difference between his own scheme for signaling, and that of the Frenchman Claude Chappe. Bergsträsser argues that Chappe merely modified an earlier optical system propsed by the English experimental philosopher Robert Hooke (1635-1703), while his own scheme is not subject to the limitations of sight. Bergsträsser sees his synthematograph as primarily suited to military uses. He is also the author of Ueber sein am ein und zwanzigsten Decembr. 1784 (Hanau, 1785-86), also on signing. (Bibliothèque Nationale XI:378; NUC 48:518 (NB 0344909)


CLAUDE CHAPPE (1763-1805)
Beschreibung und Abbildung des Telegraphen.
Augsburg, C. F. Bürglen, 1801.

Claude Chappe, a French engineer, developed perhaps the most widely used optical telegraph in France. The French Legislative Assembly adopted the device in 1792. The device itslef consisted of a transverse bar mounted on a post. At the end of this bar were fastened with pivots two small arms, making it possible to form symbols of letters and numbers by various positions of the bars. In view of earlier proposals by Gaspar Schott (1608-1666) and Robert Hooke, and the military signaling described by the Greek writer Polybius (205-125 B.C.), the originality of the device was soon attacked by Johann Bergsträsser and others. Chappe's invention was defended, however, by his elder brother, Ignace Urbain Jean Chappe, in his Histoire de la Télégraphie (Paris, 1824). (NUC 103:605 (NC 0307005))


WILLIAM GODDARD (fl. 1800)
Observations, Strictures & Remarks on Telegraphic Correspondence.
Chatham [Eng.] 1803. Manuscript.

The British Admiralty had set up an optical telegraphic system modeled on that of Chappe in 1796, and based entirely on the use of the alphabet. In this unpublished work, Goddard sets forth his attempts to secure a change in the system used by the Admiralty, by recording his own discussions of the subject with William Marsden (1754-1836), secretary of the Admiralty and vice-president of the Royal Society. Goddard proposes both the use of the alphabet and the use of signals standing for entire sentences, previously agreed upon. The advantage of using signals for entire sentences would be to speed up greatly the process of communication, escpecially under threat of fog or other meteorological conditions.

Bound in red morocco with marbled endpapers, the holograph consists of 32 unnumbered leaves. The versos of 29 are blank, while three others contain illustrations of telegraphic apparati. On the back free endpaper these is mounted a volvelle. The holograph is signed: W. Goddard, Chatham, the 24th November 1803. The inside front cover bears the bookplate of William-Henry, Duke of Clarence (1765-1837), later King William IV of Great Britain. Below and above it are mounted the book label and bookplate of his illegitimate son, George Augustus Frederick Fitz-Clarence, 1st Earl of Munster (1794-1842).


JOHN MACDONALD (1759-1831)
A Treatise Explanatiory of a New System of Naval, Military and Telegraphic Communication.
[London] T. Egerton, 1817.

Civil and military engineer in Sumatra from 1783 until 1796, and later lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Clan Alpine Fencible Infantry in Ireland, MacDonald published several military works, and was very much interested in the improvement of naval and military telegraphs. His first work on this subject, A Treatise on Telegraphic Communication, appeared in London in 1808. New System is an expanded version of that work. The first part is an explanatory treatise on types of telegraphs for both night and day, land and sea use. The second part of the work is a telegraphic dictionary, that is, numeric equivalents for words and phrases to be used in signaling. It is of note that he suggests that, were such numeric dictionaries made bi-lingual, they could be made the basis of communication between two parties who do not know each other's language. This copy bears the author's signed autograph presentation inscription to Sir John MacGregor Murray. (BMC 148:310; Galland p. 116)


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