The Description and Explanation of a "Universal Character;" or, Manner of Writing, that may be intelligible to the Inhabitants of every Country, although ignorant of each others Language; and which is to be learnt with facility, [...].

[anon.] [Bath, Somerset; provincial printing; pasigraphy; linguistics; universal language]
Publication details: 
Bath: Printed by J. Hollway, Engraver and Copper-Plate Printer, Union Street.' [1830? 1833? 1835?]
SKU: 8087

4to: 48 + [3] pp of letterpress, with additional leaf after title of 'Errata of Letter Press' and 'Errata in Plates'. Twenty numbered plates (the first two transposed), including one fold-out, and a final seventeen full-page unnumbered plates ('Examples'). Apparently complete. In original brown quarter binding, with cloth spine and paper boards. Ownership inscription of 'Lady Rolle' (1796-1885, born Louisa Barbara Trefusis) on front board. Text clear and complete. On aged and lightly-spotted paper, with wear to extremities and wraps, and cloth spine torn and worn. One of many attempts at producing a universal writing system in which each symbol corresponds to a concept rather than a word or sound from an individual language. The author begins by explaining how the 'acquistion of a universal character has long been desired', but 'the undertaking' has been 'thought almost as fanciful as the search after the Philospher's Stone, or the Elixir Vita; and, consequently, persons in every respect more adequate to the task than the writer of these pages, have been deterred from making the attempt'. The work contains a long explanation of the signs, and specimens from an 'alphabetical dictionary'. The final examples, looking like hieroglyphics, include fables, psalms and the Lord's Prayer. Uncommon: COPAC lists copies at the British Library, Oxford, Cambridge and the National Library of Scotland, with the item variously dated to 1830, 1833 and 1835.