J.M. ELFORD'S MARINE TELEGRAPH; OR, UNIVERSAL SIGNAL BOOK...BEING ALSO THE KEY TO THE PATENT TELEGRAPH, INVENTED BY THE AUTHOR, CAPABLE OF MAKING 9330 PROGRESSIVE CHANGES, BY USING THE FIGURES FROM 1 TO 6 ONLY.

Charleston: Printed by Archibald E. Miller, 1823. 81,[i.e. 80]pp., plus 8pp. addenda (with further addenda slip pasted on to final page). Handcolored frontis. Original marbled paper boards, leather spine, reinforced with old linen. Corners lightly worn, inner hinges cracked but sewing tight. Contemporary ownership inscription on fly leaf and rear pastedown. Minor scattered soiling, but generally quite clean internally. Very good. Item #WRCAM49785

A rare instructional work on a patented system of ship communication, using just six telegraphic flags. Elford taught navigation and nautical astronomy in Charleston. The frontispiece depicts "Marine, Telegraphic flags." This is quite an early American signal book. Though there were other early systems in America, not all the inventors published books. Elford's marine visual system depended on six uniquely patterned flags, and on a "conversation flag." These are illustrated in this book, along with a glossary of words and sentences, and their numerical equivalents, which would be signaled by means of the flags. A sheet of testimonials has been pasted on the inside of the front board, at the bottom of which is a list of agents. Lemuel Moody of Portland is the first name listed (it would be interesting to know if he used Elford's system to signal from his observatory). The front fly leaf is inscribed: "Ship Marengo of New Orleans, B. Wood, Master." On the following blank is a handcolored illustration with manuscript showing the four flags that would signal Marengo's identifying number. The four-page supplement which follows the main text (i.e. pp.77-80) is an unusual variation, possibly printed in 1824 and shorter than the supplement noted by the American Antiquarian Society. It is followed by an eight-page MARINE TELEGRAPH REGISTER listing ships and their identifying numbers, also likely printed slightly later. SHAW & SHOEMAKER 12436. RINK 3984.

Price: $4,000.00

An Unusual South Carolina Imprint