Item #11692 Alphabet Espagnol & François ou Maniere de parler avec les doits à l’Espagnole & à la Françoise. Sign Language.
Alphabet Espagnol & François ou Maniere de parler avec les doits à l’Espagnole & à la Françoise.
Alphabet Espagnol & François ou Maniere de parler avec les doits à l’Espagnole & à la Françoise.
Alphabet Espagnol & François ou Maniere de parler avec les doits à l’Espagnole & à la Françoise.
BODY LANGUAGE

Alphabet Espagnol & François ou Maniere de parler avec les doits à l’Espagnole & à la Françoise.

[France], c. 1720.

Two parts in one volume. Small 4to (170 x 120 mm.). [i blank], [ii], [24]; [1], [22], [5 blank] leaves. Manuscript in a single hand on rectos only.

Contemporary gilt brown morocco by the Boyet workshop, fillet-and-dot border around a rich frame of a large fan and volute roll and repetitions of partly pointillé sprays embellished with small stars and fleurs-de-lys, gilt spine with pointillé and foliage decoration, gilt board edges, gilt turn-ins (roulette E), pink silk pastedowns and marbled free endpapers, all edges gilt over marbling, red silk marker. In a dark blue morocco pull-off box (Riviere & Son).

FORTY-SIX FULL-PAGE GRAY WASH DRAWINGS OF FINGERSPELLING AND BODY MOVEMENT SIGNS IN TWO SERIES REPRESENTING SPANISH AND FRENCH MANUAL ALPHABETS. Twenty-four illustrations show a single hand, twelve both hands, and ten letters in the French alphabet are demonstrated by men in contemporary dress (in half-, three-quarter- or full-figure). All drawings and the corresponding alphabet letters are enclosed in decorative gray wash cartouches, as are the main title, the half-title and the seventeen-line preface. Nine drawings are captioned in manuscript.
           A HITHERTO UNRECORDED FRENCH MANUAL ALPHABET and an early witness outside Spain of Juan de Pablo Bonet’s Abecedario demonstrativo, the first sign language specifically devised for deaf education.
           THESE ILLUSTRATIONS MAY HAVE ORIGINALLY BEEN CREATED FOR CLASSROOM USE, WHETHER AS INDIVIDUAL ALPHABET CARDS OR AS A WALL-MOUNTED BROADSIDE (see below).
           The two series — Spanish then French — comprise twenty-two drawings each, preceded by a short preface and drawings of the signs indicating word separation in both languages. The Spanish signs are all to be executed with a single hand. Here, the scribe omitted the lines indicating movement in Bonet’s signs for I and Y and added a new hand shape for Z.
           THIS MANUSCRIPT PRECEDES THE FORMAL INTRODUCTION OF BONET’S METHOD TO FRENCH DEAF EDUCATION in the 1740s. Charles-Michel de l’Épée didn’t open the world’s first public school for the deaf until twenty years later, in 1760.
           More complex, colorful and idiosyncratic, the French alphabet includes both one- and two-hand fingerspellings and involves various movements and body parts. The five vowels and most consonants draw on contemporary English manual cryptography or assign letters to body parts (B as in bouche…). Four signs mirror hand shapes and movements of the old Italian manual alphabet, in use through the 1980s. SIX SIGNS APPEAR TO BE ORIGINAL TO THIS ALPHABET, POSSIBLY IMPORTED FROM A SYSTEM OF SECRET COMMUNICATION RATHER THAN DEAF EDUCATION. They mimic casual everyday gestures (hand behind back: Q; hand sliding into pocket: H) or include auditory elements (stomping foot: P; snapping fingers: T — with the specific instruction of “making a noise”, tr.).
           The French gentlemen’s wigs and attire as well as the paper’s watermark (close to Gaudriault 730 and to RISM Mbs 76), date this compilation to the first two decades of the 18th century. The make-up of the volume is one I have never encountered. It is a collection of fifty individual leaves which were first gathered into twelve groups of four and one group of two with the addition of a single blank leaf at the end. Each group was individually oversewn. The newly forged “gatherings” were then sewn in the present order.
           In very good condition; gilt red morocco bookplate of the discriminating collector Mortimer L. Schiff (1877-1931).
¶Schiff, Catalogue of a Selected Portion of the Famous Library (6.XII.1938) 1316; Conihout & Ract-Madoux, Reliures françaises du XVIIe siècle 110; see Gascón Ricao, Storch de Gracia Asensio & Oviedo’s “Juan de Pablo Bonet y el alfabeto manual español” in Homenaje a Juan de Pablo Bonet: Pionero de la educación oral de los sordos edd. Storch de Gracia Asensio & Gascón Ricao 544-98 and Presneau’s Signes et institution des sourds XVIIIe-XIXe siècle 67-94.

Item #11692

Price: $37,500.00

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