The Inventor of the Numeral Type for China By the Use of Which Illiterate Chinese Both Blind and Sighted Can Very Quickly Be Taught to Read and Write Fluently. MISS C. F. GORDON-CUMMING.

The Inventor of the Numeral Type for China By the Use of Which Illiterate Chinese Both Blind and Sighted Can Very Quickly Be Taught to Read and Write Fluently.

London. Downey & Co., 1899. New Edition. Stock ID #163026

Black and white photographic and line illustrations, xii +189 + [2]pp, index. Two small booklets "The Chinese Problem" and "The Destruction of Schools for the Blind by Chinese in Peking in June 1900" tipped onto front free endpaper. Staples in the booklet "The Chinese Problem" deteriorated causing leaves to become loose though all are present. A little damage to paper colophon likely where a mission annual report had been tipped-in. Occasional pencilling, upper joint cracked, endpapers a little marked, original decorative cloth a little soiled.

Inscribed by the author "The Rev. H.A. Tudor with my kind regards/from Constance F Eka Gordon-Cumming/April 22nd/1902. Constance Gordon-Cumming was a keen 19th century female traveller often drawing criticism for her propensity to travel alone and unaided. Her aim while on her travels was to create a painting or drawing everyday and over the course of her travels she built a large collection of landscapes which were well regarded. Her travels took her to a great many places including Australia, the United States, the Pacific islands, India, Japan and China. This book stems from her experiences in China in the 1879 she met the Reverend William Hill Murray, a Scottish missionary, whose aim was to teach blind and illiterate Chinese to read. Inspired by Braille he created a system of embossed dots to represent the 408 sounds, along with variations to denote tone, that he believed fully represented spoken Mandarin Chinese. In addition he realised that by generating the equivalent visible shapes based on the dot patterns the system could also be used to teach sighted illiterate Chinese to read their language. The ingenious system reduced the 5000 - 10000 characters, a mammoth task for even the most intelligent to learn, to effectively 400 symbols representing the sounds. This massive reduction was only possible because of the very large number of homonyms in Mandarin.

The two interesting booklets tipped-in to this copy include a plea for funds on behalf of the Rev. Murray who together with his wife and children "lost everything they possess in the world" during the Boxer Rebellion. It goes on to say that "After years of heroic toil he managed to build up the schools, which have been ruined by the insensate hatred of the Chinese. He earnestly craves assistance in restoring his work". (When referring to this item please quote stockid 163026).

Price: $375.00 AU

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