J. M. Elfords Marine Telegraph; or, Universal Signal Book.
Elford, James M.
Archibald E. Miller, ( 1823), Charleston, SC
Handcolored plate and handcolored ill. on front pastedown. (5), x-xii, (2), vii, (1) xiii-xvi, (1), 18-75, (3), 81, 8 pp.
So composed as to enable vessels at sea, provided with only two sets of the six telegraphic flags, described in the plate, to make 7569 signals … and to act as telegraphs to each other … 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. This is quite an early American signal book. Truxtun and Porter had previously developed systems for naval use, but as far as I know this is the earliest American merchant system. Winterthur has a manuscript copy of Elfords Signal system dated 1818. It was followed in 1832 by Parkers signal book and then, in 1847, by Rogers system. Elfords 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. I have offered this title several times in the past. Those copies ended at page 75, followed by a three page Supplement. In this copy the Supplement” is three pages long. On the verso of the third page 19 vessels are listed in a manuscript table showing flag signals, type of vessel, name and home port. Rare. Worldcat shows only 10 libraries holding copies, none of which conform to this issue in terms of pagination. Bound in 1/4 calf over marbled boards. Back board detached but present. Covers worn. Scattered light staining in text. Housed in a custom-made clamshell box.