When Undergrads Could Understand & Translate Demotic
When It Could Seem Sensible to Them to Produce a WHOLE BOOK by Lithography
. . . *&* withCHROMOLITHOGRAPHY Plentifully Present . . .
University of Pennsylvania. Philomathean Society(Henry Morton, Charles R. Hale, Samuel Huntington Jones). Report of the committee appointed by the Philomathean Society of the University of Pennsylvania to translate the inscription on the Rosetta Stone. [Philadelphia: The Philomathean Society], copyright 1859. Small 4to (23 cm; 9"). 152 pp.,  ff., 6 plates. [also bound in] Catalogue of members of the Philomathean Society ... Philadelphia: Ringwalt & Co, 1859. Small 4to. 24 pp.; and tipped-in lithographed copyright notice. $1100.00
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Probably the most famousAmerican all-lithographed book of the 19th century, withchromolithographic illustrations and embellishments that lavishly enhance the whole. In his already classic study of 19th-century American color plate books, Stamped with a National Character, William Reese writes of this work: “The first full translation of the Rosetta Stone, undertaken by three members of the University of Pennsylvania . . . [student body], provided the basis for a notable display of chromolithographic book illustration by the Philadelphia lithographer, Louis Rosenthal. The entire book was lithographed, presumably to better accommodate the hieroglyphs, but Rosenthal went far beyond necessity. He created hundreds of crude but exuberant chromolithographs intermingled with the text, showing scenes from Egyptian life or elaborate borders in quasi-Egyptian motifs. It is one of the few American books printed entirely by lithography” (p. 99).
The genesis of the work was the arrival at the Philomatheans' building of a donated cast of the Rosetta Stone. Three Philomatheans — Henry Morton, Charles R. Hale, and Samuel Huntington Jones — worked out a plan to translate the stone and produce the book here offered. Hale undertook to transcribe and translated the Greek and Demotic texts, Jones produced the historical introduction, and Morton supplied the hieroglyphic inscriptions, drawings, and other illustrations. The first edition of the finished work appeared just before Christmas, 1858, in an edition of 400 copies and sold out immediately.
In late January 1859, the Society wished to print a second edition of 600 copies; but because no lithographic establishment could afford not to reuse lithographic stones, all stones save those for the last 20 or so pages of their work had been ground down. Thus in the second edition, i.e., the edition offered here, the artistic embellishments are “largely a new work,” in the words of Randolph G. Adams (“The Rosetta Stone,” in Bibliographical Essays, A Tribute to Wilberforce Eames, p. 234).
In some very few copies of this second edition, p. 6 bears the signatures of the three Philomatheans who produced the book. This is, unfortunately, not one of those few, hence the lower price. But this copy does have the oft-missing copyright notice at the rear.
Reese, Stamped with a National Character, 91; Bennett, American Color Plate Books, p. 93. On the story of the production of the book and for a chart showing which pages of the second edition are restrikes from the first, see: Randolph G. Adams, “The Rosetta Stone,” in Bibliographical Essays, A Tribute to Wilberforce Eames, pp. 227–40. Publisher's dark green cloth, covers stamped in blind with a gilt center device of a sphynx; spine also stamped in blind but with two gilt-stamped vertical lozenges and the title in gilt. About six small areas of loss of cloth on spine or board, some probably silverfish damage. Bookseller's description of a different copy pasted to rear pastedown. A good++ copy well worth having. (35384)