Mercury, or the secret and swift messenger: showing, how a man may with privacy and speed communicate his thoughts to a friend at any distance... London I. Norton 1641
8vo. [xviii], 180 (i.e., 170) Title and text within ruled borders. Contemporary morocco; bookseller's description with annotations tipped in. Other than some minor water stains on a few leaves, a very nice copy. $6,500.00
First edition, quite rare, of Wilkin's valuable treatise, considered to be the basis for his later tracts on universal language and popular education. It contains a wealth of examples on cryptography, and also includes discussions on cryptology - - secret communication by speaking, and semeology - - communications by signs and gestures. It is primarily a discussion on means of communication and broaches the possibility of universal symbols to be used as a primary method of communication for all men.
Wilkins (1614-1672) was the Bishop of Chester and a man of rare gifts who was instrumental in the official formation of the Royal Society in England. An excellent mathematician and investigator, he advanced the study of astronomy at Oxford and London.
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