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WILKINS, John. An Essay Towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language. 
London: Printed for SA. Gellibrand and for John Martin..., 1668. First edition (folio, it was also issued in large paper). Folio, recently rebound with calf spine, raised bands, gilt compartments, leather spine label, marble boards, (20), 454, (2), 158pp. Two plates (one folding), and two tables. Some minor foxing, particularly to the initial and terminal leaves, otherwise fine, with the bookplates of Stillman Drake and Delapre Abbey.

John Wilkins (1714-1772), Bishop of Chester and Fellow of the Royal Society. Wilkins was a founder and first Secretary of the Royal Society. He was the author of a number of works including A Discourse Concerning a New Planet in which he used arguments similar to those of Galileo, and Mercury Or, The Secret and Swift Messenger. Philosophical Language, Wilkins's most notable work, was the first comprehensive proposal of a universal language written in English. "Calls for a universal language had increased as a result of the flourishing of vernacular literature and an increasing dissatisfaction with Latin, partly with regard to the difficulty of learning it, but also with regard to its ambiguities and complexities... The vocabulary of this new language was to be built up by systematic modifications of the basic generic terms that were deemed to cover all the major categories of existence. A knowledge of the system would enable the reader, or listener, not just to recognize the signification of a word but also to understand how the referent fitted into the entire scheme of things. This is what made Wilkins's artificial language 'philosophical', not just universal in the sense that a unanimously agreed upon lingua franca would be." ODNB.
Wing W2196, Lowndes 2922.

Price: $7,000.00

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