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Sunday, September 9, 2012

old books

I found this in the bins today.  It's from 1907.

I learned Gregg shorthand in high school (got up to about 70 wpm).   I was very interested to learn there was another, competing system, colloquially called "Pitman" after its inventor.  Eventually Gregg won out but I found these two books - one on the system and a dictionary of words written out - in a bookstore in the 1980's, 

It had been around a long time, as you see above.  This particular volume was printed in 1900.

It's amazing to me how economical they were, with tiny print on very thin paper.  This book is about 5"x7"

The dictionary and phrase book was printed in 1902.  It's larger but no less economically printed on thin paper with sardine-can use of space.  You might notice this system of shorthand uses line thickness variation as well as shape.  I believe that may have been its Achilles' Heel, in that it is a fraction slower to vary pressure when writing.


  1. Old tasty! I never learned shorthand, but would benefit from it. I enjoy seeing competitive natural selection at work. It's amazing how many ideas and brands have migrated to the dustbin of history.

  2. Old books are so cool.
    It is sad that so many libraries junk old books and the subject matter gets lost. The reason I like Project Gutenberg and GoogleBooks. At least someone is working to preserve historic books.

    I never learned shorthand. Then when I got to college I wish I had.

  3. Actually that is not so in England - Pitman shorthand was the norm. I never could do it...

  4. That's interesting. I only knew from a line in Bob Hope's "My Favorite Brunette" (1947) that it was still around after the war, not how long it stayed around in England. I've meant to try it but I'm torn between that and practicing the Gregg I had learned already. I thought it would be a good way of doing NaNo, write in shorthand and transcribe on typewriters.


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