Egyptian Alphabet, circa Early July–circa November 1835–B
Egyptian Alphabet, [, Geauga Co., OH, ca. early July–ca. Nov. 1835]; English in the handwriting of ; hieratic and unknown characters in unidentified handwriting (likely Cowdery); five pages; Kirtland Egyptian Papers, CHL. Includes archival markings.Four leaves, the first measuring 12½ × 7⅞ inches (32 × 20 cm), the second measuring 12½ × 15½ inches (32 × 39 cm), the third measuring 12½ × 7¾ inches (32 × 20 cm), and the fourth measuring 9⅛–9¼ × 7¾ inches (23 × 20 cm), with the bottom edge unevenly torn. Because the words on the first leaf are inscribed in straight lines, the paper was likely ruled, but any such lines are now faded. The second, third, and fourth leaves are each ruled with about forty lines that are badly faded. The inscriptions on the second leaf, which is a large sheet, span the entire width of the sheet. Each leaf was inscribed on one side, while the other side was left blank. It appears that a title was written along the top of the recto of the first leaf. Remnants of the inscription that survive at the top of the page indicate the title was likely “Egyptian Alphabet.” Most of a “g”, a “y”, and most of a “p” are still intact on the brittle edge of the paper. Four hand-drawn, vertical lines form five columns of varying width on the recto of the first leaf. may have added the extra vertical line to create a blank margin on the left-hand side of the page. The second leaf has one vertical line forming two columns, and the third and fourth leaves have no column lines, though the content roughly follows the format of the previous leaves. Damage to the top of the first leaf makes it impossible to know if Cowdery provided headings to the columns, though the column with the explanations or definitions of the characters does not have a heading. A horizontal line forms a rule on the first page, separating the first and second parts of the first degree from one another. On subsequent leaves, parts are set off only with a heading. The second, third, and fourth leaves are paginated on the upper left corner in Cowdery’s handwriting. The first leaf may also have been paginated, but both of its top corners are missing.Major staining is present on the first and second leaves from what appears to be an oil-based substance. The third and fourth leaves also bear staining from an unknown substance. There is accidental ink transfer on the verso of the fourth leaf from a document bearing Arabic writing that was stored with this document for some time. By the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, most of the leaves of the Egyptian Alphabet documents were docketed in blue ink with letters of the alphabet from A through I and T through X. Egyptian Alphabet–B bears the letters A, X, and I on the top of the rectos; the fourth leaf bears no such letter. This labeling indicates that the leaves were not stored in their original order at the time they were labeled. The handwriting in which this labeling is inscribed is similar to that of early-twentieth-century apostle James E. Talmage. Each leaf has an “o” written at the top of the page that does not appear to be related to the other letters. This document was presumably stored with the Egyptian material mentioned in periodic inventories of the Historian’s Office, which suggests continuous institutional custody.The images of the second leaf presented here are composite images created by digitally combining images of the left and right side of each page.
The first page of Egyptian Alphabet–B contains five columns, including one ostensibly intended for letters of the English alphabet; quickly abandoned that column, as did in Egyptian Alphabet–C. Cowdery also drew a vertical rule on the left side of the first page, likely intended as a margin. The changes in the way Cowdery used the columns and the varying size of the leaves suggest that he adjusted his approach to the project shortly after starting. Cowdery’s second leaf, however, bears little evidence of updating and may have been completed in one sitting. Some of Cowdery’s explanations on the second leaf are considerably expanded as compared to Egyptian Alphabet–A and –C, suggesting that these are the final and most refined iterations of these explanations as found in the Egyptian Alphabet documents. It is unknown when the bottom portion of the fourth leaf was torn away.