Egyptian Counting, circa Early July–circa November 1835
“Egyptian Counting,” [, Geauga Co., OH, ca. early July–ca. Nov. 1835]; English in the handwriting of ; unknown characters in unidentified handwriting (likely Phelps); two pages; Kirtland Egyptian Papers, CHL. Includes archival notations.Two leaves, the first measuring 12⅜ × 7⅞ inches (31 × 20 cm) and the second measuring 12⅜ × 7¾ inches (31 × 20 cm). Each leaf is machine ruled with about forty lines that are now faded, though the spacing of the lines on the two leaves is not identical. wrote on the recto of each leaf while leaving the verso blank. Phelps added the title “Egyptian Counting” to the first leaf. Two hand-drawn, vertical lines, presumably inscribed by Phelps, form three columns on the recto side of each leaf. The first and second columns, designed for the characters and their names, are relatively small, while the third column, designed for an explanation in English, is much larger. Phelps added headings to each column on the first leaf: “Characters”, “names”, and “English Explanation”. The headings and the title appear to have been written at the same time. Phelps paginated both leaves on the upper right corner of the recto side.Following the production of this document, the two leaves were attached together with as many as three pins. Pinholes along the right side of the upper, middle, and lower rectos of the leaves align with one another. The pinholes in the Egyptian Counting document align with pinholes found on Egyptian Alphabet–C. The presence of these pinholes indicates that Egyptian Alphabet–C and this document were stored together and likely originally associated with one another. Green oxidation on the verso of the second leaf of the Egyptian Counting document likely indicates that it was the final page of that grouping. Some staining is present on the left side of each recto, and wear along the bottom of the pages may hint that these two leaves were not perfectly aligned with the larger collection of leaves, resulting in damage to the bottom edges. 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. The Egyptian Counting document was incorporated into this labeling system—the letters G and H were inscribed on the upper right corner of each recto. The handwriting in which this labeling is inscribed is similar to that of early-twentieth-century apostle James E. Talmage. This document was presumably stored with the Egyptian material mentioned in periodic inventories of the Historian’s Office, which suggests continuous institutional custody.
The Egyptian Counting document is built on a base-ten number system. It is unknown where the characters originated, but they appear to be adapted versions of Arabic numerals rather than Egyptian characters. Given that JS and his associates included in the Egyptian Alphabet documents some non-Egyptian characters, these characters may have been similarly borrowed from other sources. inscribed unique names for numbers one through ten and then used those names as the basis for the numbers in the teens through the seventies. The document includes numbers from one through seventy-nine. The lines of text run through the bottom of the second page. It is possible that Phelps wrote more than the two surviving pages.It is uncertain when created this document. The similarity of the style of pagination on this document and on Egyptian Alphabet–C suggests that these two documents were created near the same time. It appears, however, that this document and Egyptian Alphabet–C were not pinned to the other Egyptian Alphabet documents. The neatness of this document may indicate that it was created from earlier drafts or notes. The Egyptian Counting document must have been created before the Grammar and Alphabet volume, however, because Phelps used material from the Egyptian Counting document in some of the definitions in that volume.