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Technologies of Writing in the Age of Print
Coded Writing and Duplication Techniques

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Coded Writing and Duplication Techniques

Girolamo Ruscelli. Secreti. Part 1. English. London, 1558 (Detail)

Printing was indeed an incitement to write in early modern England. Printed manuals provided instructions for increasingly complex ciphers, as well as reproducing medieval recipes for invisible ink and other techniques for disguising handwriting.  In order to eliminate the need for laborious re-copying of documents, an Englishman advertised a “double-writing” machine for the use of lawyers, scriveners, merchants, messengers, secretaries, clerks, and scholars.

  Additional Information

Miles Blomefield, one of the owners of this book (left), has annotated many of the recipes with flowers, pointing hands, his initials, and other notes. In the margin of the recipe "To make white letters in a blacke feilde," he draws a pointing hand next to the passage "The lyke maye you make with the yelke of an Egge, tempered in water." Underneath the hand is proof that he successfully made the recipe: a black square with white lettering.

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