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From the days before the photocopier ...


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I just saw this listed on eBay:


A complete, and nicely leather bound, handwritten copy of Henry Cohen's Roman Imperial Coins !

The amount of work lovingly put into this is staggering !

Apparently (form the description) the person who created this is not known.


Edited by Heliodromus
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7 minutes ago, Qcumbor said:

I would be exhausted after just one page of writing. Amazing !


I'm so unused to writing anything by hand that anyone but me has to read, that I believe my hand would cramp up these days just trying to write a one-page letter in a legible fashion! I can't imagine doing this even in the 19th century, as if this person were copying a manuscript in a monastery 1,000 years earlier.

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Should we remember that penmanship was once the mark of a cultured person and, before the printing press, the only way to produce books.  What we know about ancient history and literature is due to these hand written works copied by people who did nothing all day but copy books and pray.  

However, writing was once the new-fangled invention.  Epic works like the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer were memorized in their entirety and recited by travelling performers.  Today, there are some religious texts memorized word for word by children.  The rest of us read or listen to sound recordings.  

The problem I see is whether the format of today's digital recordings of text or sound will be still readable in a thousand years or will everything saved in that format from 2024 be lost while we still have texts on paper etc. from a thousand years earlier.  Today we have services that transcribe 'old' media into today's preferred formats but will such services continue uninterrupted for a thousand years?  Compared to the time since Homer, only a thousand years is a drop in a bucket.  Compared to what was written in antiquity but never copied, our digital record of the present is huge.  What will remain of it to form the knowledge of 2024 in millennia to come? 


I once collected old letters written in the 19th century.  Some were written in beautiful script which I am able to read with a little effort here and there.  Most of you could read them.  Can your grandchildren?  The original photo below from the 1850's could well outlast any digital record of children born today and photographed on the phones of their parents unless someone translates them into the formats that survive to the next centuries.  


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