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    C. S. Rafinesque Autograph Manuscript Signed. Three pages of a bifolium, 6.75" x 8", Philadelphia, April 1835. A manuscript, in French, concerning the Indians of South America, including a listing of more than two dozen Indian symbols with their French translations. A partial English translation is offered here:
    Selection
    Of some graphic signs and emblems used by the people of N. America and understood by nearly all respectively in their languages...by C. S. Rafinesque Prof. of Natural & Historical Sciences August 1835.

    Written for Mr. Manual Nadera to aid him in the research of the graphic systems of the Mexicans

    N.B. There is only a small number of individuals who know how to read these signs...or gestures imitating these forms with the hands among the people speaking in different languages....

    30 Elementary Graphic Signs
    I already know 250 of them but many are more or less compounded...


    The manuscript ends with a listing of the Indian symbols and their French translations for such words as female; male; fire, flame, burning; air, wind; water, aquatic; devil, bad spirit; the good god; and moon.

    Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (1783-1840) was born near Constantinople and lived for a while with his family in Italy, where he was educated by private tutors. Having developed an interest in natural history at an early age, he began collecting a herbarium when he was eleven years old. In 1802, Rafinesque traveled to Philadelphia, where he became acquainted with several American scientists, including Benjamin Rush and William Bartram. Three year later he returned to Italy, where he studied the ichthyology of Sicilian waters. Rafinesque returned to the United States in 1815, settling in New York where he worked as a private tutor. From 1815 to 1818, he studied the flora and fauna of the Hudson Valley, Lake George, and Long Island. In 1819, Rafinesque was appointed Professor of Botany, Natural History, and Modern Languages at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he remained until 1826. From 1826 until his death, he lived in Philadelphia and continued to make field trips and study the flora and fauna of the region. Although Rafinesque's chief interests were botany and ichthyology, he contributed significantly to nineteenth century scientific thought. He was one of the first American naturalists to depart from the Linnaean system of classification and adopt the emerging schemes of natural plant classification. Rafinesque was an early advocate of evolutionary theory and his ideas were acknowledged by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species.

    Condition: Flattened fold, with toning that is darker at margins and stray foxing. A few notations in pencil. Accompanied by a handwritten translation.



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    11th Thursday
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