This is possibly the oddest and certainly the smallest of the Library’s extensive collection of works in shorthand. Indeed, this minature work which would be almost impossible to read even with a practised eye, is the smallest book in the entire Library collection, measuring a mere 50mm from top to toe.
Chetham’s holds one of the finest collections in Britain in the field of shorthand, comprised of over 600 books, manuals and manuscripts. It is based mainly on the two collections respectively of the poet John Byrom (1692-1763) which was donated by his descendants in 1870, and of John Harland of the Manchester Guardian, acquired on his death in 1868.
In the space of a couple of generations, shorthand has gone from an essential secretarial skill to a forgotten art, as new technologies offer quicker methods of transcribing speech. Chetham’s collection includes many early manuals of different systems, from the sixteenth-century work of Timothy Bright to that of Isaac Pitman in the nineteenth century. Many of these are rare and in some cases possibly unique. The collection also contains large numbers of books, many of them very rare, on cryptography, spelling reform, and universal languages.