Mother’s Last Words, Lucas type

Mrs Sewell, Mother’s Last Words, In T. M. Lucas’s Embossed Characters (1868). Book. Lucas type. Dimensions: 286 x 227 x 20mm (open)

RNIB Collection Acc No: L1/5

Mrs Sewell, Mother’s Last Words, In T. M. Lucas’s Embossed Characters (1868).

Credit: RNIB

The publication of Mary (mother of Anna) Sewell’s sentimental Mother’s Last Words suggests a continued emphasis on eliciting appropriate moral and emotional responses in blind and visually-impaired readers as presses branched out into fiction. Embossed books also turned on a more physiological concept of the ‘feeling reader’.  Distinguishing between a ‘feeling’ and a ‘seeing’ reader, Lucas recognised in 1837 that the finger tracks more slowly than the eye glances and stresses the importance of an alphabet based on contracted form, likening it to travelling on a smooth and fast railway. An enhanced understanding of and attention to tactile perception was needed to develop suitable finger-reading practices.

A relief image of a detail of this work is available in the exhibition.


T.M. Lucas, Instructions for Teaching the Blind to Read with the Britannic or Universal Alphabet, and Embossing their Lessons &c (Bristol: Philip Rose and Son, 1837)

Object description:

Mrs Sewell, Mother’s Last Words, In T. M. Lucas’s Embossed Characters (1868).

Credit: RNIB

This book is open on the frontispiece. On the left hand page is pasted an alphabet code with some embossed characters, and printed text. The right hand page contains embossed text. [Transcription of the left hand page]: ‘Key to T. M. Lucas’s System of Reading for the Blind, as modified by the committee in 1858, under the revision of the Rev. J. W. Gowring, B. A. Characters used for the Alphabet and Double Letters’. [transcription interrupted]. Below this line are three lines of Roman alphabet characters with corresponding symbols from Lucas’s alphabet embossed below. The first two lines are characters of the alphabet A-N and O-Z, the bottom line has double letters LL, SS, FF, TH, SH, PH, CH, NG, WH, GH, &C, again with corresponding symbols from Lucas’s alphabet embossed below. [Transcription resumed]. General Rules. 1. Vowels sounded in the Consonants are generally omitted, as b for be, nd for end, drk for dark. 2. Other Vowels, but not at the beginning of a word, are also often omitted in words of frequent use, if no mistake can thereby be made. The following are the chief instances of such Contractions:– Abt about. Abv above. Agn again. Agnst against. Bes because. Bth both. Bn been. Sn seen. Btwn between. Bk book. Lk look. Tk took. Chf chief. Chld child. Cm come. Cn can. Dd deed. Dth death. Dp deep. Kp keep. Shp sheep. Slp sleep. Swp sweep. Wp weep. Gd good. Grt great. Hd had. Hst hast. Hth hath. Hm him. Hr her. Hs his. Hw how. Nw now. Jdg judge. Lt let. Lw law. Sw saw. Mnth month. Wk week. Yr year. Mr more. Nr nor. Nt not. Pc peace. Ppl people. Prev perceive. Wht what. Whm whom. Whs whose. Wrk work. Ws was. TABLE I. Words expressed by a single character. A and. B but. C Christ. D down. E ever. F for. G God. H have. J Jesus. K king. L Lord. M mother. N into. O over. P upon. Q queen. R are. S us. T the. U you. V verily. W with. X except. Y yet. Z zion, sion. FF from. TH thou. SH shall, shalt. PH Pharisee. WH which. GH ghost. TABLE II. Prefixes expressed by a single character, but not generally used when followed immediately by a vowel. C com, con. D dis. F for. M mis. N under. P pro. R re. S sup, sub. T trans. W with. X extra. TABLE III. Terminations expressed by a single character in words of more than one syllable. B ble. D ed. F ful. H hood. I ing. L less. M ment. N ness. R er. S soever. T tive. W ward. SH tion. TH eth. Sl self, selves. TABLE IV. Words contracted by the omission both of vowels and consonants. Bf before. Bl blind. Br brother. Brn brethren. Cd could. Fr friend. Gl glory. Gr grace. Hn heaven. Imy Immediately. Kd kingdom. Nsg notwithstanding. Nvs nevertheless. Pl pleasure. Pr prayer. Shd should. Sp spirit. St saint. Str strength. Thf therefore. Tr trouble. Wd would. Whf wherefore. S is added to some of the above Contractions to form the plural, as frs for friends; tabs for tables, &c., and some of these Contractions are also occasionally used in compound words, as elati for everlasting, otake for overtake, ur for your. 4. When, according to the preceding rules, two Contractions would immediately follow each other, only one generally is used. And when any of these rules are departed from, it is to prevent mistakes being made, as died is not changed into did. 5. The characters standing for the Double Letters are used to express  both the Cardinal and Ordinal numbers, with the exception of first, which might often be mistaken for one. LL one [1]. SS two [2] second. FF thre, [3] third. TH four, ]4] fourth. SH five, [5] fifth. PH six, [6] sixth. CH seven, [7] seventh. NG eight, [8] eight. WH nine, [9] ninth. GH for the cipher, [0]. The Numbers above 9, are expressed by putting these Characters for their respective figures, as LL GH for 10 or tenth; LL NG for 18 or eighteenth; TH CH LL for 471 etc. The word Lord being in the Old Testament sometimes printed all in capital letters (LORD) which marks out that the original word, in the Hebrew, is Jehovah, this distinction is kept up by spelling the word Lord, in such cases, at full length, except when followed by the word God, as it is then almost always Jehovah. Proper names are spelt at full length. A semicolon or colon is expressed by a single dot at the bottom of the line, and a period by two dots. A greater space is also left whenever there is a fresh paragraph. The blind value these contractions as well as the short-hand writer, because by their aid they can read as fast with their fingers as any good reader (when he reads aloud) who is privileged with the blessing of sight. NB In the books previously published a greater number of Contractions have been used, as will be found by the Keys attached to these books. October, 1868. [end transcription]. The right hand page contains frontispiece details embossed in Lucas type [translation not given]. [End description]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *