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Philip Mills Arnold Papers


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description


Sign Languages


Accounting and Geometry

Paleography - Writing


Language - Philosophy - Philology


Specimens of Early Typography




Personal Papers

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Philip Mills Arnold Papers, 1477-1981 | MS Manuscripts

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Collection Overview

Title: Philip Mills Arnold Papers, 1477-1981Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1477-1981

ID: MS/MS/ms006

Primary Creator: Arnold, Philip Mills. American businessman and collector.

Extent: 39.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 06/05/1979

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Philip Mills Arnold Semeiology Collection, perhaps the most diverse and comprehensive of all the Washington University Libraries Special Collections, brings together a broad range of materials dealing with or exemplifying the nature and characteristics of communication. Placing particular emphasis on early printed materials that appeared at early stages of the development of interest in topics relevant to semeiology, the Arnold Collection had especially strong holdings in the fields of cryptography, artificial memory, decipherment of unknown languages, early development sin stenography, Braille, deaf and mute languages, and various forms of nonverbal communication.

Complementing the more than 2,000 volume in the Arnold book collection that forms the largest component of the Semiology Collection is a small, yet select, group of manuscripts and printed ephemera, including materials relating to cryptography, sign languages, telegraphy, accounting, paleography, mnemonics, philosophy, stenography, and other topics.

The sign languages section contains numerous single printed sheets from the nineteenth century depicting different systems for deaf-mute communication in many languages, probably published as teaching aids. The three items on telegraphy emphasize its use for the military, focusing on secretly communicating sensitive offers for maneuvers. Items included in the Accounting and Paleography sections demonstrate the variety of early forms of alternative numerological systems and alternative scripts, both of which indicate that communication is based on an ever-changing use of various signs.

An important work on mnemonics, Raymond Lull’s Ars demonstrativa et ars brevis, highlights this curious and frequently mystical system of logic, metaphysics, and the intricate workings of the communicating mind. Manuscripts depicting many of the thousands of separate languages of the world are also included in the collection, mostly relying on biblical texts to illustrate the complex nature of human communication. One other example of alternative means of communicating is a shorthand version of the Psalms.

Finally, included as an illustration of the early evaluation of printing, are 52 specimens of early typography, dating from 1477 to 1674. Taken as a whole, the manuscript collection reveals the interdisciplinary nature of semeiology and reflects the eclectic range of Arnold’s important collection.

Collection Historical Note

Philip Mills Arnold, executive, researcher, and scholar, retired in 1976 as vice president for research and developement of Phillips Petroleum Company after nearly forty years with the company. Most of his career was spent in scientific research. He played a ,ajor role in the company's entry into the chemical industry, in which it rapidly became a major producer of synthetic rubber, plastics, fibers, and fertilizers.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1970, Arnold also has been active in the National Research Council. He served in the Executive Committee of its Division of Chemistry and Chemical Technology and on its committee on Scholarly Communication with the Peoples' Republic of China.

While his professional life has been devoted to science and technology, his avocaton has been study in the humanities. The holder of 22 patents, Arnold reads widely in several languages. A student of semeiology - the study of the use of signs and symbols - Arnold has explored the history of communication, from efforts to relate through universal languages and alphabets, to systems to conceal, specifically, codes and ciphers. He founded in 1966 and has supported over the years the Philip Mills Arnold Semeiology Collection. In addition, Arnold built other distinguished collections, including early books on comets and early editions of the medieval philosopher Boethius. Upon Arnold's death in 1995, the libraries received the bequest, as well as his entire estate.

Arnold earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering in 1932 and a master of science degree in chemical engineering in 1941 from Washington University. In 1968, he was recognixed at Founders Day with an Alumni Citation from the Washington University Board of Governors.

Administrative Information

Repository: MS Manuscripts

Access Restrictions: Open

Use Restrictions:

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or spec@wumail.wustl.edu. (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)

Acquisition Source: Gift of Philip Mills Arnold

Acquisition Method:

Accession number 1488. Gift of Philip Mills Arnold, June 5, 1979

Accession number 1492. Gift of Philip Mills Arnold, June 6, 1979

Accession number 1730. Gift of Philip Mills Arnold, July 1, 1987

Accession number 22953. Gift of Philip Mills Arnold, February 12, 1990

Preferred Citation: Name of the Collection, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Cryptography, 1531-1834],
[Series 2: Sign Languages, 1679-1836],
[Series 3: Telegraphy, 1803-1812],
[Series 4: Accounting and Geometry, 1775-1816],
[Series 5: Paleography - Writing, 1664-1835],
[Series 6: Mnemonics, 1516],
[Series 7: Language - Philosophy - Philology, 1838-1855],
[Series 8: Stenography, Undated],
[Series 9: Specimens of Early Typography, 1477-1674],
[Series 10: Miscellany, 1633-1816],
[Series 11: Microfilm, 1981],
[Series 12: Realia],
[Series 13: Personal Papers],

Series 10: Miscellany, 1633-1816Add to your cart.
5 items
Box 7Add to your cart.
Folder 26: Untitled, Undated.Add to your cart.
Ephemera, hand-colored etching depicting Jesus on the cross, undated. Printed below picture “Consummatum Est,” It is finished. P. M. Arnold notes “I found this in an old book. I do not know if it is worth keeping as a piece of ephemera, but it looks to me as if it is quite old.”
Folder 27: M. S. Morris, Miscellaneous extracts 1816: autograph manuscript signed, December 6, 1816Add to your cart.

1 volume (3 unnumbered leaves, 6 unnumbered pages, 1 blank leaf, 209 pages, 1 blank page) 18 x 12 cm. Full tan leather; spine has four sets of double raised bands, stamped in gold and lettered in red in the second and fourth compartments; covers stamped in gold, black, and blind with two sets of gilt double rules; gilt patterned turn-ins; black and white headbands; aquamarine endpapers; all edges gilt.

Commonplace book of M.S. Morris, with poems by various authors, copied in clean script most likely from contemporary English literary journals. Authors are not named, but include Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Campbell, John Wolcot, Robert Burns, Anna Seward, Thomas Gray, Ralph Griffiths, and many others.

Transferred to Rare Books PR1222 M67 1816

Folder 28: Notes on the life and writings of the Jesuit Father Francesco Terzi Lana, patrician of Brescia: an extract from the series "Italian writers" by Count Giammaria Mazzuchelli, patrician of Brescia: with a letter from G. C(hiaramonti), citizen of Brescia, concerning the same Di Lana, the first inventor of a "flying boat," with other celebrated philosophers and mathematicians of Brescia: typescript, circa 1900-1930?Add to your cart.

Creator unknown. Typed in black and red ink on double leaves folded at the fore-edge; sewn into a pamphlet with white cord; glassine paper over covers. Summary of: Notizie intorno alla vita ed agli scritti del P. Francesco Terzi Lana Gesuita / del Sig. Ab. Giovanni Rodella con una lettera di Giambattista Chiaramonti intorno allo stesso P. Lana primo inventore della barca volante, ed agli altri più celebri filosofi e matematici Bresciani ; estratte dalla serie degli scrittori d'Italia del Conte Giammaria Mazzuchelli, patrizio Bresciano. In the journal: Nuova raccolta d'opuscoli scientifici e filologici (Venezia : Simone Occhi, 1784), tomo 40, pages 1-132. In glassine-covered paper wrappers; printed on double leaves. Lightly annotated (by P.M. Arnold?). 1 volume (1 blank page, 6 unnumbered pages, 1 blank page) : paper ; 22 x 18 cm. Writing style strongly suggests that the summary was translated from the Italian.

Summary of an article on Francesco Terzi Lana that appeared in the Venetian scientific journal Nuova raccolta d'opuscoli scientifici e filologici. The author describes the three sections of the article, comprising a letter from Brescian lawyer Giambattista Chiaramonti, notes by Abbot Giambattista Rodella, and passages from Lana's book Prodromo, dealing with the possibility of air travel in a "flying boat." The summary's author describes various 17th- and 18th-century theories on the invention of flying machines, "in view of the enthusiasm that still persists for balloons, especially since the venturesome crossing of the Channel," which puts the time of his writing around the end of the 18th century.

Francesco Terzi Lana (or Lana Terzi) (1631-February 22, 1687) was an Italian Jesuit priest, mathematician, naturalist and aeronautics pioneer. He developed an early conceptual plan for a vacuum airship. Lana also developed an early writing system for the blind that was eventually revised by Louis Braille.

Transferred to Rare Books TL516 N68 1900z

Folder 29: [Laurus Spolotanus, Joan Baptista], Untitled, 1633.Add to your cart.
(22 pages) Bound Auto ms. Latin text contains legal decrees concerning various rights. Names have been inscribed later in text in gilt lettering. Published in Perugia.
Folder 30: Three holograph leave originally laid in Institvtiones antiqvariae…by Everardo Audrich, Undated.Add to your cart.
Notes on the book. Two leaves laid in at page 129 and one leave laid in at page 161. From the library of Joseph Pelli, bearing his bookplate.
Folder 31: Typed letter signed, Author James Beattie to J. Godfrey Nicholls, concerning the origins of the Linear B language. Mentions the work of Michael Ventris, Florence Melian Stawell, and Alice Kober, 1957: February 5.Add to your cart.
Originally laid in A Clue to the Cretan Scripts by Florence Melian.
Folder 32: Get a Shopping Card! "The Bee Hive" L.S. Plaut & Co., Newark, NJ, [ca. 1900]Add to your cart.
Advertisment for an in-house, single payment shopping plan, perhaps a predecessor of the credit card. Also includes letter from Arnold explaining the origins of the item above. Accession 1488.
Folder 33: PhotocopiesAdd to your cart.
(20 items) Located in oversize.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Cryptography, 1531-1834],
[Series 2: Sign Languages, 1679-1836],
[Series 3: Telegraphy, 1803-1812],
[Series 4: Accounting and Geometry, 1775-1816],
[Series 5: Paleography - Writing, 1664-1835],
[Series 6: Mnemonics, 1516],
[Series 7: Language - Philosophy - Philology, 1838-1855],
[Series 8: Stenography, Undated],
[Series 9: Specimens of Early Typography, 1477-1674],
[Series 10: Miscellany, 1633-1816],
[Series 11: Microfilm, 1981],
[Series 12: Realia],
[Series 13: Personal Papers],

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