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The provenance of any original document is always of the upmost importance, but the scribe of the Mi’kmaq handwritten book is unknown.

Who or how many used the prayer and service book is also unknown.

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The Arab numerals seem written by the same pen as the signature and the rest of the handwritten material, that is to say the thin lined symbols.

“21 X 24" is made up of Arab numerals with an X used as a modern mathematical symbol.

A cursory and initial examination showed modern letters in a Western alphabet expressing words in a Romance language, most likely French.

The marvelous thin lined symbols with flourishes, however, were a mystery to me.

Recently, I asked for an interlibrary loan to have a look at Cornell University's "Micmac Manuscript," a 19th century Catholic prayer and service book, handwritten in the Mi'kmaq-Récollet "hieroglyphic" script. Speck (1881-1950), who initially acquired the Micmac Manuscript for the University of Pennsylvania (see below), wrote about the Mi’kmaq in his ethnology classic, Later, while studying the several photocopies I had made, I noticed that a set of clippings which had been used at some point as bookmarks in the Mi'kmaq-Récollet book could be reassembled.

I had originally offered to pay a fee for a couple of photocopies or higher priced scans, but was politely told that the written-in blank lined notebook was too fragile and that I should request the microfilm of , which includes the "Micmac Ms." The microfilm took a week to arrive and I spent a couple of enjoyable hours in the BPL's Microtext Department reading and admiring the collection. After a quick cut and paste, I produced a photocopy collage.

I'd rashly assumed that this was some previously unknown interim form of the Mi'kmaq-Récollet script which had emerged between the 1670s, when the Récollet missionary, Fr.

Chrestien Le Clercq, invented the script (claimed to have been based on an existing, though unattested, aboriginal pictographic system), and when printing plates with formalized representations of the script began to be used in the 1860s ( “Originale” could arguably be Italian or French, as both are well established and common enough, though the unique French endings of the large print words unquestionably defines the language of the printed portion of the original document.

What follows is not meant to supplant these sources, as this article merely attempts to trace a somewhat twisted line from the earliest shorthand to that used on the Mi’kmaq Ms.

bookmarks, and not a full and thorough treatment of the fascinating dead-ends and asides common enough in most industries and disciplines.

Our modern Roman-based alphabet was more or less finalized during the Carolingian reign of Charlemagne when the Romano-Celtic scholar and librarian, Alchuine (var. The banning of shorthand by Justinian (527-565) and Frederick II (1194-1250) is regarded by some as paranoia, but was probably motivated by wishes to monopolize and control the usage of the various shorthand systems available. Bright was also granted a limited license of fifteen years propriety for rights to exclusively use and profit from his new system.

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