London, Printed by T. Wright, for T. Cadell and P. Elmsly, 1772. 8vo. Contemporary full mottled calf with gilt line-borders to boards, gilt lines and gilt title-label to spine. Spine and corners worn, and hinges weak. Somewhat worn. A bit of brownspotting. Book plate of James Barlow to inside of front board. Engraved title-vignette, large engraved weapon to dedication-leaf, woodcut vignettes, large engraved vignette at beginning of text, 3 engraved plates (two of which folded), large engraved end-vignette. Alphabetic character-illustrations in the text. (4), IX, (1), 126, (1 - Hymn to Isis) pp.
Scarce first edition of this interesting work on the origin of the alphabet, in which Davy proposes important and original theories that are still considered interesting and useful today.
Davy proposes the so-called "articulatory iconicity" as the approach to the explanation of the origin and development of the alphabet and tries to prove how a system of "visible speech" can be at the root of it all, along the lines of William Jones, who never made the practical suggestions of explanation that Davy did. The illustrations for Davy's account of the articulatory formation of the alphabetic characters are used in other works pertaining to the same subject and are considered a noteworthy attempt to explain this frequent subject for research and speculation.
The plates depict Greek, Hebrew, Samaritan, Syriac, Persian, Arabic, Coptic, Egyptian letters in comparison.