“serendipity”: a phenomenon of good luck, or an aptitude or faculty for making desirable discoveries not sought for (coined January 28, 1754 by English author, Horace Walpole, from characters in the Persian fairytale, “The Three Princes of Serendip”, who made such discoveries).
For many years even before I became the LMLK enthusiast I am today, I’ve been intending to purchase one or more of David Diringer’s books about Writing. Beyond his many journal articles & other scholarly History-book chapters, he wrote, co-wrote, or edited several books on this fascinating subject:
- “Alphabet: A Key to the History of Mankind, The”
- “Hand Produced Book” (companion volume to “The Alphabet”)
- “Book Before Printing: Ancient, Medieval & Oriental, The” (reprint of “The Hand Produced Book”)
- “Alphabet Exhibition: The Alphabet Throughout the Ages & In All Lands”
- “Alphabet Throughout the Ages and in All Lands, The” (reprint of “Alphabet Exhibition”)
- “History of the Alphabet: Throughout the Ages & in All Lands, A” (reprint of “Alphabet Exhibition” w/ new foreword by Clive H. Martin)
- “Illuminated Book: Its History & Production, The”
- “Story of the Aleph Beth, The”
- “Writing: Its Origins & Early History” (volume 25 in the “Ancient Peoples And Places” series)
Hutchinson & Co. Ltd.; April 1948, April 1949, January 1953, October 1953 (607 pp.)
New York: Funk & Wagnalls; 1968 (2 volumes: 473 pp., 452 plates)
London: Hutchinson’s Scientific and Technical Publications; 1953
New York: Philosophical Library; 1953
New York: Dover Publications; 1982, 1986 (601 pp. w/ 185 photos)
London: Staples Press; 1953 (82 pp.)
London: Staples Press; 1975 (78 pp.)
UK: Unwin Brothers; 1977 (78 pp.)
London: Gresham Books, Henley-on-Thames; 1977 (78 pp.)
London: Faber & Faber; 1958 (524 pp., 6 color plates)
New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers; 1967 (revised by Dr. Reinhold Regensburger; 514 pp.)
New York: Thomas Yoseloff; 1958, 1960 (195 pp.)
London: Thames & Hudson; 1962
New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, New York; 1962, 1965, 1967
(261 pp., 78 photos, 49 line drawings & 3 maps)
(Note: These are all in English, though his landmark, extremely rare 1934 book, “Iscrizioni Antico-Ebraiche Palestinesi”, was in Italian.)
In my quest to acquire autographs by LMLK VIPs, Diringer’s has eluded me even though his was the first I ever saw (in the Bade library).
Ms. Irony & I have an intimate relationship!
It’s also ironic that someone with such a deep interest in, & vast knowledge of, writing apparently didn’t sign many copies of the books he authored (compared to contemporary LMLK luminaries such as William Albright, James Pritchard, & Yohanan Aharoni; I own several of each of theirs).
I decided to buy this 2-volume set when it became available at a bargain price (it normally sells from $40-$300; I stole one in near-mint condition for $15) even though it lacks his signature, because I simply love the history of writing–it being one of the excellent pieces of evidence supporting the belief that we live in a relatively young world per Genesis.
Naturally, the first thing I did was search the index for evidence of LMLK seals–usually the author will list “Hebron”, but none of the inscription words were present, nor any of the variant spellings of “LMLK” in the “L” section. It didn’t bother me, because I wasn’t expecting to find any. LMLK inscriptions may be important in the relatively short-lived Judean monarchy, but I don’t think of them as superstars in the entire history of Writing.
However, as I thumbed through Volume 2 containing the plates, being blown away by the incredible variety of specimens shown–things I never imagined existed, plus so many paleography tables that Diringer is well-known for–there they were on page 164:
And not just the usual lousy, poorly cropped stamps from Lachish, which Diringer is famous for publishing in PEQ vol. 73 (July 1941), but SIX additional handles unpublished elsewhere (1 Z4CI, 1 S4L, & 4 H4Ls)!
Imagine my glee!
Here’s the accompanying text from Volume 1 (p. 188):
“On various sites in southern Palestine many hundreds of jar-handles have been found which bear impressions of factory stamps (Fig. 14.5). Some of these are royal trade-marks, others reproduce the names of private pottery works, while others are Yehud stamps, ‘Jerusalem’ stamps, and so forth.”
He did not provide any specific credits for any of the photos, & because their resolution is so poor (the actual size of the page shown in the photo here is only 7.5×5.5″), I added them to the LMLK Research website yesterday since I doubt anyone at Funk & Wagnalls knows where these handles came from–I’m guessing they’re from Lachish at the British Museum (listed along with 12 other institutions on p. xiii of Volume 1), but they could very well be from Diringer’s own personal collection (although I can’t say for certain if he had one).
If anyone can prove where these 6 are, or where Diringer obtained the photos, please let me know & I’ll gladly provide proper credit, &/or remove them from the website if requested. Until then, it’s fair use to categorize them for research purposes. Besides, I spent extra time despeckling the greatly magnified ink dots (there are 3×127=381 possible settings), so the versions you see on the Research site our essentially my own rendition (ad-hoc original on left; despeckled on right):
And oh, by the way, this new batch pushes the total number of unique stamp photos on the LMLK Research website over 900 now!