I made a calligraphic version of the symbols on John Whitmer’s “Caractors” document.

I made this for part of a project that I am working on 🙂

For those unaware, between 1829-1831 John Whitmer copied down some of the Reformed Egyptian symbols which were supposedly on the Golden Plates and shown to Charles Anthon.. This document is known as the “Caractors Document“, because “characters” is misspelled at the top.

This is a document that I have seen many times over the years, but I had a realization this time ’round when I spent some time cataloging the similar symbols. The symbols at the top are all much larger than the symbols at the bottom. I had always thought that the symbols were just meant to be smaller, but I saw that there were identical symbols on the bottom and top row. This implies that Whitmer just ran out of room and was trying to cram as much as he could on here. Comedian John Mulaney put this phenomenon best.

Sure enough when I read the Historical Introduction on JSPP it said:

the number of characters per line increases while the size of each character decreases, suggesting that the scribe underestimated the space needed for the transcription.

After this realization I decided to standardize the sizing and try to make it look as calligraphic as possible.

I hope you enjoy it!

I’ve seen a couple of different people try to make sense of these symbols. I prefer the Tanners’ line of thought: “Reformed Egyptian” is actually “Deformed English”. Just take a look at this and this picture.

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