2 Zein boek Luytenant C C Becher..d'Kortenaar 1798. 106


Description: ECHER (BECKER), C.C.
Zein boek te zaamen getrokken door den Luytenant C C Becher aan boord d'Kortenaar anno 1798.
[At sea], 1798. 8vo. Manuscript written in Dutch in brown ink on laid paper, illustrated title-page with at the foot a view of a fleet with ships in full sail. The unidentified artist signed it with initials in the base of the level: "L.E.F." Further with a page for decoding signalling flags, with well over 100 colour drawings of about 65 flags, including 3 movable bands. Paper wrappers, with the title-page on the front wrapper.
€ 3,850
A manuscript flag signalling book by a Lieutenant in the navy of the Dutch Batavian Republic, the republic set up with the support of Napoleon's French Revolutionary army in 1795. It illustrates and describes the use of standards, pennants and flags to signal numbers, letters and other information. The signalling flags are all illustrated on an ingenious colour "Zein tabel" (sign table), drawn on the first page of a paper-covered paperboard bifolium. It shows 5 flags indicating the sort of boats on board the ship, 3 pennants to colour code three squadrons of ships, 6 flags to represent vowels, 12 pennants to represent consonants, 10 pennants to represent the fixed numbers 1-10 and the same 10 representing multiples of ten from 10 to 100 and 6 flags that appear to match those of various countries. Of special interest are three movable bands with flags. In this way one can shift the band relative to the key numbers written on the fixed page, so that the flags of each band can be keyed to the numbers in 8 different ways for the standards and 10 for the upper and lower flags. These are apparently intended for sending coded messages: the person receiving the signals needs to know how the band was positioned in order to translate the flags into numbers. In his note on the back of the title-page Becher urges his readers to keep information strictly secret. While printed Dutch guides to signalling with flags, had been published since at least 1746 we have seen none that provides the details for coded messages given here.
In very good condition, with only very minor damage at the fold of the wrappers, with the head of the inside of the wrappers dirty and with an occasional faint stain. The leaves have been trimmed close to the text, but with no loss. The movable bands seem never or hardly to have been shifted and show only very slight wear.
  • Number: 1060002
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum