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Philip Mills Arnold Semeiology Collection

A text with a Hrabanus Shield Man drawn in the middle; text within the lines of the shield man is a different color (red) from the rest of the text on the page (black).

The Philip Mills Arnold Semeiology Collection is perhaps the most varied and unusual of the rare book collections. Broadly concerned with the history of communications, its particular strengths are in the areas of cryptography; artificial memory; decipherment of ancient writing systems; universal languages; and early developments in stenography, Braille, languages for the deaf, and various forms of non-verbal communication.

The replica is a folded book with drawings on both sides and the ends posted with tougher book covers.
A replica of the Codex Cospi from the Arnold Semeiology Collection.

Philip Mills Arnold (1911-1994) began collecting books while he was a student at Washington University. In the beginning, he focused on books that discussed the theory of colors but soon broadened his focus to means of communication other than ordinary language. Arnold was a meticulous collector who carefully considered each acquisition. He outlined his selection process in a 1966 letter to Special Collections, noting eleven collecting areas with a brief description of each. After his initial gift, Arnold worked with Special Collections to continue to develop and expand the collection, regularly sending a suitcase of books to the library.

The Philip Mills Arnold Collection includes materials from the fifteenth century to the present with both printed and manuscript books. In addition to the books, the collection contains semiology-related ephemera, manuscripts, archival materials, and his personal papers. Arnold’s personal papers include his publications, materials related to his career as a chemical engineer, correspondence, photographs, and bookseller catalogs.