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Books: Course in Pitman Shorthand

There was a time when bookstores and office supply shops had rows of books on shorthand systems. These days, you won’t find any in a regular bookstore, although a handful of titles are available online.

This book, available from Amazon, is one of those “print-on-demand” publications, where the publishers, Kessinger, have taken an old title and brought it back from the dead to sell to a niche market. This one is a reproduction of a Pitman workbook printed in Toronto in 1924. Although the material is old, it does cover the right version of Pitman – that’s Pitman New Era, the final, and fastest version of Pitman, which was invented in 1922, and continued to be used, with only minor changes, until the 1980s.

The publishers’ books on Amazon all have “Copyrighted Material” printed at the top of the sample pages, although most of their books – and perhaps all – have been in the public domain for years.

I don’t own this book, so I can’t comment on the binding. I assume that, unlike most original, used copies you might find, it doesn’t have yellow pages or smell of mothballs and cat pee. That’s a plus.

You can read quite a bit of the content on Amazon, using their “Look Inside” feature. The book has the lengthy openings which are common in those old books. “Prepare yourself thoroughly and diligently, and with the mastery of that art you will be ready for your march ONWARD and UPWARD.”

Indeed.

You get nearly 200 pages of lessons and sample readings. The lessons are pretty much the same as you’ll find in any other Pitman book. The examples are duller. It’s packed with Constructive And Useful Advice for the Young Person.Readings include edifying instructions on “Some Hints of Business Good Manners”, uplifting sermons on “Habits of Work”, and much wisdom upon the important topic of “Singleness of Purpose”. Unfortunately, there’s no key, so you can’t check your answers, or look up a character you’re having trouble with.

Still, for twenty bucks or so, it’s not bad value. So drink deep from this golden cup of knowledge, and remember always that Excellence in Penmanship derives from a sharp eye and a sound mind, unsullied by the Demon Drink, or the excesses of Lustful Urges and the Sin of Onanism.

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