Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials. Cyrus Leroy Baldridge.
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials
Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials

Manuscript Composed in an Invented Cryptogrammatic Visual Language, With Key and Related Materials

np: nd [c. 1940's]. Four commercial bound volumes, two of which are diaries, one a daily planner, and one marked "notes". With additional ephemera, including two photographs.

Cyrus Leroy Baldridge, an artist, writer, Socialist and adventurer, was one of the most unusual popular artists of the early 20th century. In the last decade of the 29th century, when Baldridge was a child, his mother left his father and began a nomadic existence as a travelling salesman, a period of time which would have an uncalculable influence upon him. At the age of 10 he was accepted as the youngest student in Frank Holme's Chicago School of Illustration, and subsequently attended the University of Chicago. After his graduation, he worked for stints in a Settlement House and in the stockyards, as well as a cowboy in Texas.

During the Great War Baldridge became a war correspondent, witnessing the horrors of the war in Belgium and France, and attracted reknown for his illustrations related to the war. Shortly thereafter he married the writer Caroline Singer, and the two embarked on a curious and nomadic existence, travelling the world without funds or any special backing. Alexander Woollcott wrote of the two in 1927, that "With greater success than anyone I know, he has refused to let the deoposits and accretions of civilization [affect him], and Caroline Singer is his partner in vagrancy. [They travel] light through this complicated world [and] will have no impediments, such as contacts and neighbors and possessions hold them back.... [They can lodge with equal comfort in the Ritz or the nearest haystack and move from one to the other with the readiest adaptability].

Out of this period came their jointly authored work "White Africans and Black", and the beginning of a committment to the cause of the African-American at the time. Baldridge worked for the Urban Leage periodical Opportunity and also illustrated works of Black writers.

The cryptogrammatic language in which the diary is written is unlike any we have ever seen. Rather than being a linear language, each page is filled with diagrammatic sentences made of linked symbols which at times appear like concrete poems or architectural blueprints, some also involving numbered sections. Some sections include colored pencil. A key to the language is included, though there is no explanation for the incorporation of numbers, or for how the spacial arrangement of the cursive is incorporated in the meaning. We suspect this to have been written in the early 1940's, during WWII, a time which furthered Baldridge's committment to Socialism and to working against the rightward movement of the culture.

Baldridge and Singer moved to New Mexico following the war, where Baldridge pursued painting. Singer died in 1962 after a bout of dementia. In 1977, as his health fled Baldridge killed himself with the service pistol he had been issued in the Great War. Item #26715

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