Hands showing the sign language alphabet. Coloured etching.
From 'The art of talking with the fingers' at the Wellcome Institute.
"The learner will perceive, on a mere inspection, that the vowels, A,E,I,O and U, are represented by the thumb and fingers of the left hand, held up, as in the first figure. When a particular vowel is to be pointed out, it is to be done by distinctly touching the end of the finger which represents it, with the first finger of the right hand. The method of representing, or expressing, the other letters of the alphabet, is sufficiently described by the figures respectively annexed to the them in the plate, except that it will be necessary to point out to the learner the dotted lines in the figures H, and J, The first of these, proceeding from the end of the fingers of the left hand, indicates, that to express the letter H, the right-hand is to be passed over the left, passing it off in the direction of this line; whilst the second signifies, that to express the letter J, the end of the first finger of the right hand is to be drawn across the palm of the left hand, commencing the movement at the root or insertion of the first finger of the left hand. A fillip or flirt with the thumb and second finger of the right hand, is used to signify that the spelling of a word has been completed. It is hoped that this little publication will prove not merely the source of much innocent amusement, but that it will be found substantially valuable as a means of enabling persons unfortunately deprived of the usual organs of conversation, to carry on an intercourse with their friends."