- Aug 2021
Since the reader was able to shape hand and finger as he or she saw fit, we can sometimes recognise a particular reader within a single manuscript, or even within the books of a library. The charming hands function as a kind of fingerprint of a particular reader, allowing us to assess what he or she found important about a book or a collection of books.
I've heard the word "hand" as in the phrase "an operator's hand" used in telegraphy to indicate how an experienced telegraph operator could identify the person at the other end with whom they were communicating by the pace and timbre of the code. I've particularly heard reference to it by code breakers during wartime. It's much the same sort of information as identifying someone by their voice on the phone or in a distinctive walk as seen at a distance. I've also thought of using this idea in typing as a means of secondary confirmation for identifying someone while they input a password on a keyboard.
I wonder if that reference predates this sort of similar "hand" use for identifying someone, if this may have come first, or if they're independent of each other?