In a continuing series on the History of Dots I'd like to add the following, disconnected though they are, so I don't lose them in the coming mix. It is also one of my few chances to actually need to use the word "scrofula"--a lonely, ugly word, a word as unpretty as "Susquehanna" is pretty, a word that should be as timid, but isn't, a word that really exercises all parts of your mouth when you say it out loud. (Try it--there's like five or six movements involved in getting that past your lips.)
To be truthful about it, it isn't so much about scrofula as it is about the "curing " of the disease with special little pills: the Popular Pill! This woodcut appears in a short sales treatise, published in London in 1675 or so, by Humphrey Nendick, (the delightfully titled) A Compendium of the Operations Vertues and Use of Dr. Nendicks Applauded Pill, against all Chronick Diseases,m curing by the cleansing of the blood, That most successful medicine, which is so deservedly called, the Popular Pill. For its Spcial vertues, safety and success, against the Dangerous and our Nations Popular Disease, the Scurvy. I'm not so sure about what
Dr. Nendick was up to with the pill, but I do know that is was obtainable from grocers, bakers, cutlers, gunsmiths and barbers all over England at three shillings for forty tiny dots of possible joy. Its imaginary Galenical powers were supposed to bear against the tedium and insolence of all manners of scurvies and popular complaints--much like its contemporary dot/pill rivals like Pilulae Anti-Scurbuticae (sold at the Carv'd Posts in Stonecutter Street between Shoe Lane and Fleet Ditch (!)).
Albrecht Durer doesn't seem to have many dots at all in his works, though I did stumble upon this image from Sebastan Brant's Navis Stultifera (Basle, 1497)--a fool interrupting a mother and daughter who were "discussing" their game of backgammon.
On the other hand the history of the construction of the periodic table is necessarily filled with dots, as we see with the monarchical creation of John Dalton (1766-1844), in his New System of Chemical Philosophy (part II), and which was printed in 1810--these symbols were sued to visually represent the atomic structure of compounds, and were of vast importance and predictive powers, marking the true modernizing of chemistry. It was in Part I of this work that Dalton first applied atomic theory to chemistry.
This last element for this installment on dots simplifies things enormously, sort of, even though these dots represent the very building blocks of almost everything else. They represent counting. And they are beautifully present in this image from Franz Brauner's Rechenbuch fuer osterreichische Volksschulen (published in 1953). Funny that this "Rechenbuch" turns up again here in 1953--its been the major part of titles of books describing the laws of arithmetic for 450 years.