From Recreations in Mathematics, by H. E. Licks (Van Nostrand, 1917):
John W. Nystrom of Philadelphia devised about fifty years ago the tonal system of numeration in which 16 is the base instead of 10 as in the decimal system. The numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., were called An, De, Ti, Go, etc., and new characters were devised for 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. This system embraced also a new division of the year into 16 months, these having the names Anuary, Debrian, Timander, Gostus, Suvenary, Bylian, Ratamber, Mesidius, Nictorary, Kolumbian, Husander, Victorius, Lamboary, Polian, Fylander, Tonborious, the first two letters of each month being the names of the sixteen numerals.
This is slightly inaccurate. The figure 9 was used for 10, on the principle of making the digits for 8 or greater look like those of their 16's complements written upside down; and a new figure was devised for 9. The name of 12 was Vy, not Vi; and I believe that the meth, nith, vyth, and tonth months were named Mesudius, Nictoary, Vyctorius, and Tonborius.

The year began at the winter solstice, that being the Anth of Anuary. Every month had tonra days except for Debrian, Gostus, and Lamboary, which had only tonby, but Debrian had an extra day in leap years.

The powers of ton were: ton, san, mill, bong. These could be used as prefixes to indicate multiplication or as suffixes to indicate division. For instance, the day was divided into ton (sixteen) tims, a tim into ton timtons, and a timton into ton timsans. For more information see the article John W. Nystrom at Wikipedia.

H. E. Licks was the pseudonymous author of the Diaphote Hoax of 1880, a widely circulated report of a television-like device that used a selenium-coated receiver and a bundle of wires. In real life Licks was Mansfield Merriman, a professor at Lehigh University. For more information see the H. E. Licks page at André Lange's History of Television site.
Col. George Sicherman [ HOME | MAIL ]