I’ve only begun dipping into The World’s Writing Systems, edited by Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, but I have to pass along this bit from the first chapter, “The Study of Writing Systems” (by Daniels):
One of the most influential scholars in the early nineteenth century, whose name is now absent from the histories of philology—perhaps he has been forgotten because he was a generalist—is Ulrich Friedrich Kopp. His Bilder und Schriften der Vorzeit (1821) is a very rare book, but it includes pioneering investigations in many fields, including European and Semitic antiquities. His work would well repay careful study, though no single modern scholar would be competent to evaluate it in its entirety.
I have two things to say about this (other than that he sounds like an interesting guy):
1. When The World’s Writing Systems came out, in 1996, if you were intrigued by the “very rare book” and wanted to consult it, you would have had to travel to a major research library (in my case, the nearest that has it is apparently Sterling Memorial Library, where I spent so many happy hours in grad school). Now, it’s accessible to everyone via Google Books (Vol. 1, Vol. 2).
2. We have another name to add to the already impressive group of Pott, Bopp, Rask, Fick, and Grimm (not to mention Grot). What was it about the nineteenth century and monosyllabic philologists?
(He’s not quite forgotten, by the way, according to today’s standard measure: he has Wikipedia pages, but only in French—a mere stub—and Russian, only slightly fuller. Come on, German speakers, step up to the plate and support your philological traditions!)