First editions of various Austrian lesson books for blind children from a single turn-of-the-century publisher, in both Braille and an embossed Latin alphabet, showing the field's move toward the Braille system.
Very good overall.
Nine Volumes of Austrian Lesson Books for the Blind
Though Braille is now the dominant alphabet for the blind, "the system was not given an immediate welcome" note Carter and Morison in PRINTING AND THE MIND OF MAN; indeed, Braille was one of several competing writing and printing systems for the blind until 1878, when an international congress for blind education in Paris selected it as the standard. Even so, the output of pedagogical materials did not immediately pivot to Braille, as can be seen in the earlier volumes of this set of Austrian easy readers.
These volumes contain various short stories, proverbs, and descriptions of seasons, weather, and the natural world, with the earlier volumes in the embossed alphabet, and the latter fully in Braille. The books published in the 1890s demonstrate the transitional period as Braille was adopted as a standard: the titles in Braille feature a key that glosses the embossed alphabet to its Braille counterpart, which is absent in the later books. This set is a snapshot of the slow but deliberate shift to the new standard.
Austria has been called the "cradle of education for the blind," owing to its early establishment of K.K. Blinden-Erziehungs-Institut, a school for the blind in Vienna in 1804 (Monroe). Among the authors of the works in this collection are some of Austria's leading lights of blind education: Alexander Mell, director of the Blinden-Erziehungs-Institut, who also expanded its library; Emerich Gigerl, who explored the importance of how blind children strengthen their motor skills; Simon Heller, director of the Israelitischen Blindeninstituts, specializing in the education of blind Jewish children. Austrian books for the education of the blind are now difficult to find: Mell's grand library was "almost completely destroyed by the Nazis" in Word War II, a fate that was common for many such collections (Stuckey).
Read more: Paul Monroe, A Cyclopedia of Education, volume 1 page 396; Kenneth Stuckey, "Samuel P. Hayes Research Library," The Lantern, winter 1980; John Carter and Stanley Morison, Printing and the Mind of Man, page 176.
Wien [Vienna]: K. K. Schulbücherverlage, 1884, 1892, 1894, 1903, 1913. Full titles: LESEBUCH FŪR BLINDENSCHULEN, II THEIL; LESEBUCH FŪR BLINDENSCHULEN, III THEIL, 1 BAND; LESEBUCH FŪR BLINDENSCHULEN, III THEIL, 2 BAND; LESEBUCH FŪR ÖSTERREICHISCHE BLINDENSCHULEN, II THEIL; LESEBUCH FŪR ÖSTERREICHISCHE BLINDENSCHULEN, III THEIL; LESEBUCH FŪR ÖSTERREICHISCHE BLINDENSCHULEN, IV THEIL; LESEBUCH FŪR ÖSTERREICHISCHE BLINDENSCHULEN, V THEIL. Varying 13'' - 13.5'' x 10''. Four volumes in quarter black cloth with marbled boards, three volumes with paper-covered boards, two volumes with paste paper-covered boards. Volumes each with circa 100 leaves. One volume with paper label in Braille to front board, two volumes with number labels "2334" and "2335". Bindings with edgewear and a few small spots of loss, some scuffing to boards; a couple corners tender. Leaves with some soiling, damping, and wear to margins, with a few small closed tears; several volumes lacking endpapers. Embossing sharp.
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