Vienna: Gedruckt und in Commission der Mechitaristen-Congregations-Buchhandlung, 1836. Quarto (25.8 × 19.7 cm). Contemporary half-calf over marbled boards; spine gilt-tooled, with black spine label; engraved frontis portrait, xxi, , 441,  pp. abd 72 [i.e. 71] leaves of plates (two double-folded and double-numbered). Boards and spine rubbed; corners somewhat scuffed; contemporary stamps of a "Taubstummeninstitut" (institution for the deaf) in Graz; else internally very good.
First edition of the first major work on the education of deaf children to reach an enthuasiastic international audience, including in North America. Franz Herrmann Czech (1788-1847) was a priest of the Piarist Order who was first active in Nikolsburg and later an instructor in philosophy at the Theresianum in Vienna, before becoming instructor in religion at the Vienna Deaf Mute Institute (Taubstummeninstitut) in 1818. Together with the director of the Institute, Michael Venus, he set about improving existing systems of instructing deaf children. In 1845 he founded his own education institution for the deaf in Nikolsburg. Czech's achievement lay in fusing the pure articulation method developed by Samuel Heinicke (Germany, 18th century) with the sign language customary in French deaf education, which had been pioneered by Charles-Michel de l'Épée. This modified, bilingual combination of visual sign language and orality became known as the Austrian method and was the basis for a wide network of schools supported by charitable organizations in the nineteenth century. The preface makes a case for the state's responsibility to care for and educate the deaf, giving them equal rights as citizens, and clears up misconceptions about supposed physical and mental "defects" of the deaf. With a striking engraved frontispiece depicting the author gesturing toward the heavens, surrounded by six deaf boys using sign language. The finely executed plates constitute a kind of "Orbis pictus" for the deaf and show various organs of speech, children signing, arts and trades, natural history, plants and animals, geography, instruments, and religious rituals. Strikingly, they also use pictograms to illustrate linguistic concepts such as numbers, verbs, and possessive pronouns. The plates are variously signed "A. Hofbauer," "Joh. Boehm," "Lor. Rieder," "C. Seipp" or "A. Seipp," "F. Dirnbacher," "Weinrauch," "F. Zastera," "Friedrich Treu," and "E.W. Piskacz." Originally issued in two volumes, with the fine engraved plates printed on laid paper and of somewhat larger format; here bound as one, as is often the case. As of August 2019, we can only trace one copy of the first edition (1836) in North America, at Princeton.
Book ID: 50171