Printing for the blind

My new catalogue related to Art and Design has just been published, and includes books, manuscripts and objects –  for example:


1860 printing set


An unusual mid 19th century mahogany portable braille embossing set for the blind, with ahinged ‘galley’, and a lidded compartment divided into 30 sections containing 50 printing blocks with pins. Someslight wear and a crack to the hinged compartment lid, but otherwise in very good state.
380mm x 350mm x 38mm. c1860.

~ The first book embossed for blind people was produced in 1786. In 1832 the Edinburgh Society of Arts offered a gold medal for the best printing method for the blind. It was won by Dr E. Fry of London, and in 1836 John Alston began to print with an embossed type based on Fry’s design.

You can see the full catalogue here.

title page

Devils & Demons, an early traveller’s protection

Recently sold to a major American Library.

DEVILS & DEMONS. A very rare Jesuit pocket devotional, with prayers against devils, one  issued by the Inquisition in Turin in the late 16th century.  It has been assembled, in the early 18th century, either by a priest, or a European traveller, to protect them against demons and other dangers.

It contains:

Oratio Contra Omnes, tum Maleficorum, tum Daemonum Incursus.  A prayer against those who use the art of the devils.  It bears two printed stamps of the Jesuit order. Woodcut and letterpress.  “Fr Bartholomaeus Rocca Palermo Inq [uisitor] Taurini vidit, permittitque ut imprimatur.” This is the imprimatur of Fr. Bartholomeus Rocca de Palermo Inq. Taurini (of the Inquisition in Turin).

There is also another folded prayer sheet, with portraits of the Saints surrounding a Cross with the Virgin Mary.  It is in Latin and German.  “Contra Mala Pestem et…. Tempestates”


The two prayers are accompanied by 9 small vignette woodcuts representing St. Anthony of Padua, St. Athanasius, John Népumocène, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and others.  These are mounted, onto an earlier, possibly 17th century French vellum manuscript document.  Four of the vignettes lift up to reveal further portraits of Saints, as well as the two folded prayer sheets.

The devotional folds into a pocket size piece.

Some creasing and worn in places, but a rare survival of such an ephemeral and fragile item.