Johann Wilhelm Klein’s 1807 Printing Device for the Blind

Johann Wilhelm Klein (1765-1848) was a pioneer of education for blind people. According to online sources, “on 13 May 1804 Klein began to teach a young blind man, James Brown, at home, with government support. Thus arose the first blind institute in Germany. Klein’s mission in life was now the care of the blind, the education and career guidance to make it in the world of work. in 1807 Klein presented his Stachelschrift, a printing device with which he could type the upper-case letters of the Latin script and create marks in dotted form in the paper. For the blind this writing was not easy to read and to write by hand was hard even for the sighted. Klein rejected Braille because of their dissimilarity from the script of the sighted.”

In 1819 he wrote a Textbook for Instruction of the Blind, see: Johann Wilhelm Klein (1765-1848) Lehrbuch zum Unterrichte der Blinden: um ihnen ihren Zustand zu erleichtern, sie nützlich zu beschäftigen und sie zur bürgerlichen Brauchbarkeit zu bilden (Wien : Gedruckt bey Anton Strauss, 1819). Ex 2008-1453N Gift; History of Education Collection in honor of Harold T. Shapiro’s Cabinet, 1988-2001 Here is the entry on another Klein box from the exhibition “Touching the Book.”

Our box, a gift from Bruce Willsie ’86, has a hinged slatted lid over a felt ‘writing’ pad over a small paper drawer with an adjacent compartment for storing the printing blocks. There are 25 smaller printing blocks (lacking ‘X’), a stop block, a spacing block, and 21 larger printing blocks (lacking ‘E’, ‘H’, ‘I’, ‘V’, ‘W’, & ‘X’, with and additional ‘M’). The box is 33 x 34 x 10 cm.

I have not checked this bibliography but it might be helpful:

Friedrich Benesch (1977), “Klein, Johann Wilhelm”, Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 11, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 742–743

August Hirsch (1882), “Klein, Johann Wilhelm”, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 16, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 97–98

“Klein Johann Wilhelm”. In: Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950 (ÖBL). Vol. 3, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 1965, p. 382.

Klein, Johann Wilhelm in Constant of Wurzbach, Biographical Encyclopedia of the Empire, Austria, volume 12, page 51, Vienna, Imperial Court and State Printing 1864

Karl Heinz Scheible: Johann Wilhelm Klein . In: Wulf-Dietrich Kavasch, Günter Lemke and Albert Schlagbauer (eds): 2002, ISBN 3-923373-54-6, pp. 313–357