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15 - 16 June 1998
HAY, Valentin (1745-1822). Essai sur l'ducation des aveugles. Paris: les Enfans-Aveugles, under the direction of the royal printer, M. Clousier, 1786.
4o (246 x 193 mm). Type specimen overslip as frontispiece with text in two types (one displays Hay's embossed italic type). Contemporary French mottled sheep, spine gilt (head of spine chipped, surface skinned in a few places on rear cover).
FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST PRINTED BOOK INTENDED TO BE READ BY THE BLIND. Valentin Hay, the younger brother of Ren-Just Hay, founded the first school for the blind, the Institution Nationale des Jeunes Aveugles. Hay's mission was to teach the blind to read, write, and play music, and his revolutionary teaching methods are described in his Essai sur l'education des aveugles. Using a special large and a uniquely formed italic type, Hay devised a method of embossing the letters on single sides of the sheets which were then pasted together and gathered. The raised letters could be traced with the fingers thus allowing the blind to "read." This work displayed "his system of printing for the blind while at the same time proving its efficacy, since the book was printed by Hay's blind students under the direction of the royal printer Clousier. The majority of the book is printed in Hay's raised italic types (inked for the convenience of sighted persons)" (Norman).
The type specimen frontispiece reads in ordinary inked roman letters: "Tout ceci est miraculeux," and reads below in Hays embossed italic: "Ceci est merveilleux." VERY RARE. Garrison-Morton 5833 ("originated modern methods of teaching and caring for blind persons"); Norman 1023.
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