Multilingual alphabet with gorgeous hand-coloured engravings, 1820

Wenzl HOFFMANN: NEUES ABC BUCH IN BRUCHSTÜCKEN FÜR DIE JUGEND HERAUSGEGEBEN. With 64 hand-coloured engravings. Prague: [ca. 1820].

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Wenzl HOFFMANN: NEUES ABC BUCH IN BRUCHSTÜCKEN FÜR DIE JUGEND HERAUSGEGEBEN. Engraved title plate and 21 plates with a total of 63 hand-coloured engravings, and in parts albumen heightened, as well as captions with different typesets in German, French, Latin, Italian and Czech beneath. Prague: Wenzl Hoffmann [ca. 1820].

8°. 22 not numbered engraved plates, thread stiched and with contemporary marbled wrappers.

Particularly rare multilingual alphabet with gorgeous hand-coloured and partly albumen heightened engravings, depicting mostly animals, flowers, fruits and plants, but also humans in everyday scenes.

Contents, Illustrator: The author, illustrator and printer of this outstanding ABC-book, Prague based engraver Wenzl (or Václav František) Hoffmann (died 1858), was specialising in primers, as indicate 2 similar publications in those years (»Neues A-B-C-Büchel« from ca. 1820, with captions in German, Latin, French, Italian, Hebrew and Czech; »Neues deutsches ABC Buch« from 1827, with captions in German and Hebrew, each accompanied with two lines of German verse).

Hoffmann also illustrated the Old Testament. He obviously also had a passion for authoritative pedagogics, as indicates a poem incorporated in the title engraving about the ideal of children obedience: „Ich bin ein Kind und weiß noch nicht, mich selbst zu bilden, selbst zu bessern, Gehorsam soll mein Herz vergrößern, und Folgsamkeit sei meine Pflicht.“ With the printing permission of the Metternich censors incorporated in the title engraving („mit Genehmhaltung der k.k. Censur / No 111“).

Condition: Spine of wrappers, some small faults at corners and tear in leaf 10 professionally restored, foxy throughout, however mostly at margins. The engravings are well printed and with bright and fresh colours.

Rarity: Present alphabet book is of outstanding rarity. WorldCat, KVK and viaLibri Libraries quote no institutional holdings at all and there is no auction result available in Europe, UK and the US whatsoever.

References: Not in Teistler and not in Wegehaupt; Chyba, Dictionary of Bookbinders in Czechoslovakia from the Earliest Times to 1860, vol. 1 (1966), cit. WBIS/CSBA (Hoffmann).