Throwback Thursday Object: Klein Pin Type--Another Method for Writing Tactile Letters
Johann Wilhelm Klein (1765-1848) founded the Blindeninstitut Wien (Vienna Institute for the Blind) in 1804. We tend to focus on the inventions of the French—and they were significant! —but the Austrians and Germans made important early contributions to education for people who were blind too. Around 1807 Klein developed pin-type, a portable device allowing the user to emboss capital letters of the Latin alphabet by piercing the paper with needles arranged on a block. With some difficulty, the method could be read both by touch and sight. Eventually Klein pin-type boxes were also manufactured and used in other European countries and the U.S. It is a flat wooden box, hinged on one side, a wooden grid in the base holds metal types, each with a raised letter on one end and a series of needles in the rough shape of the letter on the other. A frame in the lid is hinged to lift up so a piece of paper can be inserted between the frame and a wool pad. The frame keeps the lines of your type neat and straight.
Photo Captions: #1 Wooden case of pin type; #2 Detail of the alloy types, with raised letter on top, and needles on bottom.
Micheal A. Hudson
American Printing House for the Blind