William Moon (1818–1894).
A Simplified Sytem of Embossed Reading for the Use of the Blind.
London: Moon’s Establishment . . . for the Blind, [ca. 1850].
As a child William Moon contracted scarlet fever, which eventually caused him to lose his sight. Dissatisfied with early reading systems produced for the blind, which were difficult to comprehend through touch, Moon devised a simplified alphabetical typeface in 1845 with which he published short devotional readings and a monthly magazine. By 1850 Moon had begun to publish single books of the Bible, and charitable contributions allowed him to sell these at prices below cost. Although surpassed in effectiveness by Louis Braille’s positional raised-dot reading system, Moon’s alphabet remained popular among those who had not mastered Braille.
In the exhibited book, the title page provides a specimen alphabet and printed instructions to sighted teachers for using Moon’s “simplified system of embossed reading,” but it fails to mention that the book itself contains the text of Psalms 1 through 49. On the first page an instructor has added line numbers and verse divisions in black ink, while Psalm 1 is marked “1st mor[ning].” Subsequent psalms were marked for regular morning or evening readings through the end of the ninth day. The name of the instructor who used this copy may have been “Stanley Quinn,” who inscribed the title page using Moon’s alphabet.