Atlas for The Blind 1837
This Atlas of the United States Printed for the Use of the Blind was “printed” in 1837. Samuel Gridley Howe along with the assistance of John C. Cray and Samuel P. Ruggles produced the atlas without any ink. Instead, art and text were embossed on heavyweight paper. While the Braille system had been invented 12 years earlier, its use was not as widespread as it is today and it couldn’t represent geography well.
Only 50 copies of the atlas were ever produced, and a mere 5 survive today. The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection owns the copy photographed here. They lit the pages from the side so that shadows can make the embossing more visible.
The entire atlas can be viewed online at David Rumsey.