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DALMATIA – UNUSUAL PRINTING: Karte des Königreichs Dalamtien.


Unusual printing: Map of the Kingdom of Dalmatia printed in four colours in letterpress in Vienna. 


This stunning map printed in colours shows the Kingdom of Dalmatia, a crown land of the Austrian Empire (1815–1867) with its capital Zadar. The Kingdom of Dalmatia was founded after the Napoleonic wars, at the Congress of Vienna 1814-15, and existed until the end of the WWI in 1918.


The key shows the capital city, cities, towns, markets, villages, separate houses, country borders, provincial borders, administrative borders, war borders, rivers appropriate for sailing, sea currents and steamer routes.


All the lines are printed in clear letterpress lines in green, black, blue and red.


Franz Raffelsberger’s letter-press

Franz Raffelsberger was born in Modra in today’s Slovakia (in the 19th century a part of the Habsburg monarchy). In 1820 he started working at a post office, where he started collecting maps and other material on postal systems in order to improve the services. In 1835 Raffelsberger, who only had a basic education in mapmaking or printing, started experimenting with different printing methods, especially with printing maps with letterpress.


In 1837 he received a privilege for printing maps in letterpress. As he did not own his own printing shop he had to cooperate with other Viennese publishers.


Raffelsberger’s printing technique was relatively simple. A sheet of paper was stabilised to a printing table by thin metal spikes. The strategically placed holes in the blank margins of the map show where the spikes were admitted. The strategically punctured plates were then run through the spikes, so that they precisely struck the paper in the intended manner. Precision was even more important for this technique that e normal copper plate printing.


Advantages of Raffelsberger’s printing technique were quick possible corrections and printing in different languages. His first map printed in letter-press was the postal chart of the Kingdom of Austria General-Post-Karte des Kaiserthums Österreich…, printed in 1837. It was published in the variations of three and four colours, and in German, Hungarian, Italian, French and English language, as well as in some other languages (Mayer 1883, p. 222).


A contemporary report writes about Raffelsberger:

“There were many tries made to produce geographic maps in the manner of typography and for a long time and with big costs the Didot’s book printing office in Paris was unsuccessfully busy with this matters. The present gentleman [Raffeldberger] has managed to solve this task happily in 1835 and has managed to open a new field of production of typography. And though it became possible not only to produce not only maps, but also prints of all sorts, made for small amounts of money, in all the languages, in many colours and in an unlimited examples (Ausführlicher bericht über die von dem Gewerbverein für das grossherzogthum…, Ed. Hektor Rössler, 1843, p. 233).”


In 1839 Raffelsberger received a gold medal in Vienna for his industrial achievements.


In 1841 Reffelsberger published the first edition of this atlas Austria, Erster Typometrischer Atlas für Geschäftsleute jeder Art, Gymnasien, Schulen und Zeitungsleser. The atlas included 15 maps of different scales, some of which were printed on two pages. Raffelsberger also published some of this maps separately and as folding maps. He published this atlas in many editions – most of them were most probably only a result of experimenting with his printing technique. In 1843 he printed an atlas of Europe with 24 maps.


In 1843 he founded his company K. k. außerordentlich ausschließlich privilegierte typograph.-geograph. Kunstanstalt (Emperor’s extraordinary exclusively privileged typographical-geographical art workshop) in Vienna, but only a year later he got into trouble with Viennese book printers, which accused him of “disturbance”, as he was printing not only maps, but also an accompanying text to them, what was against the regulations of the book printers’ guild. Raffelsberger was forced to move to Leipzig, where he was finally able to open his own printer’s shop. He got specialised in broadsides and newspapers. Among others he was also publishing his own newspaper Der Unpartheiische.


Although active as a map maker and publisher, he was still active at the Austrian post office, but got suspended in 1849 and fired in 1851. After 1849 he retired from the public life and dedicated the last years of his life to writing.


Raffelsberger, today very much underappreciated as a mapmaker, was in the 1830s and 1840s mostly known for his separately published maps of the Austrian Empire, showing the postal routes and railways. He also published a map of Paris, Budapest and Warsaw, and was experimenting with printing portraits and unusual letters. Known is his series of Chinese letters and 31 proofs of oriental scripts. An article from 1883 mentions Raffelsberger’s manual on typography with printing patterns and a globe (Mayer 1883, p. 222).


All of his maps printed in colour are rare on the market.


Lieterature: Constantin von Wurzbach: Raffelsperger, Franz. In: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich. 24. Theil. Kaiserlich-königliche Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Wien 1872, S. 225–227; Ausführlicher bericht über die von dem Gewerbverein für das grossherzogthum…, Ed. Hektor Rössler, 1843, p. 233; Anton Mayer, Wiens buchdrucker-geschichte, 1482-1882, 1883, pp. 221-223; Österreichische Blätter für Literatur und Kunst, Geschichte …, Vol 3, 1846, p. 1047.

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