16° (15 x 11 cm / 6 x 4.5 inches): Collation Complete – [1, Title], Folding Map, 60 pp., bound in original printed paper wrappers (Very Good, original wrappers lightly toned with stain in upper left part of front cover, contemporary inscription in pen to lower margin of front cover, but internally overall nice and clean).
This excellent and extremely rare little work, illustrated with its own custom map, describes the Solar Eclipse of July 28, 1851, and specifically its appearance over the Austrian Habsburg Empire. The Solar Eclipse of July 28, 1851 was a complete eclipse whose central track ran across Northern Canada, Greenland and Iceland, before traversing Continental Europe over southern Norway and Sweden, before heading east-southeast across Poland and then into the Ukraine.
Due to the advent of modern technology, the eclipse was well documented, and was famously was the subject of the earliest scientifically useful photograph of a total solar eclipse, made by Julius Berkowski at the Royal Observatory in Königsberg, Prussia (today Kaliningrad, Russia), which remains an object of great fascination and beauty.
The present work, issued in Vienna shortly after the event itself, features a detailed, yet well-written, textual description of the Eclipse by Rudolph Alois Fröhlich. It is illustrated by a custom map, ‘Die Sonnenfinsterniß am 28 Juli 1851’ (folding, 15 x 18 cm), that focuses on the Austrian Habsburg Empire, extending from Göttingen, in the northwest, and Rome, in the southwest, all the way over to Odessa, Ukraine, in the east. The map correctly shows the path of the total eclipse running across the upper-left of the map, as well as bands of where the eclipse is visible in its majority, further to the southwest. As shown, while the total eclipse was not visible anywhere in Austrian territory, it was visible in its majority virtually everywhere in the empire, allowing astronomers to make meaningful observations. Indeed, some of the highest quality observations of the eclipse from anywhere in Europe were made at the Vienna Observatory by Karl Ludwig Edler von Littrow (1811 – 1877). It is likely that much of the information supplied by this work was derived from Littrow and his associates. Interestingly, the work concludes with a list of the anticipated solar eclipses that would occur in the future, from 1857 to 1900.
The publisher of this pamphlet, Albert A. Wenedikt (1820 – 1896, sometimes spelled ‘Wenedict’ or ‘Benedikt’), was the son of the printer Josef Wenedikt, and founded his own publishing and bookselling business in 1849, at premises located at Bürgerspitalplatz 1100, Vienna. A boutique firm, Wenedikt focused on publishing small, but well researched, scientific works, such as the present eclipse pamphlet, as well works on linguistics.
While his name is not mentioned anywhere in the work itself, the Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek attributes the authorship of the present pamphlet to Rudolph Alois Fröhlich (fl. 1840-72), a Vienna based writer closely associated with the Wenedikt family. Fröhlich was best known for his works on Slavic languages, such as Kurz Gefasste Tebellarisch Bearbeitete Anleitung Zur Schnellen Erlernung Der Vier Slawischen Hauptsprachen (Vienna: Josef Wenedikt, 1847) and Handwörterbuch der ilirischen und deutschen Sprache (Vienna: Albert A. Wenedikt, 2 vols., 1853-4).
The present work is extremely rare. We cannot trace any references in literature and can find only a single other example, at the Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek.
References: Österreichischen Bibliothekenverbund (OBV): AC05897510.