ANLEITUNG ZUM GEBRAUCHE DER GANZ NEUERFUNDENEN... Berechnungs-ab und Aufstragsaparate von Spiegelglas... Mit drei lithographierten tafeln, und vier tabellen, Malczka,
1842. Bound manuscript in German, 4to; pp. [ii], xii, 128; with three folding illustrations and two double-sided folding tables; some occasional light browning and soiling, but otherwise clean and crisp; in contemporary green publisher’s decorative moired cloth, spine lettered in gilt, light wear to head and tail of spine with minor loss, covers very slightly soiled and scratched; a most attractive copy. A unique and finely written author’s fair copy, ready, and intended for printing as is shown by the note on the title page which refers to the plates as lithographs. The work was published in the same year (we have located only two copies), and it describes in detail a sophisticated surveyor’s table which, through a mirror system and sliding rules, enables topographical features to be directly plotted and reduced or enlarged to any desired scale. This ingenious device, was available for purchase from Dobner himself, and indeed he subsequently patented his invention (a photo-copy of the abridgement is included with the work), and which was duly recorded in the 1844 ‘Sammlung der Gesetze für das Erzherzogthum Oesterreich unter der Ens’ (Collections of laws for the Archduchy of Austria)’ (Vol. 53, pp. 460-461). According to the patent specification, the instrument was designed for copying, enlarging or reducing maps, plans or charts, with greater accuracy than with the use of a pantograph, and would enable the user to produce a permanent record of a surveyed area, and can be used without having to puncture existing maps with a compass. A contemporary review in the Oekonomische Neuigkeiten und Verhandlungen, whilst deploring the clunkiness of the author’s writing style, which he attributes to Dobner’s Hungarian origin, nevertheless recommends the benefits of the invention.
In his preface, Dobner cites the work of Georg Winckler of Mariabrunn, who in 1809 devised and publicised his ‘Spiegel-lineals’ instrument, and which may well have inspired Dobner to create his own direct plotting topographical instrument, with the aim of reducing the need for manual drawing and calculation when surveying.
The work is dedicated to Anton Karl, Count Pallfy von Erdol (1793-1879), a member of a notable Austro-Hungarian family, with estates at Malaczka. Dobner describes himself on the title page as an ‘Engineer’, and indeed the ‘Sammlung’ notes that Dobner, a noble from ‘Dettendorf und Rantenhof’ was engineer to the Pallfy family. We have been able to find little further biographical information about him, but it seems possible that he was born János Dobner de Rantenhof et Dettendorf in Győr in Hungary 1807, only 70 miles from Malaczka.
Bibliography: OCLC locates only one copy at Frankfurt at the Johann Christian Senckenberg University Library, with KVK locating one further copy at the Austrian National Library (available online).