CUADERNO LITOGRAFIADO PARA FACILITAR LA LECTURA EN LAS ESCUELAS DE INTRUCCION PRIMARIA. Dedicado a1 S. M. El Rey... [n.p but Spain, presumed Madrid, Alonso lithographer.] [n.d. but dated in ms and gilt
1852.]. 8vo, p. [iv], 52,  imprimatur dated August 1851; in lithograph throughout; somewhat browned throughout due to paper quality, with some foxing and soiling, faint dampstain affecting lower margins, and with a few sporadic ink stains; in a contemporary prize binding in full sheepskin, spine decorated in gilt, and ruled and floral gilt border, ‘Premio. 1852’ in gilt on upper cover, inner hinges starting but holding firm, spine, covers and extremities all somewhat scuffed, rubbed and lightly worn; hand-written presentation inscription to Dresco Riccardo on front free endpaper; still a good copy of an ephemeral work. Seemingly an early edition of this educational work for primary school children, printed entirely in lithograph, and the work of the General Inspector of Primary education, Castor Araujo y Alcalde. In effect a printed ‘handwritten’ book, this reading, writing and spelling primer, reproduces in lithograph 15 letters or lessons penned in differing calligraphic hands, with a further four ‘Cartas sobre ortografia’. The letters appear to be arranged from the easiest to most difficult hand to read, and thus also works as a text-book of paleography and the art of deciphering handwriting and manuscripts. The final imprimatur is dated August 1851. The work was to prove popular and went through nearly 30 editions over the next 60 years. All editions appear scarce, no doubt as a result of the work being subject to much use and rough handling, so to find a copy in a presentation binding is of additional appeal.
During the 19th century various attempts were made to commercially reproduce works originally written out by hand in facsimiles, with two methods emerging with some success and which developed on from lithography: anastatic printing and photozincography - the early precursors to photocopies. The first lithographic rotary printing press was invented in 1843, and so this would appear to be a relatively early example of an whole text printed in lithography. The online essay by Antônio ugusto Gomes Batista, ‘Paleógrafos ou Livros de Leitura Manuscrita’, suggests that during the 19th century a number of countries, including Brazil and Portugal, published similar lithograph ‘manuscript reading books’, and that they were widely used in elementary instruction, being cheap to publish and produce.
Bibliography: Diccionario Biográfico Internacional de Escritores Y artistas del siglo XIX, p. 94; OCLC locates copies of a 6th edition (dated 1851) at Florida and the National Library of Spain though with a different pagination; a number of different editions located at the Spanish National Library, some issues without imprint, and others citing different publishers.