Like yesterday’s featured book, today’s arrived at MIT as part of the Vail Collection just five years after it was published. But while our 1906 selection was a popularized account of the “wonders of electricity,” Häntzschel’s book provides a much more technical review of everything anyone might want to know about the applications of electricity. For the visual learners among his audience – in case countless drawings, plans, and photographs aren’t enough – the author has provided two colored diagrams with movable parts, one of an electric automobile motor and another of a steam turbine. The reader can fold back flaps and examine the inner workings of each machine.
While our selections for 1906 and 1907 may differ in genre and audience, they do have in common their original decorated cloth bindings. The Vail Collection is replete with examples of illustrated publisher’s bindings from this period. When today’s title is juxtaposed with these three other German books on electricity that were published between 1895 and 1906, you’ll notice a few similarities among their decorative motifs. Electrical apparatus feature prominently, for example. The lettering is stylized, and the designs occupy the entirety of their covers. These bindings, while clearly expressing the subject of the texts they contain, are also designed to dazzle and sell.