Wooden fraction for the Blinds, teaching aid

Author: Martin Kunz, Illzach, France

The year of the first fractions production: 1890

Dimensions: 25,5 x 27 cm, 11 rows

Weight: 1,5 kg

Material: wood

Donor: Blind Museum in Levoča

Wooden fractions – rollers placed in the eleven rows from a whole to eleven eleventh.

Martin Kunz was a founder of scientific typhlocartography and typhlotechnique in Europe. He created several tens tactile paper geographical maps, animal pictures and pictures of physical devices for the blind.

He was born on 27 December 1847.

After passing schools he became a teacher and later on the director of Institute for Education of the Blind in Illzach where he had been working for 37 years.

Kunz was an expert in creating geographical maps which were used by blind pupils also in Czech and Slovak institutions till the 40s of the 20th century.

Firstly, he produced map matrices. At the beginning he made contour ones but because they were not suitable, he did relief paper ones.

Brief summary of techniques tried by Kunz:

Wrought copper foil on a copper mat. A wet paper was placed between these two metal boards and sqeezed. The first map produced by this technology was the map of Spain.

The first technique was not convenient for high mountains, so he tried to make plaster matrices from whose he took casts using a balance press. He made the maps of Alsace-Lorraine and of Italy by this technique.

He produced also matrices from pearwood that he shaped as a woodcarver (the map of Italy).

He completed wooden matrices with rubber ones to soften some roughness.

He firmed up sags on the rubber matrices.

He made also wrought metal matrices.

He produced the last matrices from more materials. A wooden board served as a mat. Rivers were made by wires pressed into the carved grooves, nail heads were used for marking borders, the towns were indicated by fifferent size studs, mountains were moulded from putty, sea was depicted by dense grooves under the ground level. Valleys were carved by a wood chisel. The matrices were completed by spirit varnish.

Kunz created also several Math teaching aids, the best known was wooden fractions. M. Kunz died in 1923.