Heck Encyclopedia, 1851

This illustration is taken from the fencing section of the Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art. It is often sold as a print without the text. The AHF has chosen to feature this illustration with the text, separating each individual image, and adding the relevant description for the convenience of the reader.

This is the English version of the German Bilder Atlas zum Conversations-Lexicon, which was very popular in the mid-nineteenth centuryProfessor of natural sciences, Spencer R. Baird along with his associates translated this German Encyclopedia for the American audience.  He notes that some of the articles, owing to changes over time, omissions or other considerations, have been edited to represent the present state of science and the interests of the American public. It includes the 500 engravings, taken from the original steel plates.

This encyclopedia was selected at the time to be translated because of the detailed nature of the images, the completeness of the content, and the systematic grouping of distinct treatises. 

“The work thus becomes, as it were, a series of text-books, capable of being used as such, and to which recourse may be had for all the general information required on a given subject” (Baird).

The section on fencing found under Military Sciences was translated by Major C. H. Larned, U.S. Army. The distinct division of cut and thrust, or as the French called it, Pointe et Contre-pointe reflects the approach to the subject in the nineteenth century. Interestingly for us the modern reader, we recognize that the treatment of this subject is specific to the German perspective of fencing at the time. Therefore this translation in this popular encyclopedia gives us a window into an American mid-nineteenth century perception of fencing.

Click on an image below to open the gallery with the accompanying text

Heck, Johann Georg, Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art, Vol. III, New York, 1851

Translated from the German, with additions and edited by Spencer R. Baird, A.M., M.D., professor of natural sciences in Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.

Original German Document:

Brockhaus, F. A., Bilder-Atlas zum Conversations-Lexicon. Ikonographische Encyklopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste. Edited by J. G. Heck, Leipzig, 1849-1851

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