The First Estonian ABC Book Cover Image

Esimene eestikeelne aabits
The First Estonian ABC Book

Author(s): Aivar Põldvee
Subject(s): Local History / Microhistory, 17th Century
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: ABC books; Estonian;

Summary/Abstract: The oldest survived estonian ABC book dates from 1694, but there were earlier ones. According to literature the history of estonian ABC books began either in 1575 or 1641. A critical examination of the relevant documents and a consideration of the historical context give no proof that the ABC book mentioned in 1575 was in estonian; rather, it was probably in German or latin. The price (27 skillings) of the book suggests that „ein brederen A b c bock” was a primer rather than a hornbook. in 1641 Joachim Jhering, the bishop of estland, who was of Swedish origin, commissioned an estonian-language ABC book, the cathechism part of which was taken from the church manual written by Heinrich Stahl (1632). According to the mentions of the so-called Jhering’s ABC book in synod materials, visitation protocols etc. the book was first used mainly for reading to people at church or manor house. Most likely the ABC book of 1641 was a typical one signature booklet (8º, 16 pp.) like the ones printed in the neighbouring countries, and it resembled the German, latin and Swedish ABC books printed in Tallinn. Quite possibly the earliest survived Swedish ABC book printed in Tallinn in 1769 is a reprint of the one from Jhering’s time. The same possibility should be considered for the estonian ABC books of the 18th and 19th centuries.

  • Issue Year: LIV/2011
  • Issue No: 08-09
  • Page Range: 588-599
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Estonian