Skip to main content
Biomedicine in museums

Malling-Hansen's Braille writing ball on display

A very special artefact from Medical Museion’s collections in on display in a new exhibition at the Copenhagen Post and Tele Museum, celebrating the centennial of the Danish Association for the Blind.

The insect compund eye looking thing is actually a Braille version of the writing ball patented by Rasmus Malling-Hansen in 1870.

Selling well in Europe (Remington was the favourite typewriting machine in the US), it received prizes at a number of international exhibitions, including the World Exhibitions in Vienna in 1873 and Paris in 1878.

The most famous owner of a Malling-Hansen writing ball was in fact Friedrich Nietzsche, who got one in 1882, but apparently didn’t use it much. (More about the writing ball on the Malling-Hansen Society website.)

Malling-Hansen’s Braille writing ball is part of a collection of more than 4,500 material artefacts (and a number of braille-typed books) associated with the history of blind therapy and training that was acquired by Medical Museion last year when the Danish Museum of Blind History, one of the largest of its kind, was closed down.

One of our conservators, Charlotte Vikkelsø Hansen, has cleaned the writing ball thoroughly before sending it over to our colleagues in the Post and Tele Museum:


The physical writing ball can be seen here from 8 June until 30 November.

(See also the earlier post about Jan Eric Olséns research project ‘Vision and Touch: A Material History of the World of Blindness’).

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

More posts by Thomas Söderqvist