David Latchman

A Abraham: Producing Both Scientific Instruments and Jewish Books

Many years ago, I bought a small book entitled “Moral and Religious Tales for the Young of the Hebrew Faith” (illustrated). It is a translation by A. Abraham from a French work. The preface is dated Liverpool, May 1846.

Above: A Abraham’s 1846 English translation of a French work for young Jewish students, entitled “Moral and Religious Tales for the Young of the Hebrew Faith” (Image supplied by Prof. D Latchman)

Of course, many works of this type were produced by struggling teachers of Hebrew who hoped to supplement their paltry income by selling a few copies of their books.

Unusually, however, the preface is followed by the statement “Profits…will be appropriated to the cause of education.” Moreover, in another work in my collection by Abraham, entitled “a catechism of religious and moral instruction” (Liverpool 1840), we are told that copies are “to be had of Mr Abraham Lord Street.”

This shows us that far from being an itinerant teacher, our author is identical to Abraham Abraham ‘Optician and mathematical instrument maker of Lord Street Liverpool, who indicates on his trade card (illustrated) that he counted the Duke of Wellington amongst his clients.

Above: A Abraham’s travel card (Image supplied by Prof. D Latchman)

The trade card shows individuals using a surveying instrument and a telescope, and I have examples of both types of these instruments made by Abraham in my collection.

Indeed, the trade card, containing a surveying instrument (illustrated) which is also engraved “Abraham Liverpool”. I am especially proud of the telescope I have which is also labelled ‘Abraham and co Liverpool’ and which still works.

Above: The surveying instrument made and sold by A Abraham (Image supplied by Prof. D Latchman)
Above: A close-up of the metal panels of the instrument, engraved “Abraham Liverpool” (Image supplied by Prof. D Latchman)
Above: A close-up of the telescope produced, as engraved, by “Abraham & Co. Liverpool” (Image supplied by Prof. D Latchman)

So, our author was another example of a committed Jew who made and sold highly complex scientific instruments. He was primarily a successful instrument maker who published his Jewish works to promote Jewish education rather than for monetary profit. As we shall see in my next blog, he was also part of a distinguished Anglo-Jewish family in Liverpool and London.

Above: The author, Professor David Latchman, using the telescope, now in his collection made by A Abraham & Co. (Image supplied by Prof. D Latchman)
About the Author
Professor David Latchman, CBE, is a leading UK academic, author, and philanthropist, and currently holds the position of Vice-Chancellor of Birkbeck University of London, having led the university since 2003. Latchman holds First-class Honours in Natural Sciences, a MA, and a PhD, and has completed a three-year post-doctoral fellowship at Imperial College London. He also has a DSc (higher doctorate) from the University of London.