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James Gall

1784 - 1874

Publisher, inventor of a system of print for the blind and a notable map projection. Gall established himself as a partner in a printing business based in Old Assembly Close in Edinburgh. His firm specialised in publishing religious texts but Gall also maintained a strong interest in education. While visiting Paris in 1825, Gall saw examples of books for the blind and decided to design a script which could be used by blind and sighted people alike. He introduced his Gall Type in 1827, which he promoted as being more condensed than the Paris script. This was based on an angular rendering of the Roman alphabet and his first book, The Gospel of St. John, was published in 1834. Gall was a founder of the Edinburgh Blind Asylum and it adopted his system, as well as institutions in Glasgow and London.

In 1850, he was appointed Master of the Merchant Company, a Guild originally established to protect trade in Edinburgh but which came to have an important role in education. Gall was also a Burgess and lived at Myrtle Bank in the Trinity district of the city.

Gall's son, also James Gall (1808-95), left the publishing business to pursue a religious calling but was also to define a notable series of map projections. One of these projections was re-invented by German Arno Peters in 1967. The Gall-Peters projection is promoted by UNESCO as it reduces the distortion within typical map projections that promotes the developed world at the expense of equatorial countries. Gall's business was continued by his son-in-law Robert Inglis, who had joined the firm in 1847.

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