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Business Lexicon
Österreichisches Geschäften-Lexikon · 1816

Österreichisches Geschäften-Lexikon (Austrian business lexicon) was a handbook — in some respects even a vademecum — published in 1793 in Wien (Vienna, Austria) by Johann Christoph von Kessler and later improved by Professor Martin Span. It contains examples and guidelines for written correspondence, and even has instructions on how to use encryption for secret messages.

The book measures 215 x 135 x 35 mm and weights 450 gr. It has a hard cover, as shown in the image on the right, and was intended as a handbook for small and medium size business, with guidelines on formal correspondence.

It contains examples of journals, condolence letters, congratulations, requests, gravamem, offerings, business agreements, shipping lists, invoices, and all kinds of tables, such as for the conversion of the different weight standard used by various cities and neighbouring countries. At the time, such things wer far from standardised.
  
Österreichisches Geschäften-Lexikon (1816)

The book was originally published by business man Johann Christoph von Kessler in 1793 [1]. According to the title page, the version shown here is the fourth edition that had been edited and improved in 1815 by Professor Martin Span 1 in order to bring it in line with the new Civil Code. The title page also shows that this is part one of (probably) two parts, covering the letters A - K.

Interestingly, the letter C includes an entry for Chiffer (Cipher). Starting at the bottom of page 179, more than six pages are dedicated to explaining the need to keep the contents of a (financial) transaction secret, and giving useful instructions on how this can be done best.

The instructions on page 184 are complemented by a cipher table that is available as a fold-out in the appendix section of the book. It consists of a 26 x 26 matrix, in which each row and column contains the 26 letters of the alphabet, shifted by one position, as shown in the image below.
  
Cipher instructions

It is currently unknown whether the cipher instructions were present in the original version of 1793, or whether they had been added by Professor Martin Span in 1815. We are assuming for now, that it first appeared in the fourth edition of 1816. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see that apparently there was a need and the awareness to keep certain aspects of a business transaction secret — and hidden from the competition — as early as 1816, and possibly even 1793.

  1. By this time the original writer – Johann Christoph von Kessler – had already died. Martin Span improved the text, discarded parts that were obsolete and added new sections. The 4th edition was published in 1816.

Österreichisches Geschäften-Lexikon (1816) Title page Example page (with cipher instructions at the bottom right Cipher instructions Fold-out cipher table Fold-out cipher table Cipher table Cipher table (available as an appendix)
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Österreichisches Geschäften-Lexikon (1816)
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Title page
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Example page (with cipher instructions at the bottom right
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Cipher instructions
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Fold-out cipher table
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Fold-out cipher table
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Cipher table
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Cipher table (available as an appendix)

Fold-out cipher table

References
  1. Bayrische Staatsbibliothek, Österreichisches Geschäften-Lexikon (1793)
    Retrieved July 2017.
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Sunday 09 July 2017. Last changed: Sunday, 09 July 2017 - 08:29 CET.
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