You've never seen the ABCs look this bizarre and wonderful

These incredible pictorial alphabet designs look like artistic madness, but they were actually used historically as mnemonic devices to help people memorize their letters. If you are a font fiend, or simply love weird imagery, you must check out these demented illustrations of the ABCs.

A Human Alphabet, by Jo. Theodor and Jo. Israel De Bry in Frankfurt, 1596

The Comical Hotch Potch, or The Alphabet turn'd Posture-Master, 1782

The Man of Letters or Pierrot's Alphabet (1794)

Alfabeto Pittorico, by Antonio Basoli, 1839

(via LiveInternet)

An ornamental Italian alphabet, 1839

A Was An Archer, or a New Amusing Alphabet for Children, 1844

Occupational Alphabet, c. 1850

The Royal Picture Alphabet, 1854

The Funny Alphabet, 1850s

The Landscape Alphabet, printed by Charles Joseph Hullmandel, made between 1818 and 1860

(via British Museum)

Kantner's Illustrated Book of Objects and Self-Educator in German and English, 1879

Baseball ABC, c. 1885

A Fashionable Melange of English Words (Ryūkō eigo zukushi), a Japanese woodcut by Kamekichi Tsunajima, 1887