I think these are absolutely fantastic, purchased in Maine at an antiques show from from a Virginia based dealer with very fine things, and which I absolutely could not leave behind.
And after much searching, I found their source on the website of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale: they are from Alphabet of Different Nations: For Teaching Children to Read, published by D.W. Kellogg & Co, Hartford, sometime between 1830 and 1842, which is the duration of the time they were in business. They were published as an accordian fold, lithographed and hand-colored booklet (made of six sheets glued together horizontally and folded, accordion-style, to make 26 leaves), no other copy of which I can find out anywhere.
These cards, however, are even more special-- the prints were cut apart from the original publication, mounted on heavy weight card, bordered withgold foil paper adhered around the edges, and hand-painted with glorious color much richer and more elaborate than in the copy of the booklet at Yale. I think it is safe to assume that this is a one of a kind set, perhaps as very special flash cards of sorts for a child. Two are lost (the M and the W) or never were, but miraculously this set of 24 has stayed together, in excellent shape, and I think the combination of the individual portraits and the hand-painting and the gold trim and the whole spectrum of places and characters represented in alphabetic order makes them just truly marvelous.
Each card measures just over 5 1/8" x 3". Lithography and hand-painting on heavy weight card. All are in very good condition, with minor toning and light edge wear, minor and all to the good I think. Gorgeous. Sold as a set of 24.