Rest in peace, Adolph Asher

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Back again at the British Library, that wonderful place. During the last few weeks, I have not only identified books sold to the British Library during the Tieck auction – I have also studied the letters that Adolph Asher, the auctioneer, sent to British Library mastermind Antonio Panizzi. These letters may be found in the so-called “Panizzi Papers” in the Corporate Archives of the BL – letters, invoices, committee minutes, etc. The “Panizzi Papers” cover the time period from Feb 18th, 1836 until Dec 8th, 1855 (DH1/1-15). From the early 1840s until his death, Asher sent more than 200 letters to Panizzi. Their friendship has been described in this wonderful paper by David Paisey.

The corporate archive of the BL has been most helpful – I have yet to find a department of the British Library that is not top-notch in all regards.

Today, I have reached September 1853 and thus the end of Adolph Asher’s life. Through years of close collaboration – and through my last few weeks – his letters have permeated Panizzi’s correspondence and, in a way, my existence. Today, I was keenly aware that any one of those neat, friendly, erudite, liberal and chatty letters might be the last he had sent to London; and that I would have to identify the letter of his associate Albert Cohn (who compiled the Tieck auction catalogue) bearing the news of his untimely death.

British Library Stamp Guide

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Once again, I am at the British Library. Right at this moment, I have this beauty on my desk: “Exemplario. Libro llamado exēplario: enel q̃l se contiene muy buena dotrina y graues sentēcias debaxo de gracious fabulas: nueuamēte corregido.” It was printed by Juan Crōberger in Sevilla in 1534. It is number 2449 in the Bibliotheca Tieckiana. Fortunately, the British Library (vivat, crescat, floreat) has supplied a scan – have a look!

It’s quite a treat – but then again, it shows the problems that go along with scans. It does not contain the verso side of page LX, which is blank but for the British Library stamp that records the accession date of the book – 5:1:50 (as in January 5th, 1850.) These stamps are very important markers, especially in the British Library. Various stamps refer to different acquisition periods or even the exact date. Have a look at this excellent blog entry: A Guide to British Library Book Stamps.

Ludwig Tieck’s Library: A History

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The investigation of poets’ libraries has already formed its own tradition; in the German-speaking countries, the bibliography by Roland Folter (1975) is considered authoritative. Scholars’ libraries have also been the focus of research. At the end of his life, Ludwig Tieck was one of the most famous bibliophiles of the 19th century which is the more remarkable as he neither inherited a book collection nor possessed a fortune of any importance.

Raider of the Lost Library – The Project

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Since October 2014, I have been working as a scientist for the FWF-funded project “Ludwig Tieck’s Library. Anatomy of a Romantic and Comparatist Book Collection”.

What do we actually do? We hunt down Ludwig Tieck’s library that was auctioned in 1849/1850.

So far it’s not quite clear why Ludwig Tieck decided to sell his library – to sell it again, that is: For when Ludwig Tieck sold it to Berlin bookseller and auctioneer Adolf Asher, he conveniently forgot to mention that he had already sold it to publisher Heinrich Brockhaus. Our search for the books will lead us to libraries in Austria, England, Germany, Poland, and Russia – and, maybe, many more.