Rest in peace, Adolph Asher

Written by admin on . Posted in Raider of the Lost Library

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.

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