‘A remarkable collection of English books’

Posted on 11th February 2020 by simonbeattie

Also from Anglo-German Cultural Relations: a fine etching by Georg Balthasar Probst of Augsburg, one of the leading producers of perspective views in Europe, depicting the library at the University of Göttingen.

[GÖTTINGEN.]  Bibliotheca Büloviana Academiæ, Georgiæ Augustæ donata Göttingæ …  [Augsburg, Georg Balthasar Probst, 1760/70s.]

The image was copied from one of the plates by Georg Daniel Heumann in the Wahre Abbildung der königl. Große Britan. und Churfürstl. Braunschw. Lüneb. Stadt Göttingen (1747), and was intended to be viewed in a Guckkasten, a ‘portative Camera Obscura’ (Ebers, New and complete Dictionary, 1796).

‘The University of Göttingen was founded by George II, King of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover, in 1734 and opened in 1737.  Its library, built up on a then revolutionary plan, has long been recognised as the archetype of the modern research library.  It was intended to make available to professors and students the most significant works in each of the contemporary disciplines and, in addition, to assemble “research material” deemed of interest to scholars.  The Bibliotheca Georgiae Augustae grew rapidly and, by the turn of the nineteenth century, was one of the leading European libraries …

‘Hanover’s dynastic connection with Great Britain after 1714 not only caused an extraordinary interest in everything English, it also enabled Göttingen’s librarians to accumulate, within the relatively short period from 1740 to 1800, a remarkable collection of English books, ranging from incunables to contemporary literary, scholarly and scientific works.  Many of them are rare and a surprising number even unique.  These books were acquired from many sources, but most of the purchases, antiquarian and modern, were made in England … [creating] not only one of the largest repositories of early English books outside the English-speaking world, [but] an attempt, made in the eighteenth century when the spread of English culture was beginning, to assemble as systematically as possible all works deemed important as products of this culture’ (Catalogue of English Books printed before 1801 held by the University Library at Göttingen, 1987, pp. [xi]–xii).

For more, stay tuned for the PDF version of Anglo-German Cultural Relations, available soon.

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