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Rare Books

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Curator of Rare Books

Listed below are some special collections in this field. See also entries for GOERTZ, GOETHE, and MANN as well as the INDEX to this Guide.

Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Germanic Collection

"Through the generosity of Carl Otto v. Kienbusch '06, the Library has established the Kretzschmar v. Kienbusch Germanic Collection, the nucleus of which was obtained by the purchase of the entire stock of the late Theo Feldman, ...." [Victor Lange, "The Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Germanic Collection" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XIX, 1 (Autumn, 1957) p. 56]. According to the New York Times, for March 5, 1957, Theo Feldman "of 609 West 114th Street [was] a book dealer ... and specialist in rare books and autographs in the field of foreign literature. [He] died ... at his home after a brief illness .., [at] 66 years old."

There are many volumes in this collection, alone, which supplements the Germanic collection in the general collections at Princeton. A rewarding collection in the fields of cultural history, political science, music, and fine arts and, of course, literature. Numerous first editions of the 1920's and 1930's, especially the major figures of expressionist poetry and drama, of the George group, of the Viennese and Prague writers, and of the theater from Brahm and Reinhardt to Piscator.

Naturalism: represented by a great number of plays, fiction from the turn of the century and dramaturgy and stagecraft of the 1890s.

Austria: popular Viennese playwrights of the early 19th century (Gewey, A. Von Schaden, V. Puchler, C.C. Martin.) Also literature dealing with the chief actors and producers in Vienna and Berlin between 1850 and 1900.

Important first editions for almost all writers of the romantic period. Also a considerable group of almanacs, anthologies, and journals of the Goethe period.

The collection includes an unusually extensive body of 17th-century poets: Moscherosch, Fleming, Gryphius, Hoffmannswaldau, Picander, and Christian Gunther in notable editions.

For particulars refer to: Victor Lange, "The Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Germanic Collection" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XIX, 1 (Autumn, 1957) pp. 56-58 [full text] .

Luther Collection

In 1970, 300 volumes, including first and other early editions by Luther, Erasmus, Melancthon and other leading figures of the period of the Reformation, were presented to the Library by Bernhard K. Schaefer '20. See details under LUTHER in this Guide.

Blau Memorial Collection

"The most notable addition to the Library during the year resulted from the purchase of the collection of Dr. Alfred Weiske [of Leipzig], a German bibliophile. For many years he collected first editions and editions deluxe of all the important literary figures of the last half-century, as well as of many of those of secondary rank. He subscribed for a large number of literary periodicals, including many ephemeral in character issued by the expressionists and dadaists. He was a member of all the important printing clubs and he purchased all of the books printed by many of the private presses. He was an extensive buyer of books on modern German art. I very much doubt if in any public institution in the world, possibly excepting the Deutsche Bücherei, there is so rich a collection in this particular field.
     When the opportunity to purchase the library came to us, it seemed so important to the Germanic section that they agreed to devote the entire income from the Class of 1891 fund during ten years to a partial amortization of the special appropriation very generously made by the Board for this purpose.
     On the recommendation of the Germanic section, this collection is to be called the Blau Memorial Collection, in honor of the late Professor Max Blau. " -- James Thayer Gerould in his annual report as librarian for 1923-24, page 3-4

"The results of [Weiske's collecting] appear in a catalogue of 621 closely typewritten leaves representing over 20,000 volumes, and as many as two or three thousand authors. The extraordinary value of the collection lies in its comprehensiveness and comparative completeness. It contains, for example, poems and dramas and novels and essays by all the well known contemporary German authors: Gerhart Hauptmann (46 titles), Sudermann (25), Schnitzler (30), Hermann Bahr (66), Bierbaum (32), Schlaf (50), Wasserman (19), Wedekind (43), Ricarda Huch (26), Thomas Mann (22), Hesse (30), Georg Hirschfeld (39), Handel-Mazzetti (23), Walter Hasenclever (12). Among these are first editions which have already become rare: Hauptmann's Und Pippa Tanzt, and Der Apostel and Bahnwärter Thiel, Sudermann's Geschwister, and Das Glück im Winkel, and Schnitzler's Die Hirtenflöte" -- Prof. George M. Priest, Princeton Class of 1894. "A Valuable Collection of German Books" Princeton Alumni Weekly, February 20, 1924, p. 401.

The Weiske collection was purchased in 1924 for about $13,000 by a special appropriation of the Board of Trustees to be a memorial to Dr. Max Blau, Professor of German, who died on November 23, 1923. The purchase was announced in the New York Times on April 20, 1924.

In the University Archives at Mudd Library, there is a separate accession book for this collection. It covers accession numbers 540,000 to 555,549 and greatly details the particular contents of the collection. Full citation for the volume is AC123, Princeton University Library Records, Series 5: Catalogues and Technical Records, Subseries 5B, Early Catalogues, Shelflists, and Accession Books, Accession Books, Volume Accession Book 96, Weike Collection. Also available is a listing titled The Blau Memorial Collection: originally collected by Dr. Alfred Weiske. This is a typewritten listing of 621 leaves evidently compiled by Alfred Weiske himself. A PDF of this catalouge is availalble at this link.

For bindings in the Blau Collection, see Binders File under the individual names of various German binders. Virtually all books specially bound have imprint dates from 1890-1920.

Priebsch-Closs Collection

Purchased in May, 1969 from Traugott, the collection consists of 273 titles published in German or in Germany during the 16th century. All have been catalogued. See the Collections File for a checklist of the collection; list is also available as a color, 145 MB PDF file. The collection is named after Robert Priebsch (1866-1935), Professor of German in the University of London, and his son-in-law August Closs (1898-1990), Professor of German at the University of Bristol, England. Evidently 'Traugott' refers to Elizabeth Closs Traugott, August Closs's daughter, however this fact needs to be confirmed by further searching in Library records.


Princeton has 45 political Tarnschriften in a scrapbook inscribed: "To Professor H. [i.e. Hyman?] Levy with sincere thanks for much help. The German Freedom Station [Deutscher Freiheitssender] and the Committee of Action [Aktionsausschuss Deutscher Oppositioneller] (Heinrich Mann) November 7, 1939." It is unknown if it was Professor Levy who gave Mann's scrapbook to Princeton, but apparently the scrapbook entered the collections within the last forty years. The scrapbook was catalogued in 2005. [Call number (Ex) Oversize 2005-0251Q]. All 45 pieces are anti-Nazi propaganda disguised as ordinary ephemeral publications. The dated ones are all from 1938 or 1939. They include a promotional brochure for a health resort, a copy of Hitler's most recent birthday speech, an envelope of canceled postage stamps for beginning collectors, an instructional leaflet from the Reichsluftschutzbund on the correct use of a gas mask, an envelope of Agfa photographic paper, and a package of 10 or 20 grams of Lyons' Tea containing, besides the loose tea, a 10-cm. high, 31-page anthology of anti-Nazi articles by Heinrich Mann, Thomas Mann, and seven other members of the resistance. One interesting piece, which masquerades as a brochure on German Olympic gymnasts, is boldly signed on p. 18: "Sozialistische Arbeiterjugend, Erwin Sander; Kommunistischer Jugendverband, Kurt Kunert; Sozialistischer Jugendverband, Willi Brandt."