Thursday, March 27, 2014

1878 German-language book on the Italian Renaissance

This beat-up but still handsome old tome was published in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1878 — a year before the birth of Albert Einstein.

The German title is Geschichte der Renaissance in Italien, which translates to "History of the Renaissance in Italy." The book was originally written by Switzerland's Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897) and published in 1867. It is considered one of the classics of Italian Renaissance history.

The book is profusely illustrated, which is good, because I don't know much German beyond fräulein (which, to my surprise, has apparently been phased out of regular German usage during my lifetime).

One of the reasons I wanted to write about this book is the bookplate on the inside front cover. It is slightly more than 2½ inches wide. And it indicates that this volume was once No. 400 in the library of Hugo Hölzel.

I have found some evidence that Hölzel was connected to the bookselling business, so I don't know whether this volume was part of his personal library or whether this bookplate was actually more of a bookseller's label.

According to a translated version of a page on, there was an Eduard Hölzel who was born in 1817. Early in life, he joined Borrosch & André in Prague as a bookstore apprentice and later, in 1844, opened his own bookstore in Olomouc (a city in the country of Bohemia, which we now know as the Czech Republic).

Eduard Hölzel also became a key figure in the publishing industry.

According to a translated version of the Grosser Kozenn-Atlas, Hugo Hölzel (1852-1895) was Eduard's second son and took over the family business when eldest son Adolf Hölzel embarked upon a career as an artist.

The Hölzel publishing house that Eduard founded is still around. It is based in Vienna, Austria, and focuses on textbooks and atlases. Here are some more facts about the "family business," from a translated version of Hölzel's history page:

  • After Eduard Hölzel had opened a number of branch bookstores in Moravia, in 1861 he moved the focus of his work to Vienna, where he founded an Institute of Geography and a publishing house that offered reinforced material for geographic education in schools.
  • Eduard Hölzel's son Hugo continued the geographic and scientific publisher's tradition and published excellent travel works like Holidays in Africa and Asian Coasts and Princely Courts (or From Newastrand to Samarkand).
  • Under Hugo Hölzel, the company also published a notable wall map of the Alps.
  • The publisher Ed. Hölzel is now part of P&V Holding and has about 20 employees.

Here is the Hugo Hölzel from the inside front cover of Geschichte der Renaissance in Italien.

And here are a trio of illustrations from the book.

Fig. 190. Chorstuhl aus S. Maria dell' organo zu Verona (Ohne die decke.)
(a choir stall)

Fig. 197. Truhe aus Siena.
("Signs of Siena")

Fig. 187. Fahnen-oder Fackelhalter zu Siena
(a flag or torch holder)

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