An 18th-Century Book Hunter’s Diary

Merkwürdige Reisen durch Niedersachsen, Holland und Engelland.

Engraved frontis. port., engraved vignette on first title, & 51 plates (50 are folding). 8 p.l. (incl. frontis. port.), clxxxvi, 544 pp.; 1 p.l., 604 pp.; 6 p.l. (incl. frontis. plate), 756, [36] pp. Three vols. Thick 8vo, cont. half-vellum & speckled boards. Ulm & Memmingen [Vol. I]; Ulm [Vols. II & III]: Gaum, 1753-53-54.

First edition of this renowned account of Uffenbach’s book-collecting travels through Saxony, Belgium, Holland, and England. Uffenbach (1683-1734), was a member of a rich and famous noble family and studied at Strasbourg and Halle, where he developed his enthusiasm for collecting books and manuscripts. He constantly patronized the libraries and bookshops of Halle and read all the learned journals. With a large budget, he conceived a desire to form an encyclopedic library covering all fields of knowledge (save for the sciences, which he left to his brother, Johann Friedrich Armand). His book-collecting adventures in England, the Low Countries, and northern Germany during the years 1709-11 are delightfully recorded in the present diary.

“Uffenbach is a particularly happy illustration because writers on early eighteenth-century social history have already utilized his reminiscences of travels in pursuit of books. In 1710 Uffenbach visited London, Cambridge, and Oxford. In London he saw the sights, the libraries, and the bookshops, and in the university towns he spent long hours in the libraries. His diary, full of acute observations of men, manners, places, and books, was published twenty years after his death…From this journey he brought home four thousand books, or, in the final count, one-third of his library at Frankfurt am Main.”–Taylor, Book Catalogues, p. 165.

We find in this travel diary much on other subjects such as museums, scientific instruments including machines and automatons, technological developments, etc. There is also much on Uffenbach’s own library.

Uffenbach was able to build one of the greatest collections of books and manuscripts formed in the 18th century; this magnificent and enormous library amounted to more than 40,000 titles in 12,000 volumes.

This travel diary was edited by Johann Georg Schelhorn, who has provided a long biographical account of Uffenbach in the preliminary leaves of Vol. I.

Fine set and rare; I have been looking for a fine set for many years.

❧ A.D.B., 39, pp. 135-37. Buzas, Deutsche Bibliotheksgeschichte der Neuzeit (1500-1800), pp. 85, 92, 101, 122, & 168. Robson-Scott, German Travellers in England 1400-1800, pp. 105-06–”The most interesting of the learned German travellers to England in the later Stuart period was Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach (1683-1734), who visited this country in the summer of 1710…[It is] the most reliable as well as the most detailed of all the travel accounts of Britain with which we have so far dealt.” Taylor, Book Catalogues, pp. 165-68.

Price: $7,500.00

Item ID: 6850