Taxing the Forests

Manuscript on paper entitled “Braunschweigisches Taxations-System der Forsten. Idealisch entworfen von Friedrich Otto, Forstaufseher am Harz.”

One folding hand-colored plan. 22 leaves (final leaf a blank). Small folio (323 x 210 mm.), self-bound. “Braunlage: January 1818.”

The new science of forestry management which developed in 18th- and early 19th-century Germany enabled tax authorities to make estimations of wood mass as a mathematical quantity. This gave governmental authorities the ability to accurately calculate and assess taxes.

This manuscript is an idealized demonstration of how to calculate forestry taxes. The author, Siegmund Friedrich Otto (1751-1826), had worked earlier as a forestry tax assessor in the Göttingen forestry department and in the Oldenburg forests (see Eilert Tantzen, Lebensbilder leitenden Forstbeamten Oldenburgs [Hannover 1962], pp. 72-88).

In the author’s Preface (the second leaf of our manuscript), Otto explains that his essay is based on a method already developed by the forestry commissioner von den Brinken in 1816. Julius von den Brinken (1789-1846), director of the taxation commission, was instrumental in drafting the Brunswick forestry regulations in the early 19th century, and later also played a large part in formulating the forestry regulations of Poland and Russia. Our manuscript was prepared in Braunlage, a town in the Harz forest and mountain range.

The attractive plate depicts an idealized forest. The text contains a description, in a series of steps, of how to mathematically analyze, in charts and formulae, the value of the forest and the appropriate taxes.

In fine condition.

❧ See Lowood, “The Calculating Forester: Quantification, Cameral Science, and the Emergence of Scientific Forestry Management in Germany” in The Quantifying Spirit in the 18th Century (ed. by Tore Frängsmyr, J.L. Heilbron, & R.E. Rider), pp. 315-42.

Price: $2,750.00

Item ID: 6527