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FRANKFURT AND LEIPZIG BOOK-FAIR CATALOGUES

Book-trade catalogues, generally referred to as book fair catalogues, offer a unique overview of German – and in many respects European – book production over a period of nearly 300 years (1594-1860). This form of information, originally intended for the contemporary book trade, today forms an important and comprehensive historical bibliography of the period.

Developed in the 16th century, the book fair catalogues for the Spring or Easter and Autumn or Michaelmas Fairs provided the widest possible overview of the books on offer during this period. Only when other sources of information began to take their place did they cease publication in 1860.

The digitisation is based on the microfilming of the book fair catalogues from 1594 onwards. To bring the various and astonishingly scattered holdings of different libraries together and create and almost complete run was a major editorial achievement. There were only a few years during the Thirty Years’ War when no catalogues are known to have appeared.

We are grateful that all the major German libraries were involved in this project. This enabled us to create a comprehensive primary source for the history of scholarship, of literature, of publishing and of the intellectual development of central Europe. During the course of such a long period the internal structure and subject division of the catalogues changed. Initially they were based on the traditional university faculties, then, after the publication was taken over by the publisher Philipp Erasmus Reich and the publishing house of Weidmann in 1759 aspects more strictly geared towards the book trade were added. A new alphabetical order made the catalogues more practically useful in the everyday work of the bookseller. The geographical coverage was also increased to cover the developing European literary scene. There was also a section for forthcoming books which offers an interesting insight into projects which would otherwise be untraceable.

This digital version of the microfiche edition represents a unique primary source for the intellectual and scholarly history of continental Europe.