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Todd-Bowden Collection of Tauchnitz Editions

The Todd-Bowden Collection of Tauchnitz editions was acquired in 1992, with the aid of the German KulturStiftung der Länder and the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Comprising some 6,700 volumes - together with sale catalogues, leaflets, and other advertising material - it is one of the most important collections devoted to the work of this influential publisher outside his native Germany.

History and scope of the Collection

Christian Bernhard Tauchnitz (1816-1895) was only 25 years old when he began to publish - in Leipzig, Germany - the series of literary works in English known as the 'Collection of British and American Authors'. He died in 1895, but his enterprise continued to flourish until 1943, by which time almost 5,800 titles by 800 authors had been included. In the early 1840s, before Britain's first international copyright agreement with Prussia, he was remarkable for offering to pay for the exclusive right to reprint English books for sale on the continent of Europe; over the years inclusion in the series was increasingly prized as a mark of success, and authors such as Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) became his close friends. Many Tauchnitz editions are of potential textual significance, having been set from proofs, advance sheets, or corrected editions, or variously adapted to suit the series format.

An important feature of the collection is the impressive array of reissues and re-impressions of individual titles, often published over a very long period. Bound in wrappers (often carrying advertisements or booksellers' labels), publisher's cloth, or contemporary bindings, the volumes provide a great deal of valuable information about the Tauchnitz business and about book production and design during the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. Further details about the firm - which had an immense talent for self-promotion - can be found in the accompanying catalogues, special lists, and anniversary brochures.

Cataloguing and Access

The Tauchnitz Collection has been fully catalogued. Records appear in Explore the British Library. All volumes have been allocated a shelfmark with the prefix 'Tauch'.

The British Library shelfmarks are closely based on the item numbers in:
Tauchnitz international editions in English, 1841-1955: a bibliographical history, by William B. Todd and Ann Bowden (New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1988). A copy of this is available in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room at shelfmark: RAR070.50943.

More detailed information concerning the textual significance of the Tauchnitz editions and the development of the Todd-Bowden Collection can be found in:
Tauchnitz-Edition : The British Library, London (London: British Library, 1992). Copy in British Library stacks at shelfmark: ZA.9.d.172(47).

Volumes from this collection should be consulted in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room.


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