Saturday, June 5, 2010

Insel Bucherei treasure trove

The other weekend I picked up a stack of slim, intriguing volumes in German.
Printed in Leipzig by Insel Verlag under their Insel Bucherei (Island Library) imprint in the early part of the 20th century, this series of books went on to inspire the well-known and highly collectible series of similarly designed King Penguin book series.

Insel Verlag began by exclusively printing exquisitely crafted high-cost books. However, with the start of the Insel Bucherei series in 1912, they recognized the need to produce affordable and attractive editions designed to appeal to customers with more modest financial means.
Book lovers still rejoice over these attractive volumes, which focused on shorter works by well-known authors. Subject matter ranges from fiction, to poetry, to art, to scholarly and philosophical texts. Some have quite lovely illustrations, and many are graced with the heavy script of old-fashioned German text.
For those curious about the equally delightful King Penguin books, there is a terrific gallery at Stella and Rose's Books here:

The stack I acquired shows a wide range of wear. A common issue with these volumes is the loss of the spine. Chipping, yellowing, and soiling are evident in many cases as well. However, a small number of the books in this particular lot are remarkably free of wear.

The Green Hand, as of this morning, has the following titles in stock. Please, please, please -- forgive my very hack German translations! Titles with an asterisk next to the volume number are in excellent condition. With the exception of the first listing, all texts are in German, many of them in old blackletter type.

#9 Vittoria Accoramboni: Les Cenci (in French, Insel Bucherei's Pandora No. 9) by Frederic de Stendhal

#67 Dialog vom Marsyas by Hermann Bahr (a philosophical discussion of art)

#74 Portugiesische Briefe: Die Briefe der Marianna Alcoforado (Portugese Letters) by Rainer Maria Rilke

#76* Herodias by Gustave Flaubert

#81 Von Gottes: und Liebfrauenminne: Lieder aus Deutscher Mystik (Of God and Love of Our Lady: Songs from German Mysticism, translated into modern German) by H. A. Grimm

#88 Dantons Tod (Danton's Death: A Drama) by Georg Buchner

#113 Gottfried Keller by Ricarda Huch

#210* Das Gericht des Meeres: Erzahlung (The Court of the Sea) by Gertrud von le Fort

#220 Die Ballade vom Zuchthaus zu Reading (The Ballad of Reading Gaol) by Oscar Wilde

#221* Bilder des Todes (Images of Death) by Hans Holbein (illustrated)

#222 Die Vierundzwanzig Sonette der Louize Labe (The 24 Sonnets of Louize Labe) by Rainer Maria Rilke

#224 Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts: mit Doppeltitel von Emil Preetorius (The Life of a Scoundrel) by Joseph von Eichendorff

#241 Beethovens Personliche Aufzeichnungen (Beethoven's Letters and Personal Records) collected and explained by Albert Leitzmann

#250 Die Kleine Passion (The Little Passion) by Albrecht Durer (illustrated)

#251 Das Evangelium und die Briefe S. Johannis: In der letzten Fassung der Lutherschen Ubertragung (The Gospel and Letters of St. John, Low Lutheran translation)

#252 Sonette aus dem Portugiesischen: Ubertragen von Rainer Maria Rilke (Sonnets from the Portugese) by Elizabeth Barret-Browning

#257 Fragmente (Fragments) by Novalis

#257* Gedichte und Gedanken (Poems and Thoughts) by Novalis

#260* Aus dem Irrgarten der Liebe: Verliebte, launenhafte, moralische und andere Lieder und Gedichte (From the Labyrinth of Love) by Otto Julius Bierbaum

#263* Malerei und Zeichnung: Mit einer Federzeichnung Klingers (Painting and Drawing with a Pen) by Max Klinger

#269 Uber die Aufgaben des Geschichtschreibers (On the Task of the Historian) by Wilhelm von Humboldt

#287* Ehegeschichten (Getting Married: short stories) by August Strindberg

#295* Lucinde (Lucinde: A Romance) by Friedrich Schlegel

#300 Einfuhrung in Die Phanomenologie des Giestes (Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit) by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

#312* Die Betenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (The Confession of Felix Krull) by Thomas Mann

#315 Von dem Fischer un Syner Fru (The Fisherman and His Wife: A Fairy Tale) by Philipp Otto Runge with 7 illustrations by Marcus Behmer

#452* Das Hausbuch: Bilder aus dem deutschen Mittelalter (The House Book: Images from the German Middle Ages) by an Unknown Master (illustrated)

#454* Vom Baum des Lebens: Ausgewahlte Gedichte (From the Tree of Life: Selected Poems) by Hermann Hesse

#457* Die Schellenkappe: Alte Deutsche Schwanke aus den Sammlungen des 16 Jahrhunderts (The Cap and Bells: Old German Tales in Verse [farces?] from the collections of the 16th Century) selected by Severin Ruttgers

#464* Schiller und Seine Welt (Schiller and His World) by Eugen Kuhnemann

#469 Quellen des Lebens (Source of Life: Outlines of a World View) by Richarda Huch (this volume is the only paperback in the lot)

#477* Deutsches Handwerk im Mittelalter: bilder aus dem hausbuch der Mendelschen Zwolfbruderstiftung in Nurnberg (German Craftsmanship in the Middle Ages: images from the house book of the Mendelschen Zwolfbruderstiftung in Nurnberg) with a foreword by Frederich Bod [NOTE: the Mendelsche Zwolfbruderstiftung was a home to old, feeble, or sick craftsmen]

#478* Schein und Sein: Gedichte (Illusion and Reality: Poems) by Wilhelm Busch

#482* Goethes Spruchweisheit: Spruche in Prosa (Goethe's Proverbial Wisdom: Proverbs in Prose)


  1. What are these going for?

  2. Hello, I tried to email you, but the address appears to be incorrect. In answer to your question, the Insel Bucherei books I have run from $8 to $12 on average. A few are more ($16-20), and a fair number are less due to condition or other factors ($4-$6).

    Are there any numbers from the series that you are particularly interested in? :)