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3186 Insel-Bücherei volumes from the collection of H. and A. Isermeyer, Bremen, for the German Museum of Books and Writing

Press release:  November 6, 2014

The German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library has received a gift of 3186 Insel-Bücherei volumes published from 1912 to 2002.

The collection of H. and A. Isermeyer of Bremen is an almost complete Insel-Bücherei set but also includes different versions of particular titles, with variant content, designs and presentations. These variants set the collection apart, above all from a bibliographic and publishing history perspective. There are many special editions, for instance. The collection is unrivalled in its scope and condition, and admirably complements the production documents of the Leipzig-based Insel publishing house held in the German Museum of Books and Writing.

"Receiving a gift of such magnitude and historical and cultural significance," explains Dr. Stephanie Jacobs, head of the German Museum of Books and Writing, "is one of those surprising moments that comes along once in a while in the working life of museum staff - a moment which is always accompanied by the hope that such public-spirited commitment to the preservation and publication of valuable cultural assets proves infectious!"

Over the decades in which she collected the works, the donor drew up a full list of the collection, including enlightening comments on the provenance and price of the books - representing a valuable resource from a publishing history viewpoint. Upon the death of the donor, Dr. Annemarie Isermeyer, who is now 92 years old, the collection is to be moved to Leipzig where it will be made available for bibliographic, publishing and cultural history research and then made accessible to the general public in exhibitions.

"Insel-Bücherei" - a series of books published by the Insel publishing house without interruption since 1912 - is regarded as the quintessential 20th century book series. The aim of the series was to provide high quality cardboard-backed books with superior typography and design at moderate prices. The series set standards with its consistent presentation, and survived all the economic and political upheavals of the 20th century - the two world wars, the National Socialist dictatorship, inflation, the partition and reunification of Germany. Launched by the Insel publishing house in Leipzig in 1912, the series was continued between 1945 and 1990 in both German states simultaneously - in Wiesbaden/Frankfurt am Main and also in Leipzig. Today it is published by Suhrkamp / Insel in Berlin. The volumes are well-presented from a book design viewpoint and the content includes world literature and the works of contemporary authors but also nature and art volumes as well as licensed editions of works from other publishing houses. It remains the publisher's most successful and varied series.

Background

The book has shaped our culture and civilisation like no other medium. For centuries our knowledge about the world and its peoples has been stored in books. The task of the German Book and Writing Museum of the German National Library is to collect, exhibit and process evidence of book and media history. Founded in 1884 as the Deutsches Buchgewerbemuseum (German Book Trade Museum), it is the oldest museum in the world in the field of book culture, and also one of the most important with regard to the scope and quality of its stocks.

The main focus is on the book and its myriad aspects: as an ingenious invention and as the product of economic and technical processes, as a social icon and the most important vehicle of culture, as a work of art and as a censored and burned repository of ideas.

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