Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Northern Germany as far as the Bavarian and Austrian Frontiers: Handbook for Travellers by Karl Baedeker.

Northern Germany as far as the Bavarian and Austrian Frontiers: Handbook for Travellers by Karl Baedeker. Paperback book (cloth covered card) published by Karl Baedeker 1904 (fourteenth revised edition), 395 pages with maps (some with colour and some monotone). Some of the maps fold out.

Verlag Karl Baedeker, founded by Karl Baedeker on July 1, 1827, is a German publisher and pioneer in the business of worldwide travel guides. The guides, often referred to simply as "Baedekers" (a term sometimes used to refer to similar works from other publishers, or travel guides in general), contain, among other things, maps and introductions; information about routes and travel facilities; and descriptions of noteworthy buildings, sights, attractions and museums, written by specialists.

Before Lonely Planet grabbed a near monopoly on travel guides for as far the eye can imagine including where “there be dragons”, there was Baedeker*. Published in Leipzig, Germany, they were THE guidebook to have whenst roaming abroad during the late 1800s and up unitl much later, and by all accounts they were pretty good at what they were meant to do, which is guiding. Lots of maps and information and a good proportion of the maps were fold out colour cartographic gems. And you had a choice of language, German or English. If you were French or from anywhere else that didn't speak German or English, bad luck. Baedeker wasn't for you.

New editions of Baedeker's are still in print but i'm not so sure how collectable these newer editions are... probably not very. Currently I have a swag of vintage Baedeker's for sale that are ticking over nicely. Everything from Northern Germany to Southern Germany... and others. All are in English, which is lucky to have in an English speaking country, although I do know a German speaker who has an interest in vintage travel guides**.

All of these volumes have some wear. They are travel guides and having personally travelled with various travel guides over the years, I can confidently say that they do wear. Shoving them in and out of bags, opening and closing maps, reading them, saving lives*** etc, usually leaves some sort of toll on any travel guide... unless it's not used.

In the last 10 years i've only come across one of two of these collectible vintage editions, so when I stumbled on a shelf full as part of an estate, I couldn't resist and grabbed the lot. I paid a bit more than I usually do for this sort of thing, but I figured that it was too good an opportunity to stock up the shelves in one quick purchase. I've had a few offers for the collection as a whole, but have decided to persist with selling them individually. Will they sell? Is Tony Wheeler a wealthy man?

* Others as well.

** Hello Dieter.

***A description of Bacillary dysentery in a well known guide book, allowed me to self diagnose and medicate. Recovery was swift.

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