From the Ashes

Identifying, Documenting, and Rebuilding the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek’s Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft Collections

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In 2004, fire struck the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek (HAAB) in Weimar. The fire particularly affected its seventeenth-century collections, among them rich holdings of works associated with the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft, the foremost seventeenth-century German cultural society. This article investigates the impact of the blaze, looking back over the decade that has elapsed since the event. Among the questions investigated are: what are the numbers of lost, damaged, and surviving volumes? What are the effects on the scholarly research community? How successful has the HAAB been in replacing lost Society editions? What roles have the HAAB’s duplicates and restoration efforts played in the editions’ continued accessibility? How has, in sum, the significance of the library’s Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft holdings been altered due to the damage inflicted by an early twenty-first century disaster?

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    Title page of Georg Neumark’s Der Neu-Sprossende Teutsche Palmbaum (1668), a history of the Society’s first fifty years. 10

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    The Wilhelmsburg, in Neumark’s Der Neu-Sprossende Teutsche Palmbaum (1668).

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    Volumes located in the HAAB’s Historical Building.42

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    Screen shot from HAAB catalog for volume one of Hortleder’s history, detailing extensive damage.

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    Evidence of provenance: Duke Johann Ernst I’s representational bookbinding with his coat of arms, initials, and year.

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    Evidence of provenance: Duke Wilhelm IV’s name on the title page.

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    Volume status by call number scheme.

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    Portrait of Georg Neumark from Der Neu-Sprossende Teutsche Palmbaum (1668).

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    Fire damage to the binding of the HAAB’s copy of Christ-Fürstliches Traur-Gedächtnüß (1665, [erschienen 1666]).

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    Location of the print, showing water damage around the edges.

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