The German Albatross editions

In 1938 Albatross was riding high, publishing about 50 books a year under the Albatross brand and another 50 or so under the Tauchnitz brand.  There were some problems in operating in Germany under a Nazi regime, but the business was an undoubted success, and there was clearly a market for English literature on the European continent.  They were about to launch a new series of Albatross Giants, for novels that were too long for the main series.   But the market for novels in the original language was inevitably limited, so it was a fairly natural extension to think of publishing English language novels in translation.

A single Albatross edition in German had appeared much earlier, in 1934, but that had been a one-off, a prestige publication to mark the release of a previously unpublished Dickens manuscript.   There was no attempt at the time to follow this up with other German language publications, and it was not until 1939 that a series was launched under the title ‘Deutscher Albatros’.   Even then, the books were not published by Albatross themselves, but by the publisher W. Spemann in Stuttgart.   There was certainly still some involvement by Albatross though, and the books were printed by Brandstetter in Leipzig, who was not only the printer for both Albatross and Tauchnitz, but also at this point the owner of Tauchnitz.  In recognition of this, after a first volume published only in Stuttgart, the title pages of the remaining pre-war volumes show the place of publication as Stuttgart and Leipzig.

Deutscher Albatros 1 Mein Vater das Genie paperback

The first book, ‘Mein Vater das Genie’ was a translation of a book that had earlier appeared as Tauchnitz volume 5286.  It was published in paperback, in a similar format to the standard Albatross and Tauchnitz editions, although with an illustrated cover, which is actually an integral dustwrapper, folding over plain card covers.  Advertising on the flap announced a further 7 books to be published, all translations of books that had appeared in either the Albatross or Tauchnitz series.   Just three of these were published before the outbreak of war a few months later and as far as I can tell all three appeared only as hardbacks.

Deutscher Albatros 4 Mekkapilger

A pre-war hardback edition – volume 4 in the series

After the war, another one of the books from the original list was published in 1946, although with some noticeable differences.  ‘Encore for love’ by Katherine Dunlap had appeared as Tauchnitz volume 5313 in 1938 and a translation with the title ‘Glückliche Tage auf Schloss Boisbrault’ was announced in 1939.   By the time it appeared in 1946 as volume 5 of the series, the title had changed to ‘Und noch einmal Liebe’.   Brandstetter, whose premises had been destroyed in a bombing raid in 1943, was no longer the printer, and the title page now again refers only to Stuttgart.

Deutscher Albatros 5 Und noch einmal Liebe dustwrapper

Was this post-war publication approved by Brandstetter, who presumably held the copyright, or by Albatross whose brand and logo were being used?   Or was it just resuming work that had been planned before the war, as if nothing had changed?  At more or less the same time, rival Albatross and Tauchnitz firms, in Paris and in Hamburg, were publishing from the Tauchnitz backlist with probably little recognition of Brandstetter’s rights.   Was Spemann a third firm doing much the same?

A sixth book in the series, ‘Silber in Burma’, again one that had been previously announced, was published in 1948, and at least two of the pre-war titles were re-printed around the same time.  The two remaining unpublished books from the pre-war list are again announced, to be published in 1949, but I can find no evidence that they actually appeared.   Were sales disappointing, or had Wolfgang Brandstetter asserted his rights, as he seems to have done with the Tauchnitz Hamburg operation?


Posted on March 23, 2015, in Vintage Paperbacks and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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