Tauchnitz 450 Doctor Thorne Vol IIThe Tauchnitz ‘Collection of British and American Authors’ runs to well over 5,000 volumes and includes almost every significant work of English literature published between 1840 and 1940.   But this is no series of classic reprints.  It’s a series published in Germany with copyright for sale in Continental Europe, and most volumes were published more or less simultaneously with first publication in Britain or in the US, sometimes even in advance.  It includes works by Dickens, Hardy, the Bronte sisters, Kipling, Trollope, George Eliot, Henry James, Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson and a host of others.  As a record of contemporary English literature over that period, it is completely unmatched.

When the series was first launched there was no recognised international copyright convention and it was common for English language novels to be published in Europe without any recognition of copyright or any payment to the author.   The founder, Bernhard Tauchnitz, pioneered the practice of obtaining authorisation and making payment to authors, and successfully built relationships with the leading authors of the time that enabled him to get early access to their works.   He was barely 20 when he launched the firm and by the time he died in 1895 the series ran to over 3000 volumes.  The firm was inevitably weakened, not only by his death and that of his son, but by the First World War and the difficulties in Germany that followed it.   It faced many competitors over the years, but retained a dominant position in English-language publishing in Continental Europe until the launch of Albatross in 1932.   Within two years the new company had effectively taken over control of its much older rival.   Ownership of the Tauchnitz firm passed to its printer, Oscar Brandstetter, but editorial control went to the Albatross team.  The Albatross and Tauchnitz series were run in parallel until the Second World War.  The main Tauchnitz series ended in 1943 with the destruction of the Brandstetter premises in a bombing raid.  Attempts to revive it after the war had little success.

Tauchnitz 3105 Jude the Obscure Vol I reprintThe basic Tauchnitz editions were issued in paperback, but it was common in the 19th century for buyers to take them to their own bookbinder to have them bound.  The result is that they now come in a huge variety of bindings from the utilitarian to the sumptuous, as well as in the original paperback form.   In principle they are not rare or difficult to find.  Most second-hand bookshops in Britain and throughout Continental Europe will have one or two, and there are thousands for sale on the internet.  However it is difficult to recognise first printings, often almost impossible without the help of the Tauchnitz bibliography by Todd & Bowden.  Most copies offered for sale, even when described as first printings, are actually reprints.  First printings are more difficult to find and the sheer number of volumes makes it a huge challenge to collect them.  No library has a complete collection and most library collections include a high proportion of reprints.  My own collection is also far from complete, but is largely made up of first printings as far as I can tell.   It is particularly strong in paperback first printings and in the early editions.

Although there has been a lot of research on Tauchnitz, including by Todd & Bowden, and by other academic researchers, there are still lots of areas that are poorly researched or understood.    I’ll be writing about the series and the firm from the point of view of a collector rather than an academic on this blog, and there is much more at my website www.tauchnitzeditions.com.

  1. Pingback: The first Tauchnitz – an early example of vapourware? | paperbackrevolution

  2. Pingback: Tauchnitz and Albatross – the post-war division of the spoils | paperbackrevolution

  3. Pingback: The Pickwick Pirates | paperbackrevolution

  4. Pingback: The end of Albatross: not with a bang but a whimper | paperbackrevolution

  5. Pingback: Tauchnitz in Hamburg – a post-war stutter | paperbackrevolution

  6. Pingback: Martin Chuzzlewit – the Gassman cometh | paperbackrevolution

  7. Pingback: A Christmas Carol – the first printing? | paperbackrevolution

  8. Pingback: Sherlock Holmes in Tauchnitz Editions | paperbackrevolution

  9. Pingback: The scandalous Lady Blessington – a feminist pioneer? | paperbackrevolution

  10. Pingback: Chevron Books | paperbackrevolution

  11. Pingback: Publishing in the shadow of the Nazis. Tauchnitz, Albatross and Brandstetter in the 1930s. | paperbackrevolution

  12. Pingback: A dedication from the publisher – Tauchnitz volume 500 | paperbackrevolution

  13. Pingback: Blimey, I’m a limey! American authors in the Tauchnitz Edition | paperbackrevolution

  14. Pingback: DH Lawrence in Tauchnitz and Albatross | paperbackrevolution

  15. Pingback: A visit to the bookbinder | paperbackrevolution

  16. Pingback: Charlotte Brontë in Tauchnitz Editions | paperbackrevolution

  17. Pingback: The earliest known Tauchnitz paperback? | paperbackrevolution

  18. Pingback: Dickens by instalment – the Tauchnitz part-issues | paperbackrevolution

  19. Pingback: Early Tauchnitz publisher’s bindings | paperbackrevolution

  20. Pingback: A vast store of plates | paperbackrevolution

  21. Pingback: A Christmas Carol – the Tauchnitz Schools Edition | paperbackrevolution

  22. Pingback: An unusual Christmas Card | paperbackrevolution

  23. Pingback: The Tauchnitz ‘Series for the Young’ | paperbackrevolution

  24. Pingback: Designed to fail? The Crosby Continental Editions | paperbackrevolution

  25. Pingback: The history of a book | paperbackrevolution

  26. Pingback: Agatha Christie in Albatross Books | paperbackrevolution

  27. Pingback: Shakespeare plays in Tauchnitz – the 1843 edition | paperbackrevolution

  28. Pingback: Dorothy L. Sayers in Albatross Books | paperbackrevolution

  29. Pingback: Middlemarching away. The story of Asher’s Collection | paperbackrevolution

  30. Pingback: Asher’s to Asher’s | paperbackrevolution

  31. Pingback: George Eliot in Tauchnitz Editions – Part 1 | paperbackrevolution

  32. Pingback: George Eliot in Tauchnitz Editions – Part 2 | paperbackrevolution

  33. Pingback: Heinemann & Balestier – The English Library | paperbackrevolution

  34. Pingback: English to the end | paperbackrevolution

  35. Pingback: Post 370: Dicken’s biographer wrote this ((Charles Dickens by Una Pope-Hennesy: My wife has presented me with number 10, I think I could have dispensed with the compliment (Charles Dickens); Interesting history of Tauchnitz Publishing. Musical Halle

  36. Pingback: Post 370: Dicken’s biographer wrote this ((Charles Dickens by Una Pope-Hennesy: My wife has presented me with number 10, I think I could have dispensed with the compliment (Charles Dickens); Interesting history of Tauchnitz Publishing. Musical Halle

  37. Pingback: Jane Austen in Tauchnitz Editions | paperbackrevolution

  38. Pingback: A century of celebrations and the celebration of a centenary | paperbackrevolution

  39. Pingback: A Victorian satirist in Tauchnitz Editions | paperbackrevolution

  40. Pingback: Dickens – the extra Christmas numbers in Tauchnitz | paperbackrevolution

  41. Pingback: Tauchnitz ‘Cabinet Editions’ | paperbackrevolution

  42. Pingback: How an albatross gave birth to an entire aviary | paperbackrevolution

  43. Pingback: Nicholas Nickleby, Tauchnitz and the pirates | paperbackrevolution

  44. Pingback: What’s in a name? That flaming Jun. | paperbackrevolution

  45. Pingback: La France classique – The French Tauchnitz | paperbackrevolution

  46. Pingback: Aldous Huxley in Tauchnitz and Albatross – Part 1 | paperbackrevolution

  47. Pingback: Aldous Huxley in Tauchnitz and Albatross – Part 2 | paperbackrevolution

  48. Pingback: Boxing clever – the first 6 Albatross books | paperbackrevolution

  49. Pingback: Shakespeare plays in Tauchnitz – the 1868 edition | paperbackrevolution

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: