|Binding exterior (Seller's photo)|
|Decorative title page (Seller's photo)|
|Title page (Seller's photo)|
While the content of the book might be interesting to those interested in theosophy, it is the provenance and what was done to the book that made it interesting enough for me to spend the not insignificant sum of €181.
The book was originally issued in 15 volumes and had been rebound into 5 volumes at some point before 1890 when it was disbound and then rebound into its 29 individual sections/chapters. This was done for easier access to the text by the owner who bought it from an antiquarian in Tübingen in 1883. What is unusual and very nice to find is that the owner (Carl Friedrich Beck) wrote his rationale for rebinding and the costs onto the flyleaf.
Here a transcription by the dealer of the inscription:
Gegenw[ärtiges] theosophisches Werk Jak. Böhme ist im Jahre 1883 v. der antiquarischen Buchhandlung in Tübingen angekauft worden. Dasselbe bestund damals in 5 Bänden. Im Jahre 1890 hat man dasselbe nach all seinen einzelnen Theilen wie solche der sel. Böhme geschreiben, und zwar der schnellen Auffindung und des bequemen Gebrauchs halber in 29 Bd. binden lassen, deren Kosten sich auf 18 M. belaufen. Gesamtkosten des Werks 61 M. Gebe Gott, daß dieses unschätzbare Werk nicht in unberufene Hände gelange. Anno 1890.According to the dealer this volume is the only one of the 29 that made it... The binding cost of 18 Marks in 1890 is equivalent to € 111 ($144 in 2008), the total costs for the text of 61 Marks is equivalent to € 378 ($491 in 2008). These € (Euros) are indexed, but do not take into consideration the average incomes during that time that were quite a bit lower. Unfortunately despite having just about every other statistic related to binding and binderies, Bernhard Harms' Zur Entwickelungsgeschichte der deutschen Buchbinderei in der zweiten hälfte des 19. Jahrhundert (1902) does not have any information on wages... However Heinrich Bürger's Die Hamburger Gewerkschaften und deren Kämpfe von 1865 bis 1890 (1899) indicates on page 80 that in 1872 the weekly wage for a unionized bookbinder in Hamburg around 12~16 Marks at 10hrs/day...
This theosophical work of Jak. Böhme was bought in the year 1883 from the antiquarian bookseller in Tübingen. At that time it consisted of 5 volumes. In the year 1890 the same text was rebound into 29 individual volumes reflecting [Böhme's] original organization to make it easier to access and use the text. The cost for this rebinding was 18 Marks, total costs for the text 61 Marks. May God ensure that this priceless work not fall into unbidden hands. Anno 1890
All in a all a great find - Danke Peter fürs darauf aufmerksam machen.