AL -- General Encyclopedias

Bibliotheca lexicorum: kommentiertes Verzeichnis der Sammlung Otmar Seemann; eine Bibliographie der enzyklopädischen Literatur von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der im deutschen Sprachraum ab dem Jahr 1500 gedruckten Werke [A Library of Lexicons: Annotated Inventory of the Otmar Seemann Collection: A Bibliography of Encyclopedias from the Beginnings to the Present, with Particular Emphasis on Works Published in the German-Speaking Countries since 1500]. Comp. Martin Peche, based on an inventory by Otmar Seemann; ed. Hugo Wetscherek. Wien: Antiquariat Inlibris, 2001. 708 p. ill. 24 cm. (Katalog / Antiquariat Inlibris, 9). ISBN 3-9500813-5-6. ÖS 950.00, DM 135.00 (Antiquariat Inlibris, Rathausstrasse 19/1/27, A-1010 Wien, fax [43 1] 409 61 90-9, e-mail: inlibris@aon.at ) [01-1-011]

The dentist and private scholar Otmar Seemann has long been known as an expert in the history of lexicography, in particular with regard to general encyclopedias published in German-speaking countries from the 18th to the 20th centuries. His private collection of some 12,000 lexicons was offered for sale at a price of DM 460,000 in January 2001, and was acquired by "a private library abroad." While the collection was comprehensive but by no means complete, the catalog that was compiled for its sale will be a useful document in antiquarian circles for years to come.

The main value of the actual catalog (part one of the volume) lies in the detailed descriptions of the titles, including in-depth information on the contents of individual volumes, and copious annotations. To take one example: under the entry for the Allgemeine Realencyklopädie oder Conversationslexikon für daskatholische Deutschland, edited by Wilhelm Binder (Regensburg, 1846-1850), we find half a page of detailed bibliographic description, including individual volumes, followed by two pages of annotations in smaller type. These note the original price and the microfiche edition by Seemann, followed by quotations from the preface about the aim of the encyclopedia; a lengthy discussion of the competitive relationship to the Brockhaus encyclopedia of the time, the text of which Binder adapted with corrections from a Catholic point of view; notes on the illustrators and on the editor; and quotations from comments by contemporaries. References are also given to secondary literature. Supplementing the catalog is an index of personal names (authors, editors, publishers, and other persons mentioned in the annotations), and a chronological table that lists the short titles of the encyclopedias by year of publication.

This catalog is an indispensable tool for reference collections as well as for antiquarians. [sh/rs]

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