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The Gottschalk Collection

by Helene Haak, student support

The Gottschalk Collection came to the Special Collections and Archives Department at the Glucksman Library in 2019, a treasure-trove of printed material related to Ireland, its literature, art, culture, music, past and present. This collection was a donation to the Centre for Irish-German Studies in UL by Celtic scholar Jürgen Gottschalk, who founded the Würzburg Irish-German Society in 1986 and devoted much of his life to promoting Irish-German friendship and scholarship.

While Jürgen Gottschalk sadly passed away in October 2019, his collection, one of the largest existing private book collections on Ireland, will serve many readers, students and scholars coming from a variety of academic disciplines and interests. 1 The Gottschalk Collection was officially opened to the public by German Ambassador Deike Potzel on 14 November 2019 and is currently being catalogued in the Glucksman Library.

 

Children’s literature

One of the highlights of the Gottschalk collection is its diverse range of children’s literature, some of which stand out because of their beautiful illustrations, others because of the work, thought and effort evident in the design of newer editions. The collection of children’s books include German editions of Irish fairy tales, legends and stories as well as modern Irish children’s and young adult’s literature, illustrating a great German interest in Irish folklore, history and storytelling and of course the popularity of Irish writers at home and in Europe.

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Artist’s books

Another area of the collection which holds rare and beautiful treasures is the carefully selected range of artist’s books, combining literature and fine art. Artist’s books were often printed in very limited editions, showcasing contemporary art in exquisitely bound editions. Some of the artist’s books in the Gottschalk Collection include works by Oscar Wilde with illustrations by Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, famous for his provoking Art Nuveau style and illustrations by German Romantic painter Philipp Otto Runge accompanying the texts from the Ossian epic. Modern artist’s books by less known German illustrators highlight how the works of Irish and German writers and artists continue to inspire new creations.

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Scholarly interest

The Gottschalk Collection is also of interest for literary and editorial scholars, bringing together a variety of editions, including scholarly ones which display the original text next to a transcription or German translation. The collection also includes a variety of editions of the same works, for instance of Gulliver’s Travels and Joyce’s Ulysses.

six shelved books
Different editions of works by Joyce

 

 

Book history

The great variety of printed materials from different centuries in the Gottschalk Collection would also be perfectly suited to facilitate a course on the history of the book and publishing. An impressive range of materials, styles and trends bear evidence of the evolution and history of book binding, printing and publishing. The Gottschalk Collection includes books bound in parchment, different types of leather, such as suede, different styles of binding and ornamentation and printed waste visible under broken spines that chronicle trends and developments in European book binding and printing.

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Curiosities

The Gottschalk Collection further appeals to the curious explorer as it includes rarities, curiosities and hidden oddities which are waiting to be discovered. From unique and humoristic works, mischievous dedications and annotations to beautiful ex libris and booksellers’ and printers’ unique stamps and labels, the collection hides many surprises in unexpected locations. This include the somewhat dreary looking tract on Ireland and the League of Nations from 1918. Inside, however, it hides a bookseller’s label as well as note from the printer, apologising for the poor quality of the paper.

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The Gottschalk Collection has much more to offer for those interested in reading, books, literature, material culture and art and, of course, Ireland in all her facets. Not least, it is a unique testimony of the relationship between Ireland and Germany and the dedication of Jürgen Gottschalk to German-Irish studies.

 


 

References
  1. Centre for Irish-German Studies, University of Limerick, ‘Centre news’, no 22, Oct 2019, p. 3, https://ulsites.ul.ie/irishgerman/node/19291[]