Philippe Schmid

Dukedom Large Enough: Renaissance Self-Fashioning and the Crisis of the Learned Book Market in the 17th century

My dissertation studies book collecting practices in the 17th century as a form of self-fashioning. I focus on the book market of the Holy Roman Empire and its periphery, looking at collectors from Amsterdam, Wolfenbüttel, Copenhagen, Danzig and Strasbourg. The German book trade was in­creasingly dominated by the cities of the Dutch Republic. For this reason, the collecting of books has to be placed in an international context. I will study book industry data that sheds light on the international exchanges of books, making use of publishers’ stock catalogues and, for the individual collectors, examples taken from the new auction trade. I have prepared a database of the book collection of Duke August of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1579–1666), which offers rich evidence for early modern collecting habits. This economic perspective will be combined with a microhistorical investigation of particular collectors. Correspondence with friends, agents and authors can reveal networks of collaborators and show how collections were built up and used as social capital. Portraits, poems, bookbindings and treatises about the establishment of a library give further evidence on the self-fashioning with books, which was far from a solitary ac­tivity. Markets are transnational, but fashions and changing tastes are too. Treatises on building a library were read all over Europe, and many collectors sought inspiration from the most famous libraries, not least by adding catalogues of these libraries to their own collection.