A sammelband of material relating to the Great Fire of Hamburg. 

[Germany, 1842.] 

11 printed items, 8vo and 4to, plus two maps, bound together in contemporary cloth-backed boards with patterned sides; some browning and dampstaining, the larger items folded, one with a horizontal tear.


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A fine and unusual volume of materials relating to the Great Fire of Hamburg of May 1842, comprising a long article by Joseph Mendelssohn published over five issues of Der Komet, special issues of several periodicals devoted to the disaster, a rare poem by Margarethe Hedwig Hülle, and maps of the city before and after the fire.  The Great Fire, which started early in the morning on 5 May and raged for four days, destroyed a quarter of the inner city and killed fifty-one people, with the loss of many churches and the town hall.  It (or rather its aftermath) was the first historic event to be recorded using the new art of photography, and the enormous losses born by insurers were instrumental in the development of reinsurance. 

On the scene after the event was the writer and journalist Joseph Mendelssohn (1817–1856), whose long article, ‘Scenen aus Hamburgs jüngsten Shreckenstagen’, was published over five issues of the Leipzig periodical Der Komet.  Mendelssohn had published his first work, Blüthen: Gedichte und Novellen, in 1839, and spent the next two years in Paris, where he knew Heine, Dumas, and Hugo.  Another journalistic account appeared in the 9 May issue of the Staats- und Gelehrte Zeitung des hamburgischen unparteiischen Correspondenten, present here in the original and in two different reprints – supplements to the Rheinischen Zeitung and the Bremer Zeiting.  Also included here is a very rare poem on the fire, Der Brand von Hamburg (Bremen, 1842), by the blind writer Magarethe Hedwig Hülle, née Hoffmeier (1794–1861).  Her first major work was a free rendition of the Odyssey, published in 1826, which was generally well received, though Goethe, to whom she sent a copy, called it ambiguously a ‘wunderlichen Übersetzung’; she published several other collections and a novel.  Der Brand von Hamburg was published ‘zum Besten der abgebrannten Armen’, and is now very rare, not in Library Hub, OCLC, or KvK. 

A full list of contents is available upon request. 

[MENDELSOHN, Joseph].  ‘Scenen aus Hamburgs jüngsten Shreckenstagen’, in Der Komet.  Unterhaltungsblatt für gebildete Stände … No. 106 [– 110].  28. Mai [– 1 Juni] 1842. [Leipzig, Hirschfeld, 1842.]  4to., pp. [421]-440, with an engraved header to each issue. 

Abdruck des hamburgischen unpartheiischen Correspondenten vom Montag, den 9 Mai 1842.  [Hamburg, 1842.]  4to., pp. [4], browned. 

Extra-Beilage zu No. 131 der Rheinischen Zeitung.  [Cologne, 1842.]  4to, pp. [2].  Reprinting an article from the Altonaer Merkur.

Extra-Blatt der Abend-Zeitung der Börsenhalle.  Hamburg, den 9. Mai [1842].  Folio broadside, folded, horizontal tear without loss.  At the foot the publishers apoligise for the temporary halt in publication; the Stock Exchange, though at the heart of the area effected by the fire, miraculously survived.

Staats- und Gelehrte Zeitung des hamburgischen unparteiischen Correspondenten.  Montag, den 9 Mai.  No. 106.  [Hamburg, 1942.

HÜLLE, Hedwig.  Der Brand von Hamburg Mai 5, 1842.  Ein gedicht … Bremen, Johann Georg Heyse [1842].  8vo., pp. 7, [1]. 

Beilage zu No. 131 der Bremer Zeitung  … 11 May 1842.  Folio, pp. [2], folded. 

Two maps of Hamburg, one engraved (from before the fire), and one lithographed by J. C. Baum of Cologne, ‘nach dem grossen Brande’, and showing the extent of the damage. 

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