Universitatea „1 Decembrie 1918” din Alba Iulia
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7 / 2018
The need to popularize and the obsession for a perfect translation: British Bibles from Samuel von Brukenthal´s library
In the Brukenthal´scher Bibliothekskatalog (cca. 1803-1811), the inventory of Samuel von Brukenthal´s library, there are listed 34 different editions of the Bible. These are Lutheran, Catholic and Calvinist Bibles, in German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, English, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Dutch and even Welsh, printed in France, England, Scotland, The Netherlands, in some German cities and towns, in the Habsburg Empire etc. In the 18th century, the Principality of Transylvania was situated on the Eastern border of Catholic and Protestant Europe, the Europe where Brukenthal´s Bibles were produced. Among these, six were printed in the oposite part of the continent, in the island of Great Britain. The goal of this paper is to examine whether the British Bibles that ended up on the shelves of Samuel von Brukenthal´s library were appreciated and/or rare in a broader European context. In other words, how were these editions regarded on the European book market of the 18th century? Were they easy to find? Were they generally known by collectors? What was their value compared to other editions that existed on the market? Were they mentioned in the instructive bibliographies and dictionaries of rare books of the time or were they not only obscure, but also lacking any special value and thus were suited for a bibliophile from a rather peripheral region of Europe? The data gathered from 110 book auction catalogues from the second half of the 18th century and from the literary and scientific journals of the 17th and 18th centuries shows us that at least two British Bibles from the library of the Transylvanian aristocrat were sought after by bibliophiles from all across Europe.
Keywords: British Bibles, library, Samuel von Brukenthal, book market, 18th century.