Definitions

Baedeker

Baedeker

[bey-di-ker]
Baedeker, Karl, 1801-59, German publisher, founder of the Baedeker guidebooks. His printing establishment was at Koblenz, but his son Fritz, who continued the business, moved it to Leipzig. Printed in several languages, the guidebooks provided valuable historical information and ran into many editions, especially for European countries. Although the firm's files were destroyed during World War II, the business was revived after the war by a great-grandson of Baedeker. In 1950 the firm began publishing automobile touring guides.

Karl Baedeker, oil painting by an unknown artist

(born Nov. 3, 1801, Essen, Duchy of Oldenburg—died Oct. 4, 1859, Koblenz, Prussia) German publisher. The son of a printer and bookseller, Baedeker started a firm at Koblenz in 1827 that became known for its guidebooks. His aim was to give travelers the practical information necessary to enable them to dispense with paid guides. A notable feature of the books was the use of “stars” to indicate objects and views of special interest and to designate reliable hotels. By the time of his death much of Europe had been covered by his guidebooks. Under the ownership of his sons the firm expanded to include French and English editions.

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Karl Baedeker, oil painting by an unknown artist

(born Nov. 3, 1801, Essen, Duchy of Oldenburg—died Oct. 4, 1859, Koblenz, Prussia) German publisher. The son of a printer and bookseller, Baedeker started a firm at Koblenz in 1827 that became known for its guidebooks. His aim was to give travelers the practical information necessary to enable them to dispense with paid guides. A notable feature of the books was the use of “stars” to indicate objects and views of special interest and to designate reliable hotels. By the time of his death much of Europe had been covered by his guidebooks. Under the ownership of his sons the firm expanded to include French and English editions.

Learn more about Baedeker, Karl with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Verlag Karl Baedeker is a Germany-based publisher and pioneer in the business of worldwide travel guides. The guides, often referred as simply "Baedekers" (sometimes the term is used about similar works from other publishers, or in reference to any kind of guide), contain important introductions, descriptions of buildings, of museum collections, etc., written by the best specialists, and are frequently revised in order to be up to date. For the convenience of travellers, they are in a handy format and in small print.

History

Founded by Karl Baedeker in 1827, the company relocated in 1872 to Leipzig under his third son Fritz Baedeker, who took over control of the company following the death and disablement of his older brothers. With the widespread advent of mechanical transportation, it was Fritz who managed an explosive growth in the line of travel guides, also producing international guides. Prior to World War I, Baedeker's guides were famous enough that baedekering became an English language verb for the process of travelling a country for the purpose of writing a travel guide or travelogue about it.

World War II

During 1942, Germany launched a series of air attacks against English cities of historical importance featured in the Baedeker Guide to Great Britain. These "Baedeker raids" were carried out as revenge for Royal Air Force bombing attacks against German cities, including Berlin.

During the years of World War II, the Nazi government commissioned publication of several travel guides of occupied regions of Europe. Among these were travel guides of Generalgouvernement (General Government, part of occupied Poland and Ukraine), and the Alsace region of occupied France annexed by the German Reich.

The Baedeker company's premises and files perished in a December 1943 air raid, but Baedeker's great grandson revived the company, restarting publication of tourist guides in 1948.

Post-World War II

The publishing house joined with the insurance company Allianz Group in 1978, and many of the guides have been called "Baedeker Allianz Travel Guides" (Baedeker Allianz Reiseführer) since then. However, as of 2001, 64 titles in English and 24 in French do not carry the Allianz logo; Prentice Hall and Macmillan have published the English titles.

Influence

For 40 years (1878-1918) the Scottish brothers James and Findlay Muirhead published the English-language Baedekers. In 1918, they established the ongoing Blue Guides as heir to the great 19th century Baedeker tradition.

Purchasing a Baedeker

Internet sites such as eBay and Abe Books regularly list old Baedeker guidebooks for sale. The guides of most historical and cultural interest span the period prior to World War II; describing Europe, the United States, Egypt, Canada, India and Russia in the context of the day.

Care must be taken when buying guides, with respect to their condition. It is suspected (though most of the Baedeker company's catalogue of published guides were destroyed in a bomb raid during World War II, so they are unable to confirm or deny) that a change in construction methods, with age, leads to rusting in binding staples, which rot pages, which results in the guides literally falling apart. Guides printed post-1920 are most likely to have been stapled.

Rarer books (e.g. Russia, India, Egypt, Palestine & Syria) regularly sell for quite significant sums.

Baedeker in popular culture

A Baedeker is mentioned in book and film A Room with a View; it is the guide Lucy Honeychurch reaches for when she is lost in Santa Croce. It is also referenced heavily in the book, and in Where Angels Fear to Tread by the same author, E. M. Forster.

In a passage of the novel V. set in Egypt, Thomas Pynchon frequently refers to Baedeker.

T. S. Eliot wrote a poem entitled "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar."

Mina Loy's first book of poetry is titled "Lunar Baedecker" (1923). Robert McAlmon's Contact Editions press misspelled the title.

Philip Pullman's Lyra's Oxford includes excerpts from a fictional "Baedeker's guide" to Lyra's Oxford.

Helen Coale Crew wrote a short story titled "The Baedeker Boy" (illustrated by Matilda Breuer) in Volume 9 of "The Children's Hour; From Many Lands" (1953).

External links

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