Karl Baedeker, oil painting by an unknown artist
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).