With the establishment of a printing office in Cassel after 1600 by Wilhelm Wessel, the number of bindings which may safely be attributed to Cassel increases also. In the decoration of these volumes the effects of Dutch and French influences may alike be observed, not merely because the taste of the court favored partly the one, partly the other style , but principally because the bookbinders were recruited from the religious refugees from France, so that one is not surprised to find the attempts of beginners beside the finished performances of masters, and badly engraved imitations of tools beside others of classical elegance.
The most important and extensive addition of magnificent bindings was that made to the library in consequence of the Palatinate inheritance in 1686. Carl Ludwig, the last Pfalzgraf of the house of Pfalz-Simmern, had bequeathed to the Landgraf Carl of Hesse the Court Library at Heidelberg (not to be confounded with the older Palatine Library which was carried off to Rome) which had been collected by himself and his father. After the disputes arising out of this inheritance had been settled by judicious negociations, this library, including that of some 4500 volumes which had been this library, including that of some 4500 volumes which had been left by Princess Charlotte of Hesse-Cassel , the consort of the Kurfurst, was brought to Cassel in the summer of 1686. It also contained relics of the old Court Library (for which it is well known that a special bindery existed under Otto Heinrich) in the characteristic, well preserved calf bindings embossed with blocks and rolls.
These newer accessions are bound in the style of Le Gascon-Badier, enriched, however, with a number of new and original designs. The blocks with the coat of arms of the Palatinate ; the end-papers of a style that was never used in France; the uniform binding of books from all manner of printing offices, are proof that the volumes were bound in a Heidelberg bindery.
On this point the Grand-Ducal archives, unfortunately, afford no information, the documents having probably been destroyed in the great fire of the castle. The circumstance that only scattered volumes decorated in this style, among them, in particular, those volumes decorated in this style, among them, in particular, those which were retained as referring specially to the history of the Palatinate and Bavaria, are to be found elsewhere, has hitherto kept in obscurity this bindery and this style , so important for the history of bookbinding in Germany. The inducement to introduce the Le Gascon-Badier style. which I should be inclined to call the ‘filigree’ style, into Heidelberg, may perhaps be found in the marriage of the sister of the bequeather, the well known. in the marriage of the sister of the bequeather, the well known Lieselotte, with Philip I. of Orleans. At the time of the transfer of the Palatinate library a catalogue was compiled which still exists in Cassel, marked Mscr. litt. fol. 5, and enabled the provenance of the books to be definitely ascertained. The provenance of the books to be definitely ascertained. The catalogue marks are given with each volume photographed. Later on, a catalogue of the private library of the Pfalzgrafin was also brought to Cassel and is still in the archives of the library. Later rulers steadily enlarged the library and adorned the books in the styles of their times. Material of the best quality, gilding of noble simplicity with borders and centre-pieces, frequently with coats of arms, are the leading characteristic.
Interesting, too, are some volumes with rich rococo scroll-work, brought from Italy by the Landgraf Friedrich II, (cf. the last plate). Still later on, under Jerome Napoleon, the number of incunables was greatly increased by accessions from the confiscated libraries of Westphalian monasteries.
On its establishment in 1580 the library was kept in one of the rooms of the princely Chancery, which was connected with the castle by a gallery. In 1585 it was transferred to the new mews opposite the castle, and on the erection of the new museum by Landgraf Friedrich II. the library was moved into the upper story of that building where it is still housed. Originally it only occupied one large hall which took up the whole of the main wing. The hall also served, according to the taste of those times, for the exhibition of other works of art, mathematical instruments etc.,
MARBURG, March 1893.
Dr. L. Bickell.