8. Francke’s Private Library

Eighteenth-century works that were available in the private library of August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) and his son Gotthilf August Francke (1696-1769) can be searched for in this database. The library was sold on 24 September 1770 at an auction in Halle.

In a one-year project, funded by the Federal State of Saxony Anhalt, the titles of this private library were reconstructed and listed according to the rules for alphabetical cataloguing, on the basis of references found in the transregional catalogues of the Common Library Network (Gemeinsame Bibliotheksverbund, GBV). The 1770 auction catalogue provided the foundation of this reconstruction. Reinhard Breymayer discovered this catalogue under the signature <8 H. lit. 232> in the Munich University Library; cf. Reinhard Breymayer: Zum Schicksal der Privatbibliothek August Hermann Franckes. Über den wiedergefundenen Auktionskatalog der Privatbibliothek seines Sohnes Gotthilf August Francke. Ein Xenion zum I. Internationalen Kongress für Pietismusforschung Halle (Saale), 28. August bis 1. September 2001. 3rd extended edition, Tübingen: Heck, 2002.

In the auction catalogue, the auction lots are divided into four categories: Libri [theologici], Libri peregrini idiomatis, Raw Material (unbound books), Libri omissi (Supplements); in turn within these categories according to book formats (in the sequence of 2°, 8°, 4°, 12°) and within the formats to serial numbers.
Only 3.2% of the titles could no longer be reconstructed. A total of 3,037 lots went to auction. However, the number of individual volumes they contained is far higher and amounts to nearly 4,000 volumes. These included ca. 6,000 book titles, perhaps even as many as 8,000. All in all, 77% of the bulk of the reconstructed titles dealt with theological literature. The remaining disciplines – history, philology, medicine, etc. – are represented with 10%, 4% and 2%; other disciplines, such as law, rhetoric, natural sciences and fine literature, take up even less space. Within the literature of theology, theological comments and treatises form the largest proportion, totalling 45%, followed by devotional literature (17%), pamphlets (13%) and sermons (9%).
Reference: Christoph Schmitt-Maaß: Die Privatbibliothek von August Hermann und Gotthilf August Francke. Pietismus und Neuzeit 40 (2014), pp. 214-223.


The title displays first show the field “Title description from the auction catalogue” of 1770, followed by a field “Category in the auction catalogue” indicating the precise reference in the auction catalogue with category, format, serial number and page number in the auction catalogue, for example, Libri theologici 4° 358, p. 694. Below this one will find details about the reconstructed full title, which is searchable by means of a keyword and an advanced search. At present not all foreign titles with the correct diacritics have been included. Please note that the references do not list specimens from the private library of August Hermann and Gotthilf August Francke, but only examples determined for title verification by means of catalogues in the Common Library Network (Gemeinsame Bibliotheksverbund, GBV).

Digital provision

Please note that thus far no books once owned by father and son Francke have been physically located. This research is still to be accomplished and was not part of the DFG-funded project “Francke Portal.” Therefore, no printed works appear under the thumbnails in a digital format. However, reference information (links) to works printed in a digital format that – if existing – are accessible can be found below the bibliographical title information.

Requesting your cooperation

We would be very grateful if you could notify us of the location of printed works, including the provenance characteristics revealing either August Hermann Francke or Gotthilf August Francke as previous owners. Please contact Dr. Britta Klosterberg, head of the August Hermann Francke Study Centre.

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