The Curious Frau

Early Modern German Clothing

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Building a research library on the topic of 16th century Germany

Building a library on a particular topic can be expensive, just ask me! I've made plenty of buying mistakes and often wish that there had been someone to tell me how to get started in building a physical library around the topic of 16th century Germany that was specifically geared towards recreating clothing.

Here are my recommendations for a general "Get you started" library. Of course there are additional books I could recommend for more specific areas of interest, but this would be a good start.

Total Cost for this library? Around $250 plus shipping and handling.

Recommended Starter Resources

  1. Textiler Hausrat: Kleidung und Haustextilien in Nurnburg von 1500-1600 by Jutta Zander-Seidel. ISBN 3-422-06067-7. Found online at Hausrat Translations/


    A great resource in German, with good artwork. Hard to find for sale but is possible to get via ILL. However English translation of some sections are online in the Files section of the GermanRenCostuming Yahoo Group.
    Cost: FREE

  2. Patterns of Fashion, The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c 1560-1620 by Janet Arnold, ISBN 0333382846
  3. A detailed analysis of surviving garments with construction details, close-up pictures and other great little goodies.
    Cost: $57 used on Amazon

  4. Der Landsknecht im Spiegel der Renaissancegraphik um 1500 - 1540
    Autor: Birgit von Seggern
    Publikationsform Dissertation
    Cost: Free!

    A nice dissertation about the Landsknect in Renaissance artwork. Lots of woodcuts and hard to find images, all in digital format.

  5. Complete works of Durer on CD-Rom
    Item number:49595.
    Title: Dürer, Albrecht / Lehmstedt, Mark, hrsg. Albrecht Dürer: Das Gesamtwerk - cd-rom. Digitale Bibliothek, volume 28.
    Publisher: Berlin: DirectMedia, 2004, Digitale Bibliothek 28.
    Media: cd-rom for pc or for mac,
    Language: texts in German,
    Cost: $59

    More than 2000 works, including paintings, sketches, prints, woodcuts. Organized by concordance to work catalogs of Schramm, Winkler, Knappe, Straus, and Anzeleewsky. The illustrations can easily be printed. Also includes facsimiles of the original printings of his theoretical works, excerpts from his letters and diaries, and Fedja Anzelewsky, Albrecht Dürer. Werk und Wirkung (Erlangen, 1988)

  6. Complete German Single-leaf woodcuts from 1500-1700 on CD-Rom
    Cost: $99
    Item number:70243.
    Title: Einblattholzschnitte. Deutsche Einblattholzschnitte 1500 bis 1700 - cd-rom.
    Publisher: Berlin: DirectMedia, 2005
    Media: cd-rom for pc or mac, $99

    Digitale Bibliothek Einblattholzschnitte. A representative selection of over 3400 woodcuts from a period of 200 years. The material can be searched through a thorough database, the images easily printed or exported.

  7. Magdalena and Balthasar : An Intimate Portrait of Life in 16th Century Europe Revealed in the Letters of a Nuremberg Husband and Wife by Steven Ozment (Translator)
    Used price on Amazon: $1.50
  8. The Burgermeister's Daughter : Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town by Steven Ozment
    Used price on Amazon: $4.95
  9. A Mighty Fortress : A New History of the German People, by Steven E. Ozment
    Used price on Amazon: $3.84
  10. Flesh and Spirit: Private Life in Early Modern Germany, by Steven Ozment
    Used price on Amazon: $2.65
  11. Peasants, Warriors, and Wives: Popular Imagery in the Reformation
    Used price on Amazon: $8.50

Add on pack for starter library

OK, you've got your starter library, and you just want more books. Well, I've been there too, and here are my secondary recommendations... but first a public service announcement.

My book recommendations are what I find personally useful to a native English speaker with a limited amount of German. Plus I have a strong visual learner streak, so I tend to look at artwork a lot and go "ooooooh pretty/interesting/cool! How can I make that and make it look right?". So now that you know that, here are the recommendations for the add-on pack for the starter library.

You may think, "But these should have been in the starter library!" Ah, but my good friends for the low, LOW price of around $77 USD, plus shipping and handling you can have these in addition to the starter library!

(You see, that's how a addiction library is built, twenty bucks here, thirty bucks there, and the next thing you know, you have a lot of money invested into it and you need a new book case and your SO sees a new Amazon box and says "I see you got yourself another present....")

Add-on pack recommendations

  • A good German to English dictionary. I have a Cassell's German Dictionary, German-English, English-German ISBN 0025225502 published in 1972.
  • Pick up one at your local used bookstore that is hardbound and thick, say about 2-3 inches, has lots of words in it and fits nicely in your hand. Older is better in this case, since the German language has changed a lot in the last 30 years or so. DO NOT get one of the tiny little ones, that just leads to frustration. $15

  • Tailor’s Pattern Book 1589, by Juan de Alcega, translated by Jean Pain and Cecilia Bainton.
  • A facsimile of a tailor’s pattern book from 1589. A good resource for pattern shapes and period layouts. A wonderful resource if you are interested in Spanish influenced German styles as portrayed in Jost Amman’s books.

  • The Costume Technician’s Handbook by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey.
  • While not a technical handbook on how to only draft patterns in a period fashion, it is a good resource on pattern drafting and tailoring basics. It does include instructions on how to draft a dartless body block, which is what you use in There are other modern pattern drafting books out there, but none that are really tailored to this specific use. This is the best and most easily available one that I've found so far and until I get my own pattern drafting instructions up, its what I recommend.

Weeding, aka "Making space for the new books"

In the first two sections, I wrote what should be in your library. Now I'm going to talk about what shouldn't be in your library.

There's this great concept I learned about in library school, and its called "Weeding".

Weeding is going through the collection and getting rid of books or resources that are no longer useful to you. Let's face it, sooner or later you WILL run out of bookshelf space, or places to put bookshelves. And really, are every last one of those books useful to you? Do you enjoy them? Are the books you love getting lost in the books you are just anti-pathetic about? Have you bought too many books that were mistakes?

In which case, its time to weed.

How to weed your personal library

  • Start on a day you are in a good emotional state. Doing this on a day where you feel like becoming a monk/nun with no worldly possessions is not a good idea.
  • Choose a room with books you own in it. (Weeding someone else's personal book collection is a big no-no!)
  • Pick one book off the shelf up and ask yourself these questions:
    1. Do I love this book? (Heck, lets be honest, Do you even remember OWNING this book!?!)
    2. Is this a useful book?
    3. Will I use it in the future?
    4. Do I trust the research in it?
    5. Will I read it again?

If the answer to any of these questions is "No", seriously ask yourself what its doing on your bookshelf. There are lots of other books out there that could use that bookshelf space and that you'd probably like better.

So, there are three choices you face

  1. Blow the dust off the top and put it back on the shelf
  2. If you didn't even remember owning it, put it in your pile of books to read sometime soon.
  3. Get rid of it.
  4. ?

Lets talk about option #3 Getting rid of books.

The lovely thing about this new fangled invention called "the internet" is that it has made the buying and selling of used books so much simpler. I like to sell my used books on Amazon because that's where I've gotten the best prices for them and its the easiest for me to list them as being for sale.

Selling your research books that are no longer useful to you not only frees up bookshelf space, but it can also free up another precious commodity, CASH! That's right, the thing you use to buy more books with!

So, in summary:

  1. Go through your book collection and figure out what you don't want anymore
  2. Sell the books
  3. Buy new books that you like

How to find new books that you'll like

Finding new and interesting books is not usually a problem for book lovers, but sometimes you want to find something specific, something that your local library or even university library doesn't carry...Let me introduce you to the wonders of WorldCat

WorldCat is what is known as a Union Catalog, a technical librarian term for a whole bunch of library catalogs rolled into one big searchable database. I like to use WorldCat to find new and interesting resources to order via ILL.

Searching WorldCat

Its pretty easy to search in WorldCat, you can search a general word like "Landsknecht" and plow through the results, or you can look up a book that you like and see what other books fall into that same subject header, or catagory.

To find more books in that subject header, click on the link and it will take you to the pages that list all the books that are catagorized with that subject

So its possible to go from searching for general works with the word "Landsknect" title, to finding works on secular songs in counter-Reformation Augsburg.

Once you find an interesting book or other resource material, copy and paste the important information into a text file for future reference.

I like to do it this way:

At the top of the file I write out my search topic, and I name the file something useful like: 7-16-07_GermanMusic (The date plus the topic)

Then at the top of the file, I write the search topic and any search terms I use on a particular resource:
Search topic: 16th century German music
search term: su:Music Germany 16th century.
(This is copied from the top of the WorldCat page)


Then as I find resources, I copy and paste the whole text information from the WorldCat page. I also check to make sure that the resource is in the US and is owned by more than one library. Scarce books are less likely to be loaned out than abundant ones.

Sacred and secular music from renaissance Germany
by Adam Knight Gilbert; Rotem Gilbert; Leonhard Kleber; Nicolas Grenon; Guillaume Dufay; Heinrich Finck; Heinrich Isaac; Jacques Barbireau; Adam,
von Fulda; Johannes Beham; Ciaramella (Musical group)
Language: German Type:
Internet Resource : Music : Compact disc Compact disc Computer File Computer File Sound Recording Sound Recording
Publisher: [Hong Kong] : Naxos Music Library, [2006]

Tugend und Untugend Virtue and vice : German secular songs and instrumental music from the time of Luther.
by Sven Berger; Jacob Obrecht; Ludwig Senfl; Paul Hofhaimer; Heinrich Isaac; Heinrich Finck; Convivium Musicum Gothenburgense.; Ensemble Villanella.
Language: German Type: Sound Recording : Music : Songs : Compact disc Compact disc
Publisher: Munich : Naxos, 1995. | Other Editions ... OCLC: 34492240

And so I continue until I feel I've exhausted that vein of information. When I switch to a new search word or method, but in the same topic of 16th century German Music, then I'll add in the new search term and put the new results underneath it

su:Ballads, German.

Early German ballads.
by Wolfgang Roth
Language: German Type: Sound Recording : Music : Multiple forms : LP recording LP recording
OCLC: 4444437

Once I have a good list of books that I'd love to look at and read, I save the file and order the most interesting ones via the ILL (Inter-library loan) program at my local library. If you've never used this service at your local public libray, ask a reference librarian and they will be able to help get you started.

Happy Reading!