The Cotta Archive preserves the registries of the J. F. Cotta publishing house (J. F. Cotta’sche Buchhandlung) – among other things the personal publishing house of Schiller, Goethe and Alexander von Humboldt – including the registries of the publishers Liebeskind and Herz, purchased by Cotta. The holdings of this archive of the most significant German publisher of the 19th century are of interest not only for literary fields, but also for general cultural history (e.g. publishing history, history of technology, art history and history of science).
Custody of the »Cotta Collection of Manuscripts« was given to the Schiller National Museum (SNM) by the Stuttgarter Zeitung in 1952. The Archive Library followed in 1954. In 1961, they were left to the museum as a depositum. With the extraordinarily rich holdings of Goethe, Kleist, Jean Paul, Heine, Lenau, Fontane, Sudermann and Heyse, to name a few, the Cotta Archive substantially expanded the »Swabian« collection of the Schiller National Museum and thus gave the impetus for founding the German Literature Archive in 1955.
The Archive Library has been completely catalogued and is designated with a corresponding call number in the Marbach Library Catalogs. The Cotta Collection of Manuscripts is almost completely catalogued, including the manuscripts, the contracts, the letters to Cotta, the »internal matters«, the letters from Cotta (books of letter copies 1835-1889) as well as papers collected in other holdings (e.g. Sudermann). Currently, the catalog of the Cotta Collection of Manuscripts is being retroconverted.
In light of the lack of pertinent documents from the period between 1787 and 1810, the »Cotta Publisher’s Book 1787-1806« is the central book-historical source for the rise of the J. F. Cotta publishing house to the most significant publisher in Germany. It is available as a facsimile edition from the Klett-Verlag thanks to the generous support of Agathe Kunze-Schairer and Hedwig Kaiser.
Birgit Slenzka, Bianca Grosser