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Franz Taeschner collection

Identifier: ubl200

Scope and Contents

According to Schmidt 2006, p. 27, the Taeschner collection covers 'a broad range of genres and subjects, from Korans to works on musicology, from chronicles to divans, and from stories to archery. Absent are works on mathematics and natural sciences. There are two brief texts on medicine.'

An exquisite item is Or. 12.365 (3), a richly illustrated 17th-century copy of the Tarih-i Hind- Garbi, a history of the New World (Schmidt 2006, pp. 115-121).

Besides original manuscripts, the Taeschner Collection contains several portfolios of photographic reproductions (Or. 12.583), and photocopies of the handwritten catalogues of two Istanbul libraries, Feyzullah Efendi en Veliyüddin Carullah Efendi (Or. 12.856, Or. 12.857).


  • 1491-1931
  • Bulk 1700-1900

Language of Materials

Ottoman Turkish, some Arabic and Persian.

Conditions Governing Use

Regulations that apply during the use of these materials can be found on the website of Leiden University Library.

Biographical / Historical

Franz Gustav Taeschner was born in Bad Reichenhall, Germany, on 8 September 1896. He was born into a family of pharmaceutical entrepreneurs, which accounts for his great private wealth in later life. He studied Oriental languages at several German universities, obtaining his doctoral degree from the university of Kiel under Georg Jacob in 1912. During the First World War he served as Turkish dragoman in Palestine. He was captured and detained as a POW, only returning to Germany at the end of 1919. In 1929 he became extraordinary professor of Oriental languages at the university of Münster, receiving tenure as ordinary professor only as late as 1942. He became a member of the Nazi party in 1933. After the Second World War he was temporarily removed from office. He retired in 1956 and died in Münster on 11 November 1967.

Franz Taeschner published extensively on Arabic and Ottoman studies, most notably on the 'futuwwa' or chivalrous brotherhoods of Islam. His most popular work is probably Geschichte der arabischen Welt, first published in 1944 and republished several times.

Taeschner’s private wealth allowed him to travel extensively in the Middle East throughout his life (Schmidt 2006, p. 26; Kissling 1968).


130 manuscripts (3 metres)


Verzameling van 130 vrijwel uitsluitend Osmaans-Turkse handschriften uit het bezit van de Duitse oriëntalist Franz Taeschner (1896-1967), verworven in 1970.


Collection of 130 manuscripts, almost exclusively in Ottoman Turkish, previously owned by the German Orientalist Franz Taeschner (1896-1967). Acquired in 1970.

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

The Turkish manuscripts were catalogued in 2006 by Jan Schmidt (Schmidt 2006, pp. 26-335).

Custodial History

Many manuscripts appear to have been acquired from Istanbul antiquarian booksellers. 41 items were supplied by Rıza Nasrullah Tebrizi, who had shops at the Adalarİskelesi, Sirkeci, and at the antiquarian bookmarket (Sahaflar Çarşısı) off Bayezid Square (Schmidt 2006, pp. 26-27).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Taeschner's extensive private library, including the manuscripts, was offered for sale by E.J. Brill, Leiden, in 1970 (Catalogue No. 426, Turcica, p. 48 item 1101). The manuscript collection was purchased by Leiden University Library in December 1970, apparently for the price of 22,000 Dutch guilders.


No future additions are to be expected.


  • E.J. Brill Catalogue No 426. Turcica from the collection of Prof. Franz Taescher. Leiden 1970.
  • Kissling, H.-J.,[Nachruf] Franz Taeschner (1896-1967), in: Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 118 (1968), pp. 14-17.
  • Schmidt, J., Catalogue of Turkish manuscripts in the library of Leiden University […]. Vol. 3: comprising the acquisitions of Turkish manuscripts in Leiden University Library between 1970 and 2003. Leiden, 2006. (Codices manuscript, 39).


The material can be requested and consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Processing Information

The collection was registered upon arrival in September 1971 as Or. 12.338 - Or. 12.464. The later additions Or. 12.583-Or. 12.586 were registered in August/September 1971; Or. 12.856-Or. 12.857 were added in 1973.

Collection guide of the Franz Taeschner collection (1491-1931)
Collectie Franz Taeschner
Arnoud Vrolijk, 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het Engels.

Revision Statements

  • 30 January 2013: latest update

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

Witte Singel 27
Leiden 2311 BG Netherlands
+31 71 527 2857