Velhagen & Klasing

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Velhagen & Klasing was a major German publishing company in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Long nineteenth century[edit]

Velhagen & Klasing's first major success was the popular cookbook of Henriette Davidis from 1844–1875.[1][2] The company earned 2,762 Thaler in the cookbook's peak sales year in 1858,[2] or the equivalent of over US$40,000 in 2017.[4] Davidis argued fiercely with the company over her compensation, and her royalty payment increased from 50 to 1000 Thaler over its publication history.[1]

In the 1870s and 1880s, Velhagen & Klasing sold two-thirds of its Lutheran and patriotic works through Colporteur salesmen, at the time a new method of marketing through door-to-door salesmen.[5][a]

Another area that Velhagen & Klasing emphasized was geography textbooks. In this area, Ferdinand Hirt [de], who published Ernst von Seydlitz [de]'s works, was their major competitor.[6] In the mid-to-late 1800s, Hirt & Sohn[b] and Velhagen & Klasing together had an oligopoly in the German textbook market.[7][8]

Velhagen & Klasing was also dominant in popular children's literature.[9] Their popular novels for girls in this era conveyed largely the same values as their schoolbooks, namely virtue, piety, self-sacrifice, and docility.[9]

In the late nineteenth century, Velhagen & Klasing published a number of very popular adventure novels by S. Wörishöffer.[10][11] She was hired by Velhagen & Klasing to rewrite an unsuccessful novel by a previously unpublished writer, Max Bischoff, which resulted in Robert des Schiffsjungen (1877).[10][12] The publisher intentionally hid the identity of Wörishöffer, who was not the world traveling male that the novels implied, in order to preserve their credibility.[11]

In 1886, they began publishing the illustrated family monthly, Velhagen & Klasing's Monatshefte, which included reviews by Carl Hermann Busse.[13][clarification needed]

In 1901, they bought the publishing company of Georg Wilhelm Ferdinand Müller (1806–1875) from his heirs. Müller's work consisted primarily of textbooks.[14]

The publisher had significant involvement in the Leipzig Geographical Society, known as Geographischer Abend.[15]

After World War I[edit]

When World War I caused a redrawing of national boundaries, some publishers, such as Columbus Verlag of Berlin [de], began developing geographical maps which ignored territorial boundaries. Velhagen & Klasing rejected this shift and focused on territorial boundaries.[16] Velhagen & Klasing published the second most popular school atlas in Germany in the 1920s, after the one made by Carl Diercke.[17] Their atlases in this era were examples of cartographic propaganda intentionally designed to promote German nationalism,[18] as had their other textbooks since the nineteenth century.[19] The trend to expand the borders of Germany and German cultural influence in Velhagen & Klasing's maps began in the late 1920s, and by 1933 their maps contained large-scale falsifications.[20]

Velhagen & Klasing was one of many who profited from the closure of Jewish and left-wing publishing companies during the Nazi Party's rise to power in the 1930s.[21]


  1. ^ Occupational breakdown of Velhagen & Klasing's consumers is available in Fullerton (2015, p. 246)
  2. ^ Founded by Arnold Hirt


  1. ^ a b Goozé 2007, p. 268.
  2. ^ a b Fullerton 2015, p. 167.
  3. ^ 1500 to 1850: Ulrich Pfister, 2010. "Consumer prices and wages in Germany, 1500 - 1850," CQE Working Papers 1510, Center for Quantitative Economics (CQE), University of Muenster. 1851-1882: Coos Santing, 2007, Inflation 1800-2000, data from OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Economic Outlook. Historical Statistics and Mitchell, B. R. International Historical Statistics, Africa, Asia and Oceania 1750-1993 London : Macmillan ; New York : Stockton, 1998, International Historical Statistics, Europe 1750-1993 London : Macmillan ; New York : Stockton, 1998, and International Historical Statistics, The Americas 1750-1993 London : Macmillan ; New York : Stockton, 1998. After 1883, German inflation numbers based on data available from Deutsches Statistisches Bundesamt.
  4. ^ According to the Destatis Federal Statistical Office, 2,762 Thaler in 1882 is worth US$38,265 in 2009. It seems reasonable to assume there was some inflation between 1858–1882.
  5. ^ Fullerton 2015, p. 245.
  6. ^ Tatlock 2010, p. 187.
  7. ^ Tatlock 2010, p. 162.
  8. ^ Askey 2013, p. 5.
  9. ^ a b Askey 2013, p. 104.
  10. ^ a b Ramos, Cortez & Mourão 2017, p. 124f.
  11. ^ a b Grewling 2014, p. 111.
  12. ^ Grewling 2014, p. 122.
  13. ^ Kafka 2016, p. 407.
  14. ^ Graham & Sarkowski 2008, p. 389, Ch 1. n. 1.
  15. ^ von Maltzahn 1905, p. 33-34.
  16. ^ Nekola 2015, pp. 143–144.
  17. ^ Herb 2002, p. 97.
  18. ^ Herb 2002, p. 111.
  19. ^ Askey 2013, p. 10.
  20. ^ Liebenberg, Demhardt & Vervust 2016, p. 218.
  21. ^ Barbian & Sturge 2013, p. 315.


Further reading[edit]

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