The Flying Bookseller in Berlin

This postcard depicts a German bookseller's wagon, or cart, on a Berlin Street around the turn of the 20th century, likely a bit before 1900. The back of the postcard, which may be a later issue, labels the photo "Der fliegende Buchhändler."

I knew Buchhändler was bookseller, but I had to look up fliegende, which translates to flying, i.e., Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), the famous opera by Richard Wagner.

By fliegende or flying, it is meant that this bookselling business was portable and mobile. It could move freely about to accommodate buyers in various areas of town or the countryside. Gustav Kauffmann, according to the sign off the end of the cart, owned and operated this German "Parnassus on Wheels," which appears to have made the rounds in a Berlin business district. It also looks like Herr Kauffmann is parked outside a restaurant that serves a selection of beer from the Kindle Brewery (advertising above window, visible in the first photo), which is still in business today.

Today, there is another German bookselling business that uses Kauffmann's nickname for their company: Der Fliegende Buchhändler. There's a bit of twist to their business, though. They appear to move "book tables" around their town (Karlsruhe) and region to accommodate sales at events and other settings for various publishers.


  1. i just found your blog and excited beyond belief. everything about the history of books and libraries is fascinating to me. i am going to start working on an artist book soon and hope to get some inspiration and knowledge here.

  2. Thank you, Ludid! I hope you will find something of interest here. Also check out the other blogs and sites in the sidebar for library history, bookplates, book illustrations, antiquarian children's books, etc. There's a smorgasbord of visual and textual creations to savor. I have a few other blogs related to books and ephemera that also may be of interest: Archaeolibris, Paper Matters, and Writing in Books.

    Just visited your blog. It's loaded with wonderful creative energy! A good place to get a little inspiration myself!

  3. Oops... the links above all point to the same site. Archaeolibris is fine. Here are the correct links for the other two: Paper Matters and Writing in Books

  4. thank you so much for visiting my blog and for these wonderful links. i will surely check them out some more.


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