Heinrich Klemm

Portrait: Heinrich Klemm
Bust of Heinrich Klemm
Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek

Heinrich Klemm

Successful tailor with a weakness for print history

He was a short, plain man of weak and sickly body, but full of modestly, philanthropy, tireless hard work and admirable energy, altogether a self-made man in the best sense of the word. As well as the enmity of those who begrudged him his success, he earned much love and recognition.

Viktor Hantzsch, Allgemeine Deutsche-Biographie, 1906

Born as the son of a tailor and made an orphan early in life, Heinrich Klemm also completed an apprenticeship in tailoring and went on his journeyman years. In 1844 he founded a drawing institute for dressmakers and two years later published his first title, the Vollständiges Lehrbuch der modernen Zuschneidekunst und Bearbeitung sämmtlicher Herrenkleider (The Complete Teaching Book for the Art of Modern Tailoring and Working with all Men’s Clothing). The book dealer Voigt from Weimar took him on as editor of a men’s fashion magazine. Klemm married in 1850 and lived from then on in Dresden. There, he founded his own publishers and opened the “Deutsche Bekleidungs-Akademie” together with the master tailor Gustav Adolf Müller.

Klemm’s economic success allowed him to build up an extensive collection of book history. “Klemm’s bibliographisches Museum” had the aim of collecting first editions from as many early printing locations as possible. The crowning glory was a 42-line Gutenberg bible printed on parchment. The Beschreibender Catalog des bibliographischen Museums von Heinrich Klemm (The Descriptive Catalogue of the Bibliographic Museum of Heinrich Klemm), published in 1884, documented the collection, which had been sold in the same year to the Saxonian state. In 1886, the year of Klemm’s death, the collection was passed on to the Buchgewerbemuseum, which was founded in Leipzig.