Johann Georg Tinius

Engraving: Tod eines Bücherliebhabers
Tod eines Bücherliebhabers (Death of a Book-Lover), engraving taken from Freund Heins Erscheinungen in Holbeins Manier by J. K. A. Musäus, 1785
Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Leipzig

Johann Georg Tinius

Clergyman, bibliomaniac, murderer

I thought long of Master Tinius, the one who had lost his head to books, who crept through the desolate heaths of Fläming with his hammer: if others have the money, and he needs the books?!

Arno Schmidt, Das steinerne Herz, 1956

In 1813 a wealthy Leipzig widow was robbed and murdered. The motive: money to buy books. The murder weapon: a hammer for adjusting bookcases. The accused: a theologian, teacher and book collector. The Saxon pastor Johann Georg Tinius had lost his mind to books. He continuously added to his scholarly library of at least 40,000 volumes. He claimed to have added 50 hundredweight in a single winter.

Twenty-two years in prison were the price for his collecting mania; his library was auctioned off in 1821. But as a true bibliomaniac he knew the contents of his books by heart and continued his scientific studies in prison as well.