Mystery of the Big Book

Over the years, the photograph above has appeared on numerous blogs and websites, usually captioned as “man with large book at Prague Castle, 1940s” or “c. 1940s: Man with books.” However, bibliophiles and antiquarians have long questioned the image’s description and sought a more accurate attribution. Well, it seems that the only thing that the original captions correctly identified was the location as Prague.

Recently internet sleuths have tracked the first publication of the photo to a Czech publication Fotorok, Volume 58, Issue 1, published in 1959, page 35. The image was taken by a Prague-based photographer named Miroslav Peterka who took the picture at the National Library of the Czech Republic at the Clementinum. Originally the image’s caption read “Archivy chystají velkou jarní výstavu československé státní myšlenky na Pražském hradě.” It translates to “The archives are preparing for a large spring exhibition of the Czechoslovak state idea at Prague Castle.”

While the mystery of the actual location of the photo has been solved, we still don’t know the name of the woman archivist in the image, or if the giant book is still in the beautiful Baroque library, which is a part of The National Library of the Czech Republic.

I would be happy to return to Praha and spend a week or two attempting to solve the remaining mysteries of the big book.

This entry was posted in Architecture, Books, Europe, History, Libraries, Museums, Photography, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Mystery of the Big Book

  1. restlessjo says:

    I’ve never been. Happy to come too. And a very healthy, happy New Year to you!

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