East Prussian friendship album with silk sphinx

[Album amicorum]. Friendship album of Friederike Sophia Mielcke, née von Hamilton (1786 - after 1832).

Mostly Königsberg but also Woplaucken, Rastenburg, Ragnitz, Rosendahl, Wolk, Wilkam, Queden, Partsch, Heinrichshöfen, 1801-1831.

Oblong 8vo (ca. 192 x 122 mm). (82) ff. with 87 entries and 16 illustrations (watercolours and pencil drawings of flowers, urns, and ruins, plant leaves, a silk sphinx etc.). Contemporary leather with giltstamped decoration. Coloured endpapers. All edges gilt.


A fine East Prussian friendship album from the early 19th century, most entries by women, from local families including Goltz, Trenck, Quooß, Schenk von Tautenburg, Schönermarck, Lebbin, etc. The owner, Friederike Mielcke, was the daughter of the Prussian major general Ernst Wilhelm von Hamilton (1744-1811); from 1814 onwards she was the wife of the later Royal Councillor August Gottfried Mielcke (1774-1837).

All entries save for nine were composed before her marriage, mainly in Königsberg, and reflect the military milieu in which the general's daughter lived (with contributions by numerous generals and other staff officers, as well as several of their daughters). The most prominent contributor is probably the Prussian major general Johann Friedrich von Herrmann (1739-1818), who went down in history for a speech ("Prussia or death!") he gave to his officers at the French siege of Pillau. Here, the nearly 73-year-old enters a four-line poem: "Das Glück soll Dir an jedem Morgen / Der Freundschaft schönste Rosen streun, / Und niemals müßen finstre Sorgen / Beherrscher Deines Hertzens seyn" (6. Nov. 1812). Friederike's father composed his entry on 22 October 1806, only a few months before he was severely wounded in the Battle of Eylau: "Gott selbst hat Dir Dein Loos beschieden: / nimms dankbar aus der Vorsicht Hand. / Erfülle jede Pflicht zufrieden, / die sie mit diesem Loos verband. // Bey allen vorkommenden Begebenheiten Deines Lebens erinnere Dich Deines aufrichtig liebenden Vaters".

The most noteworthy of the numerous illustrations, almost exclusively the work of feminine hands, is probably an Egyptian scene embroidered in silk (12 April 1803) by Ernestine Philippine Pascha (1787-1854), the daughter of the Königsberg merchant Carl Friedrich Pascha - a pun on her apparently oriental last name: the Great Sphinx of Giza before the Great Pyramid, surrounded by palm trees. But the more conventional watercolours of urns and flowers, as well as the plant leaves cut from green silk and mounted in the album, are all likewise executed with great care and skill.

The contributions offer a window into the social connections of eminent German military families and their complex kinship relations. It is, perhaps, all the more remarkable that the owner of this album did not herself marry an officer, but a jurist. Her husband's father Daniel Friedrich Mielcke (1739-1818), his uncle Christian Gottlieb Mielcke (1733-1807), and his grandfather Peter Gottlieb Mielcke (1692-1753) had been important figures of East Prussias cultural life in the 18th century and contributed to the literary history of Lithuania (cf. Zavinta Sidabraite, Neue Fakten zur Biographie von Christian Gottlieb Mielcke).

One leaf removed, otherwise very well preserved throughout and quite charmingly illustrated.

Stock Code: BN#49347 Tags: ,