How much do you know?

Found- How much do you know? The book of a thousand questions and answers. It was edited by Harold F. B. Wheater and published in London (Oghams Press, circa 1937.) It is part of a set of 10 practical self improvement books bought in a secondhand bookshop (Chapel Books, Westleton). Condition was way above average but the books are of modest value.

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Some of the information is very dull but at JOT we occasionally do dullness. Some info is very dated and some possibly erroneous - if the Ying Lo Ta Tien was 23000 books that would put it on a par with a printed out version of Wikipedia 2016 (in English). Possibly volumes were thin with big lettering...the first entry sounds like the luckiest accident ever and the one on Schubert is a tragedy and a terrible waste- what was sold for 8 shillings would probably now make £8 million.

What is the largest gold nugget ever found?

The 'Welcome Stranger', discovered by accident in Victoria, Australia, in 1869, through a cart making a rut in the ground. It weighed 2520 ounces.

What was the world's largest encyclopaedia?

The Ying Lo Ta Tien, or Great Standard of Yung Lo, compiled in China by order of the emperor of that name during the fifteenth century A.D. It consisted of 22,937 books and contained nearly 367,000,000 written characters. Only three copies were made; two perished when the Ming dynasty fell in 1644; the third (with the exception of a few volumes) was destroyed in the siege of the Legations at Peking (Peiping) by the Boxers in 1900.

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Hermann Sudermann—bearded wonder

 This is unusual, but perhaps not for its time. Back in 1906, when this postcard was sent from Berlin to a certain Seigfried Keiller, who was living in the Jewish ghetto of Gartenstrasse, Breslau, it would seem that celebs trusted the postal service to deliver signed photos of themselves safely. Not a likely prospect today!

Hermann Sudermann (1857 – 1928), a hugely successful novelist and dramatist in his day, was that celebrity, as one can see from the bottom of the card, where his scrawl of a signature appears just above his printed surname. We don’t know exactly when the card was printed, but he looks to be around his mid or late forties.  At the time Sudermann was at the height of his popularity. A German nationalist and an admirer of Nietzsche, his plays and novels found a ready audience, not only in his native land, but also in Japan and Britain, where, for instance, the English version of his drama Heimat, which played with the notion that the artist should be able to lead a freer moral life than the bourgeoisie, attracted actresses like Sarah Berhardt and Mrs Patrick Campbell. His plays also formed the basis of more than thirty films worldwide.

Sudermann died in 1928, but as someone who promoted nationalism and romanticized ideas of ethnicity, his popularity lasted right up the Second World War. However, with the defeat of Hitler and the cultural re-evaluation that accompanied the rebuilding of Germany, his work became distinctly unfashionable and today he is an almost totally forgotten figure.
     
Incidentally, it is interesting to speculate why Sudermann came to send a signed photo of himself. It is possible that Keiller attended a performance of one of his plays in the presence of the dramatist and that he approached him for an autograph. Sudermann may then have promised to do better than supply a signature and afterwards dispatched the signed postcard. Such a scenario seems more likely than the notion of Keiller looking up Sudermann’s address and number in the Berlin phone directory. But you never know!

[R.M.Healey]