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Collection – Graphic prints

The Historisches Museum Frankfurt – just like many historical museums  – has had a Graphic Art Collection since its founding, which focuses on Frankfurt’s typographical history. The collection includes around 76,000 hand drawings, print graphics, maps, postcards, signs etc.
The basis of the Graphic Art Collection is made up of several private collections, which ended up in the museum during its first years via the Stadtbibliothek, the former city library. This is where the Frankfurtensien collection of merchant Johann Christian Gerning (1744-1802) comes in, for example, and the portrait collection of senator Henrich Wilhelm Lehnemann (1723-1802).
The designs
Unlike traditional Kupferstichkabinetten (“cabinets of prints and drawings”), the Graphic Arts Collection at the Historisches Museum is not classified by artist, but according to themes and print media: the main series encompass topographical views, city maps and architectural plans of Frankfurt and the region, historical events (with special sections on the imperial coronations, the Frankfurt fair, the revolution of 1848 and World War I),  and portraits. The corresponding works from the Photography Collection  are also kept here. Around 2,000 prints with views of the city and its buildings by Carl Theodor Reiffenstein (1820–1893) are kept separately.

Smaller series contain portrayals of the life of theatre and music in Frankfurt, of the lives of people in the region, the Frankfurt military, sport and healthcare and of the police and fire services. Other focuses include the printed material of the city’s administration, electoral and commercial material, advertising media, images of fashion and traditional dress, devotional pictures, business cards and bookplates as well as miniatures and initials, printers’ marks and commercial art. The blueprints of Frankfurt craft guilds are included in the collection as well. Also worthy of mention are the artistic prints, several architectural bequests (e.g. that of Salins de Montfort) and drawings from the estate of the Dombauverein (cathedral construction association).

The print media
The range of various print media form an important part of this inventory. This includes calendars (from 1693), posters (from 1880), postcards, playing cards (from the 16th century), picture sheets from the 18th and 19th century, coloured paper and wallpaper. Last but not least, the Graphic Arts Collection also includes documents such as passports, certificates, diplomas, journeyman’s certificates, family trees, coats of arms, birth and marriage announcements and obituaries.

The collection of Old Books includes precious and rare publications from the 16th to the 19th centuries whose main purpose is exhibition. This is where visitors will find the “Messrelationen” (editions published in conjunction with the Frankfurt book fair, forerunners to the present-day magazine); the election and coronation diaries; works – such as the Gottfried'sche Chronik – illustrated by Matthias Merian the Elder; chronicles, almanacs and calendars of Frankfurt; legal texts; historical numismatic works; guild books; the illustrated volumes of Diderot’s Encyclopédie and a collection of approximately 130 family albums. The originals of these works recorded in the museum database can be seen in the Graphic Art Collection.

Die Graphische Sammlung des Historischen Museums Frankfurt am Main, by Gerhard Bott, Frankfurt a. M. 1954.
Detailed reports
The Burnitz collection
Acquisition 2009
Climatic crates to ward off Jack Frost
Journey preparation for large graphic prints