Historic Rambles 2, March 6, 2019: Book nr. 800. Read what this is all about.

I guess you know that we are obviously – as far as my research went so far – the only accommodation with a special focus on local history and a corresponding library. The only one in Prague, the only one in the country, and, as it seems, the only one – worldwide? Would definitely be a great USP.

Why am I writing this? This morning the postwoman came with a parcel. I had ordered a special publication by Ivan Margolius, of which only 1500 copies exist, and it will be one of the highlights of our collection: V4799_1415956862

Tatra – The Legacy of Hans Ledwinka, new fully updated and revised collector’s edition, written with John G. Henry, including: foreword by Norman Foster and ‘My Father’ by Erich Ledwinka, Veloce Publishing, Dorchester, 2015.

Apart from the joy of finally getting this book I discovered that it would be publication nr. 800 in our catalogue which I have been carefully compiling since last autumn.

All this is connected with a range of coincidences and discoveries.

I think it was 2010, when a friend – a graphic designer – asked me to write a story about Prague’s tramway as he had made a few pretty sketches depicting Prague’s old tram cars. In the course of my research I bumped into a pre-WWII company called Ringhoffer that was allegedly located somewhere in Prague’s Smíchov district, south of Malá Strana, partly pretty, partly ugly. That research literally exploded under my eyes and turned into a really big task.

The result: An illustrated 35 page story on our website (In German), meetings and becoming friend with the last direct descendant of the Ringhoffer family, living in Vienna, and a most fascinating parallel story of where the Volkswagen Beetle, at least partly, originated from. From Emanuel-Josef Ringhoffer I got an exclusive copy of the (unpublished!) family chronicle, several books on the company – which, by the way, also manufactured the Imperial Train of Austria’s Emperor but last Francis Joseph – and lots of additional information. In 2017 I attended an international Ringhoffer conference at the former Ringhoffer country chateau and golf ground Štiřín, near Kamenice. Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences delivered talks about the enormous impact of the company on 1st Republic Czechoslovakia, about the family’s numerous affiliations with other industrial clans and the still visible heritage.

The only thing that I was missing was THE book on the company’s most famous division – the Tatra car company, which now completes our collection.


Lots of stuff about Prague. Lots of things you never knew. Photo: GK

What kind of publications do we have? Books and files mainly. Apart from books on history, industrial history, architecture, literature, theatre, religion or Jewish history there are biographies, picture books (design!) and a carefully selected but growing collection of special interest articles, graduate papers and dissertations. I realised very soon that the number of publications per subject equals my degree of interest in it. Prague’s German Jewish literature is a focus as well as the origins and the ideological background of Prague’s Baroque architecture, the fruitful and very interesting connection between Paris and Prague between approx. 1848 and 1938 (“Why the early Picasso in Prague’s National Gallery?”) as well as Czech emancipation during the 19th century and Prague as the city of German exile between 1933 and 1938.

Interested? Stay with us. You won’t forget it. www.arcoguesthouse.com

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