Provinssin valistusporvareita – Johan ja Baltzar Fellmanin kirjasto Raahessa 1800-luvulla

  • Kari Mäki


The aim of the article is to describe the collections of books that belonged to Johan (1781–1870) and Baltzar (1789–1862) Fellman in the context of their merchant career and book history. Most of Fellman’s books were found in a project that aimed to revive the historical book collection of Raahe Business College. Bibliographic data was collected from this collection, as well as from the collections of the Raahe library and museum, on the 135 works of the brothers in nearly 300 volumes. The identification of books as belonging to Johan and Baltzar Fellman was mainly based on inscriptions and, for some books, on a school library catalogue. Actual physical book collections have rarely been used in 19th century research in Finland.

The results of the study gave a surprisingly diverse picture of Fellman's library. In fact, its composition is very similar to libraries owned by other coastal Swedish-speaking bourgeoisie engaged in foreign trade and literary activities at the end of  the 18th and early 19th century according to estate inventory deeds: mainly historical works, biographies, travel literature, dictionaries, trading and maritime guides and religious charter literature printed in Sweden.

Johan and Baltzar Fellman’s library, however, had their peculiarities and the brothers also adopted the literary culture of their time in different ways. The former had plenty of science and textbooks from various fields and books in English, including the collected works of Shakespeare and Pope, Sterne’s novels, and reissues of 18th century literary journalism. Fiction in English was still rare in Finland at the beginning of the 19th century. The younger brother seems to have appreciated personal geographical and historical narratives. Fellman’s collections consisted mostly of non-fiction and professional literature after they became interested in shipping and started a joint business in the late 1810s. With a few exceptions, the output of Finnish printing houses was not evident until the 1840s.

The study raised questions concerning book owner identification and the mobility and loss of books that pose challenges to historical research. In addition to the lack of more recent fiction, there was a lack of law books and only a few religious works. The results obtained were considered in the light of source-critical discussions on book ownership research as well as the values adopted by the brothers. Further analysis on books as individual objects is required to bring out the material dimension of the print culture of an Ostrobothnian town in the golden age of sail.

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joulu 9, 2020