Our shops are open and we are processing online, telephone and email orders as normal

UNZER, Johanna Charlotte.

Versuchin sittlichen und zärtlichen Gedichten.

[Leipzig: Johann Gottl. Immanuel Breitkopf] for Carl Hermann Hemmerde, in Halle, 1754 Stock Code: 137490
Reserve Ask us a question

A fine example of a Breitkopf publication by an important 18th-century German woman philosopher

First edition of a beautifully produced work of verse, printed by the celebrated German typographer Johann Gottlob Immanuel Breitkopf.

"The only significant German woman writer of 'anacreontic poetry'", Johanna Charlotte Unzer (1724/25-1782) published two early books of verse: the present, a set of contemplative poems which "include illuminating autobiographical references and reflect Unzer's interest in philosophical issues and methods", and the lighter Scherzgedichten (joke or witty poetry) of 1751 (Dawson in Wilson, Schlueter, & Schlueter, unpaginated). "As poet laureate of the University of Helmstedt, she was one of the few female thinkers allowed to speak publically. Her Grundriss einer Weltweisheit für das Frauenzimmer (1751) is a survey of philosophy for female readers. She described Leibniz-Wolffian tenets, while arguing for a philosophical anthropology that was well ahead of its time An early pioneer of environmental philosophy and a subtle critic of Christian theology, she could be characterized as a predecessor of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of perception. Ranking among the most innovative philosophers of the century, her male peers dismissed her" (Klemme & Kuehn, p. 809), and she was a vocal supporter of women's right to education.

The publishing house Breitkopf, founded by Immanuel's father Bernhard Christoph in 1719, was Leipzig's preeminent printing firm and one of the most important publishers in Germany at the time. Breitkopf the younger (1719-1794) took over the printing operations in 1745. "He studied languages, history, and philosophy (with Gottsched) and brought an intellectual inquisitiveness to matters of printing He not only refined the art of book printing, introducing a new and clearer form of Fraktur, but he also developed new methods of printing playing cards, wallpapers, portraits, and maps" (Stauffer, p. 3). He is best remembered for revolutionizing the printing of music scores with moveable types, and his books are characterized by their superior layout and typographic design.

Confused? Read our glossary


Small octavo (158 x 98 mm). Contemporary German sprinkled paste paper boards, red spine label, edges marbled and striped.


Engraved vignette title page, head- and tailpieces, initials.


Library label ("Ex Libris Stahl") to front pastedown, bearing a neatly pencilled note: "Gattin des auf unseren Tischbeingemälde Dargestellen. Verbindung zu den Erfurter Ziegler (s. LP Fünkeldaus [sic])"; shelfmarks to same and facing free endpaper, stamp ("v. Böhl. Cramon") to title leaf verso. Boards lightly worn and scuffed, a little loss to headcap resulting in chipped spine label, contents occasionally faintly spotted else crisp and clean. A lovely copy in a contemporary German binding.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book