Digital Library of the Carl Menger Collection: 
the author's copy of Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre and others


On the Carl Menger Collection and the author’s copy of Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre

Yamazaki Koichi
(Professor of the Center for Historical Social Science Literature, Hitotsubashi University)

The Center for Historical Social Science Literature at the Hitotsubashi University is a rare book library established in April 1978, for the purpose of contributing to the advanced study of social sciences. The history of the Center goes back to 1875 when Shôhôkôshûjo (the School of Commercial Law), the predecessor of Hitotsubashi University, was first established. For over a century since then, the collection of historical social science literature in Western languages has been expanding continuously. The University Library was particularly enriched by the acquisition of some notable private libraries, such as the Gierke, Menger and Soda Libraries in the 1920s as well as the Burt Franklin Library in the 1970s. Soon it was apparent that the rare materials deserved and required a facility of their own ; hence the Center was established in 1978, when the pre-1851 books, periodicals and other materials in general, as well as some of the previously mentioned private libraries in particular, were transferred to a new building specially constructed to manage those rare materials. Since then, the collection has increased steadily and in 2010, it maintained approximately 75,000 volumes of scarce and valuable materials in Western social sciences.

In 1922, the University Library acquired an excellent collection of books, pamphlets, bound periodicals and other materials assembled by Carl Menger (1840-1921), the founder of the Austrian School of Economics. The collection contains approximately 19,100 volumes and includes works in many fields of social science including economics, political science, law, history, ethnography and travel. It also includes many books with Menger’s own marginal notes, the records he kept as a book-collector and letters addressed to him. However, the most important would be his author’s copy of Grudsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre with many holograph revisions.

When Menger published the book in 1871, he kept a special edition for himself, inserting a blank paper on every page of the book to create space to write his reflections. Thus, he prepared the publication of the revised edition. The copious notes, written in black ink as well as red and blue colour pencils on the blank papers as well as on the margins of the printed pages trace well the development of his ideas on economics.

After all, Carl Menger did not publish the revised edition in his lifetime. His son, Karl Menger, published the second edition of the Grudsätze in 1923, but he could not refer to his father’s special book because it had already been purchased by the Hitotsubashi University and brought to Japan. However, this does not imply that the important notes of Carl Menger were completely forgotten. In 1960, Professor Emile Kauder, an economist from the Austrian School, came to Japan and conducted research on the book and reproduced Menger’s notes on a typescript entitled Carl Mengers Ausatze zu ≪ Grundsätze der Volkswirthschaftslehre ≫ (xxv, 292p. Tokyo, 1961).This book, although a devoted effort of Professor Kauder, has a fundamental defect: because it is separated from the original text, one cannot guess on which passage Menger had annotated. As a result, one is obliged to look into the original book, if one wants to conduct a detailed research.

On the other hand, we recently noticed another problem: Menger’s hand-written notes, especially those that were written with colour pencils, had faded and become blurred after years of handling by researchers who have consulted the book. Considering these two reasons, we decided to take photos of all the pages of the book and publish them digitally. We hope that our attempt will make Menger’s hand-written notes more approachable and stimulate research on his economic thought.

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The Digital Library of the Carl Menger Collection provides free public access to primary social science sources conserved in the Center for Historical Social Science Literature (CHSSL) through High-grade digitized images
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Browse the Digital Library
CHSSL Digital Collection provides free public access to primary social science sources conserved in the Center for Historical Social Science Literature (CHSSL) through High-grade digitized images
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