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Eric Bartheld
IU Libraries

Last modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lilly Library acquires Oktoberfest book

Oct. 23, 2007


An engraving from the Lilly Library's rare book on Oktoberfest

Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Lilly Library has acquired an extremely rare copy of a book detailing the origins of the well known Bavarian tradition of Oktoberfest. One of only a few copies worldwide, the book was published in 1811 and describes the harvest festival first held to celebrate the 1810 wedding of the crown prince Ludwig to princess Theresa von Sachsen-Hildurghausen.

Bound in embossed leather, the 46-page book includes two engravings, one of which folds open to reveal music composed for the occasion. The book's title is stamped in gilt.

"Few people realize that a popular celebration such as Oktoberfest had its origins in a specific event nearly two centuries ago," says Joel Silver, curator of books at the Lilly Library, "but the full story is here in this book."

The author, Andreas Michael von Dall 'Armi, was a major in the cavalry of the National Guard and one of the event's organizers and participants. As part of the celebration, the cavalry escorted the royal family to a horse race. The text contains exhaustive details of the event, with an emphasis on the soldiers' invaluable role in the pomp and circumstance.

Dinner was served to everyone in attendance, and according to Dall 'Armi, "In a few blinks of an eye, the entire raceway, which had been nearly empty up to that point, was overflowing with people."

Cavalry members, the author says, were particularly concerned that the event, including a parade and music, should become a new tradition.

The Oktoberfest tradition continues today as a lively festival filled with food, beer and music.

"The book is not only fascinating in itself," Silver says, "but it also fits into several of the Lilly Library's collecting areas, including European history, music, and food and drink."

The Lilly Library, IU's library for rare books and manuscripts, houses more than 400,000 books, 130,000 pieces of sheet music, and approximately seven million manuscripts. It is one of 18 libraries on campus administered by the IUB Libraries to help students and faculty succeed in their academic goals.