Treasures of the Collection

This Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, our Curator of Collections Candace Perry, Archivist Hunt Schenkel, and Associate Director of Research, Allen Viehmeyer will talk about the unique objects, invaluable treasures, and personal favorites in our collection.

Here’s a wonderful opportunity to meet our staff, learn about the history of our museum and library (did you know we date back to the 1890s?), and see collection items not often brought out on public display. We hope you’ll join us on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s a preview:

Allen Viehmeyer, our Associate Director of Research on what he considers to be one of the most significant treasures of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center collection:

Schwenkfelder Gesangbuch

The title page for the 1733 edition of the two volume Schwenkfelder hymnbook.

As I look over the vast array of surviving books that the Schwenkfelders brought with them to Pennsylvania between 1731 and 1737, two questions cross my mind.
Did they pack anything else; how is it possible to select one as a highlight of the collection?
I’m sure they packed many items in addition to their books, but the books certainly seem to have had priority. There is everything from juvenile copy work to folio volumes of Schwenckfeld’s works. Due to its wonderful calligraphy and excellent state of preservation I believe one of the treasures of the collection is this 1733 copy of the Schwenkfelder hymn collection. This huge two volume work (ca 1200 pages), finished within months of the departure of the main group to Pennsylvania [1734], is truly a treasure piece.

-Allen Viehmeyer, Associate Director of Research

Christopher Saur Bible printed in 1776

Title page from Christopher Sauer's "Gun Wad" bible, printed in Germantown in 1776.

Hunt Schenkel, Archivist at the Heritage Center, will be speaking on the formation of the collection of the library and archives, from what the Schwenkfelders brought with them in the 1730s to the efforts the late 19th century Schwenkfelders put forth to compile the works of Caspar Schwenckfeld (what is now known as the Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum) that became the foundation for the Schwenkfelder Historical Library. Here is one of his personal favorites of the collection, the Christopher Sauer “Gun wad Bible”, the first printed Bible in America with American made type, printed in Germantown during the American Revolution, 1776. It’s known as the “Gun wad Bible” as it was commonly said British troops used its pages to form gun wads for their muskets.

Reverse glass painting

Reverse glass painting probably painted after a popular print in 1845


Our collection at the Heritage Center is quite diverse as it reflects all parts of Schwenkfelder life from the books the Schwenkfelders read to the needlework textiles women created, to the folk art paintings and drawings the Schwenkfelders made or displayed in their homes. Curator of Collections, Candace Perry, will address the treasures of the Heritage Center’s museum collection. This particular enigmatic portrait of life in the 19th century on left is the only example of a reverse glass painting in the Heritage Center’s collection. This work was owned by the Jesse Bechtel family, made around 1845. It’s a rural scene that depicts a dispute outside of a bar while two women stand behind tables, one with a dice game and the other, with two glasses of brandy and a decanter.

We’ll hope you’ll join us this Sunday October 23rd for highlights of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center’s collection.

Treasures of the Collection: personal favorites, highlights, and history of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center’s collection begins at 2:30p.m. This program is open to the public. Refreshments are served. First floor, meeting room.

About schwenkfelder

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Schwenkfelders and the history of southeastern Pennsylvania and the Perkiomen Region. The Heritage Center offers educational programming and tours, exhibits, workshops, and events throughout the year. Our blog is maintained by museum educator, Rebecca Lawrence, SLHC staff and guest bloggers.
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