I’m reading Sebald‘s The Emigrants (a birthday gift from my wife) and have gotten (along with much literary pleasure — Michael Hulse’s translation reads as if the book was originally written in English, a very rare effect) a couple of new words, both (oddly) on p. 152 of the New Directions paperback. The first is candlewick: “….she in a pink dressing gown that was made of a material found only in the bedrooms of the English lower classes and is unaccountably called candlewick.” The OED has it (s.v. candle-wick), but offers no suggestion as to the origin of the name, so “unaccountably” is the mot juste. The second is passe-partout: “Inscribed on the slightly foxed passe-partout… were the words: Gracie Irlam, Urmston nr Manchester, 17 May 1944.” This, according to the OED, is “an ornamental mat or plate of cardboard or the like, having the centre cut out so as to receive a photograph, drawing, or engraving, to which when framed it serves as a mount or border. Hence passe-partout frame, a frame ready made with such a mount for reception of photographs, etc… A kind of adhesive tape or paper used for framing photographs and for other purposes.” The phrase “slightly foxed” suggests to me that the second of these definitions is meant. I’m guessing that both words are identical in the German original, but I would be grateful if a reader with access to it would let me know.
I would also be grateful if anyone can identify for me the “hollegrasch coins” mentioned on page 199; hollegrasch gets no Google hits (and is not in my coin books), so it may be a typo or it may be an incredibly obscure coin. Whoso knows, let them speak. [It turns out this is the Jewish baby-naming ceremony usually spelled Hollekreisch; see this Wikipedia article.]