A ‘tavoleto’ of city history in coffee shop

Applebaum's Bookshop on Division Street was a centre for Esperanto speakers
Applebaum's Bookshop on Division Street was a centre for Esperanto speakers

The owners of a new Sheffield coffee shop have been delving into the history of their premises and found an intriguing story about a city advocate of international language, Esperanto.

The building that now houses 200 Degrees on Division Street used to be Applebaum’s Bookshop.

Jakob Applebaum, Sheffield bookshop owner and international Esperanto expert

Jakob Applebaum, Sheffield bookshop owner and international Esperanto expert

Owner Jakob Applebaum (1877 – 1964) was a leading advocate of Esperanto, a language created in the 19th century which soon became the most widely-spoken constructed international auxiliary language in the world. Advocates included film star Charlie Chaplin and writers J R R Tolkien and Leo Tolstoy.

Jakob was well known for his Esperanto expertise in Sheffield, nationally and internationally and wrote songs and poems. He acted as an advisor to organisations looking to promote it and ran the Esperanto group in the city which used to meet at the bookshop.

Sheffield was important in the world of Esperanto, hosting the British Esperanto Conference in 1914, 1974, 1992 and 2014, and the city is one of the few places in Britain to have a street named Esperanto, with Esperanto Place in the city centre.

It is thought the Sheffield Esperanto Group continued to meet until approximately 1995. Now people mainly learn the language using on-line courses.

To embrace this local heritage and to honour the memory of Jakob, 200 Degrees Coffee (200 Gradoj Kafo) is inviting Esperanto speakers to once again hold one of its meetings at the coffee shop.

Taking place on Tuesday (October 23), guests will enjoy educational talks and chatter in Esperanto while enjoying great coffee and a spot of lunch provided by 200 Degrees, which is at 25 Division Street.

The coffee shop will also unveil a permanent display documenting Jakob and his work, preserving this little piece of Sheffield’s heritage for posterity.