Bruno Petzold (1873–1949) was born at Breslaw, Silesia, which at that time was part of the German Empire. He attended Leipzig University and Berlin University. For several years he was the correspondent in Paris for the Berliner Tageblatt and other German newspapers and periodicals and became acquainted with Georges Clemenceau, Emile Zola and other literary and political figures. He was later a correspondent in London and China before moving to Japan in 1910. He lived there for the rest of his life. He taught German at a school, Dai Ichi Kotogatta, in Tokyo, while his wife taught at the Ueno Academy of Music.
In Japan Petzold converted to Buddhism and he eventually became a priest of the Tendai sect. Most of his published articles and monographs related to Buddhism. They included: Die Triratna; Grundsätzliches űber das Wahre des Buddhismus (1933), Goethe und der Mahāyāna Buddhismus (1936), Les classifications du Bouddhisme (1937), Japanese Buddhism: A Characterization. His most important writings were published posthumously: Tendai Buddhism: Collection of the Writings of Bruno Petzold (1979), Die quintessenz der T’ien-t’ai (Tendai) (1982), The Classification of Buddhism=Bukkyō Kyōhan (1995).
The Petzold Collection was purchased by the Library in 1952 from Arnulf H. Petzold, the son of Bruno Petzold.
The original collection consisted of about 960 books, mainly relating to Buddhism but also to Hinduism, Indian history and Western philosophy. They were written in German, French and English and were mostly published in the period 1870–1945, although there are a few earlier imprints. Subsequently, the Library disposed of 130 titles, as they were duplicates.
Among the authorities on Buddhism and Asian philosophy represented in the collection are Caroline Rhys Davids, Thomas Rhys Davids, Paul Deussen, Julius Dutoit, Georg Grimm, Arthur Lillie, F. Max Műller, Karl Eugen Neumann, Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Max Walleser and F.L. Woodward. Other writers include Henri Bergson, René Descartes, Georg Wilhelm Frierich Hegel, Immanuel Kant, Josiah Royce, Georg Simmel, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolf Steiner and Max Weber.
The books in the Petzold Collection have been catalogued individually and integrated in the general collection. There is a listing of the books by Arnulf Petzold.
Harvard University Library at Cambridge, Massachusetts, holds the bulk of the library of Petzold, comprising over 10 000 volumes and including 416 scrolls, mainly emanating from Japan.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria at Victoria, British Columbia, holds the Petzold Collection of Japanese artefacts.
Hanayama, Shinshō, Preface to Petzold, Bruno, The Classification of Buddhism=Bukkyō Kyōhan, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1995, pp. xiii–xviii.
Petzold, Arnulf H., Catalogue of the Buddhist Library of the Late Bruno Petzold, Vancouver, c. 1949.