Saturday, October 18, 2014

Designing Spines

In designing bookbindings, the spine is one of the defining characteristics because it is often integral to the structure and what is most visible of the book when shelved. Below a series of images relating to the design of spines in chronological order starting with Paul Adam's 1898 Die praktischen Arbeiten des Buchbinders (Practical Bookbinding, 1903, as it was titled in the English edition). The captions for the images are often pedantically charming.

"Simple spines"
Paul Adam (1898),  Die praktischen Arbeiten des Buchbinders

Only use German (fraktur) faces for titles if the book is printed using fraktur,
and Roman faces if the book is printed in Roman.
In other words, don't mix typefaces.
Paul Adam (1898), Die praktischen Arbeiten des Buchbinders

The "better" 1/4 linen binding. The caption goes on to say that the proportions are to be seen as fixed
stadards with linen from spine and corners each covering 1/3 the width of the board...
The top part of the image shows the appropriate rounding for spine/foredge.
Paul Kersten (1909), Die Buchbinderei und das Zeichnen des Buchbinders
für Fortbildings und  Handwerker-schulen

The spines of "better" 1/4 linen bindings
Paul Kersten (1909), Die Buchbinderei und das Zeichnen des Buchbinders
für Fortbildings und  Handwerker-schulen

The spines of "better" 1/4 leather "extra" bindings with laced-on boards.
Paul Kersten (1909), Die Buchbinderei und das Zeichnen des Buchbinders für Fortbildings und  Handwerker-schulen.

Colors: This diagram shows how colors should be selected for binding designs,
with the lower diagrams  depicting (from top to bottom) the spine, sides, label, and top edge decoration.
Thorwald Henningsen (1935), Vorlagen für Buchbinder

The design of the bindings would then be depicted as above.
Thorwald Henningsen (1935), Vorlagen für Buchbinder

During my apprenticeship we had kept "spines" like these made of binders board in the appropriate thickness with swatches of the covering materials for spine and sides glued on including stamping the title with the selected face, size, and color foil at the appropriate height, measured from the bottom. As most of day-to-day work was "library binding," all done by hand, this would ensure that the title runs would be uniform. If a title changed size, measure title placement from bottom would ensure that it was still on the same level when on the shelf.What makes This book interesting is that the text is tri-lingual, German, French, and Italian as the book was designed for trades schools in Switzerland.

"Hand tooling" of the spine. The diagrams work the binder from a sketch to design,
show how the spine should be devided, title placement and spacing as well as suggestions for design.
Fritz Wiese (1937), Werkzeichnen Für Buchbinder

Originally published in German in 1983, this book continues the tradition of depicting spines and
book designs in this way. Like the German original, the captions are charmingly pedantic. Zeier wrote this
book for amateurs, one of the first in German to do so, but his roots as a teacher in trade and design schools
are front and center.
Franz Zeier (1990), Books, Boxes, and Portfolios.

Franz Zeier (1990), Books, Boxes, and Portfolios.

Smitten by this book when I first bought it in German back in 1984, I have given a copy of the English edition to just about every one of my students and interns as I feel it is the best introduction to the German case binding in the English language and will allow those without full binderies to learn to construct a variety of bindings and other structures.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Der Buchbinderlehrling, 1927-43

Back in December of 2013, I received my first issue of Der Buchbinderlehrling (The Bookbinding Apprentice) a “journal” published between 1927 and 1943 for apprentices in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as an insert in the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, the German bookbinding trade publication late 19th century and most of the 20th century. A journal like this was a bridge to trade school that continued the overall education of the young apprentices because they were dropped from the university-bound track. Subjects included social studies, math, and science as they related to binding. This also included paper making, leather tanning and parchment making, cloth, and in-depth engineering of bookbinding machines...

Since December I have been able to collect all volumes of the publication (just missing one issue that I will get via interlibrary loan), in part thanks to the rather limited publication period. All bindings are different, some came from the same owner, one has a gilt top-edge, and one is as issued in pamphlet bindings. Taken in aggregate, these volumes portray the life of the apprentice and the changing economic and the politicization of the crafts in chilling details with articles written by all the leading binders and educators of the time.

Im letzten Dezember bekam ich meinen ersten gebundenen Jahrgang vom Buchbinderlehrling ein beihelft zum Allgemeinen Anzeiger für Buchbindereien (AAB) das zwischen 1927 und 1943 für Lehrlinge in Deutschland, Österreich, und der Schweiz herausgegeben wurde. Eine Zeitschrift wie diese festigte den Lernstoff von Berufschule und Betrieb und diente der Weiterentwicklung der Lehrlinge. Themen waren Sozialkunde, Mathe (Fachrechnen) und Allgemeinbildung. sowie alles zur Buchbinderei.

Seit Dezember konnte ich alle Jahrgänge sammeln wobei nur ein Heft fehlt das ich per Fernleihe beziehen werde. Dies ist großenteils Dank der kurzen Dauer des Hefts. Alle Einbände sind anders, manche kamen vom gleichen Besitzer, eins ist ein Halbfranzband mit Goldschnitt, ein Anderes das Heft wie es im AAB kam, Gesehen als Ganzes zeigen diese Bände das leben eines Lehrlings sowie die Änderungen in Wirtschaft und Politik, manchmal erschütternd so, durch Aufsätze von den führenden Buchbindern und Fachlehrer.

Shelfie with all volumes together (1927 – 1943).
"Shelfie" mit allen Jahrgängen beisammen (1927 – 1943).

Quarter-vellum with vellum tips and laced through slips; quarter-cloth with pastepaper sides; stiffened paper binding with cloth spine

Halb-pergament mit verdeckten Pergamentecken und durchgezogenen Riemen; halb-Leinen mit Kleisterpapier auf den Deckeln; Steifbroschure mit Gewebe am Rücken.
Vol 1, 1927 - Vol 3, 1929.
1. Jahrgang, 1927 - 3. Jg., 1929.

Title page of first volume.
Titelblatt des ersten Jahrgangs.

Edition of 16,000 copies with first volume.
Auflage von 16,000 Stück angefangen mit dem ersten Jahrgang.

 Millimeter binding with vellum trim; quarter-leather with marbled paper sides and gilt top edge; quarter-leather binding with paper sides and calligraphed spine label.

Edelpappband mit Pergament; halb-Leder mit mamoriertem Papier und Goldschnitt; halb-Leder mit Papier und hand-beschrifteten Titelschild.

Vol 4, 1930; vol 5 - 7, 1931 - 1933; vol 8, 4/1934 - 3/1935 (Note change in publication from calendar year).
4. Jahrgang, 1930; 5 - 7 Jg., 1931 - 1933; 8. Jg., 4/1934 - 3/1935 (Erscheinungsänderung von Kalendarjahr).

Edition of 6,000 copies with volume 7, 1933.
Auflage von 6,000 Stück ab dem 7. Jahrgang, 1933.

Volume 4, 1930 signed and bound by [apprentice] in 1931. This volume also has notes regarding missing inserts, like the page below with samples tipped on.
Der 4. Jahrgang, 1930 signiert und datiert vom [Lehrling] 1931.
Dieser Band hat auch Notizen zu fehlenden Beilagen wie die unten.

Also from volume 4, an example of the tipped-in inserts that could be found in almost all volumes.  I've been very lucky in that only a few seem to be missing. This one is for Japanese papers, including a wood veneer at bottom right.
Auch vom 4. Jahrgang, ein Beispiel der Beilagen die in fast jedem Jahrgang zu finden waren. Ich hatte großen Glück in daß ich fast alle anscheinend habe. Diese ist für japanische Papiere, inkl. ein Furnierholz.

Quarter-cloth with paper sides; loose as issued in wrappers and untrimmed.

Halb-Leinen mit Papier; broschiert und unbeschnitten im Papierumschlag.

Volume 9 - 10, 1935 - 1937; volume 11, 1937 - 1938.
9-10 Jahrgänge, 1935 - 1937; 11. Jg., 1937 - 1938.
Volume 9 - 10, 1935 - 1937, bound 1942 during the first year as an apprentice.
9-10 Jahrgänge, 1935 - 1937, gebunden 1942 während des ersten Lehrjahrs.

Illustrations from article about wrapper designs in volume 10, 1936 - 1937.
Abbildungen aus einen Aufsatz über Umschlagsentwürfe aus dem 10. Jg., 1936 - 1937.

Two millimeter bindings, one with pastepaper sides, the other with paper marbled using oil paints.

Zwei Edelpappbände, eins mit Kleisterpapier, das Andere mit Öltunkpapier.

Volume 12, 1938 - 1939; volume 13, 1939 - 1941.
12. Jahrgang, 1938 - 1939; 13. Jg., 1940 - 1941.

Volume 12, 1938 - 1939, was missing the first 4 pages... Interlibrary loan was able to provide those.
Beim 12. Jahrgang, 1938 - 1939, fehlten die ersten 4 Seiten... Die Fernleihabteilung konnte helfen.

Here perhaps the reason – Hitler's 50th Birthday.
Hier vielleicht der Grund – Hitlers 50. Geburtstag.

Three more millimeter bindings with pastepaper sides.
Noch drei Edelpappbände mit Kleisterpapier bezogen.

Volume 14, 1940 - 1941; Volume 15, 1941 - 1942; Volume 16, 1942 - 1943.
14. Jahrgang, 1939 - 1940; 15. Jg., 1941 - 1942; 16. Jg., 1942 - 1943.

All three volumes had the same owner's stamp. On the facing page announcement of the annual apprentice binding competition with the Buchbinderlehrling as the set book.
Alle 3 Jahrgänge hatten den selben Stempel vom Besitzer. Auf der Gegenseite, die Ankündigung des jahrlichen Lehrlingswettbewerb mit dem Buchbinderlehrling as Pflichtband.

Note 8/17/2014: The owner's stamp says "C. A. Brede, Hundestr. 11," and several of the other books have a dealer note with "C.A. Brede." Just thought to do a search on Brede and "Hundestr 11" brought me to a list, part of a wider site of "who knows what"conspiracy theories and rants against free masons and service organizations like Rotary and Lions...

Notize 17.8.2014: Der Besitzerstempel gibt "C. A. Brede, Hundestr. 11" an, und einige der anderen Bände eine Notize vom Antiquar mit "C.A. Brede." Eine Google Suche von Brede und "Hundestr 11" brachte mich zu einer liste die Teil einer Webseite mit Links zu lauter Verschwörungstheorien, unter anderem gegen Freimaurer und Vereinigungen wie Rotary und Lions.
Brede, Carl-August, Wakenitzufer 14, Lübeck, Buchbindermeister
Haase, Albert, Hundestr. 11, Lübeck, Buchbindermeister, - Zum Füllhorn -, 1945 Bibliothekar (Worked for the/Arbeitete für die Stadtbibliothek Lübeck)

Math for bookbinders. On the facing page the familiar way of depicting how to place raised cords on the spines.
Fachrechnen für Buchbinder. Auf der Gegenseite Bündeeinteilung für Halbfranzbandrücken.

The Buchbinderlehrling ceased publication after volume 16, 1943. After the War, Das Falzbein appeared as the journal for apprentices.

Mit dem 16. Jahrgang, 1943 war mit dem Buchbinderlehrling schluß. Nach dem Krieg erschien Das Falzbein als die Fachzeitschrift für Lehrlinge.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ernst Collin on Gerhard Gerlach, 1930

Received one of my interlibrary loan requests today, an article by Ernst Collin about bindings being exhibited by Meister der Einbandkunst at the Bugra exhibition in Leipzig. The Bugra was THE most significant publishing and binding trade fair in Germany at that time.

In the article titled Die alte, neue Bugramesse: Was die Meister der Einbandkunst zeigten,Collin described the refocusing of the Bugra back to its roots and away from a more general trades oriented exhibition.He also provided context for the Bugra and among other things commented on the contrast between the high art of French binding and the dominance of simple paperback bindings on poor paper for the majority of trade books.

Then there was this still new group, Meister der Einbandkunst, with a modest exhibition of bindings by established binders and lesser known members. Given the limited space available to him, Collin focused on several binders chosen in no particular order of significance in order to highlight their work. Among them Gerhard Gerlach who emigrated to the US with his American wife Katheryn. From the retrospective part of the Guild of Book Workers 100th Anniversary Exhibition:
Gerhard Gerlach was born in 1907 in Germany, apprenticed to a binder for three years and studied with Ignatz Wiemeler at the State Academy of Graphic Arts in Leipzig, attaining his certificate and diploma as a master binder before emigrating to the United States. He was brought to the USA by a young American he met at the Academy, Katheryn Edwards. Together they formed a remarkable bookbinding team, crafting not only fine bindings but fine binders. Upon arriving in the USA in 1934, he taught at Columbia University. At his Bookbinding Workshop, opened in 1945, he partnered for a short while with Hope G. Weil and later Charlotte Ullman. Among his students were Eva Clarke, Margaret Lecky, Inez Pennybacker, Hope Weil, Arno Werner, and Laura Young. Gerhard Gerlach joined the Guild in 1939 remaining a member until his death in 1968. To honor his contributions, the Guild mounted a memorial exhibition of his bindings at the Grolier Club in 1971.
Here an edited composite of the Collin article with the section on Gerlach.

Die alte, neue Bugramesse: Was die Meister der Einbandkunst zeigten,
Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, Vol 45, Nr 12, 1930 (244-245)

Given the significance of the Bugra and Gerlach's connection to Wiemeler I searched online to see if any bindings were depicted. Like winning the lotto, all the Gerlach bindings happened to be for sale very recently and were depicted at Peter L. Masi – books (along with many other bindings). With permission I reproduce them here with Collin's translated comments.

Design study for Hegel, Delius, Seinen Briefen

Hegel, Delius, Seinen Briefen, 1918, #54, bound by Gerhard Gerlach

Of Hegel, Delius, Seinen Briefen, 1918, #54, Collin wrote "that the binding is divided into two sets of parallel panels in which the outside ones have tightly spaced parallel lines tooled in blind. This allows the grain of the leather to stand out more in the untooled panels, but unfortunately the denseness of the tooled lines obscure the natural grain of the leather."

 Collin also singles out the remaining bindings below for the way in which the leather, the design of the bindings, and the tooling whether blind or gold. stand out positively.

Hofmannsthal, Deutsche Epigramme, Munchen, 1923, #83, bound by Gerhard Gerlach

Carl Burckhardt, Kleinasiatische Reise, Munchen, 1925, bound by Gerhard Gerlach

von Aue, Borchardt, Der arme Heinrich, Munchen, 1925

He concludes by saying that this young binder has shown himself to be a "hope awakening personality" for the future.

The work of Wiemeler and Dorfner was part of the "new objectivity" (neue Sachlichkeit) that was  "Americanism, cult of the objective, the hard fact, the predilection for functional work, professional conscientiousness, and usefulness." To the Nazis it was degenerate, but even then the style was adapted well to serve their "need" for presentation bindings and other accessories, but that is a story for another time.

The Gerhard & Kathryn Gerlach collection was recently sold by Peter L. Masi Books and those wishing to study the bindings, artwork, correspondence... will want to travel to Indiana University's Lilly Library in Bloomington - a most fitting home. Give them time to process and catalog first though - it was just acquired.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Renate Mesmer on her Apprenticeship in Germany

Renate at AAB
Listen to Renate Mesmer, Eric Weinmann Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. talk with Steve Miller at the OxBow PBI about her bookbinding apprenticeship in Germany.

Previously, she was Assistant Head of Conservation at the Folger, Director of Book and Paper Conservation at the Centro del bel Libro Ascona, Switzerland, and Head of Conservation at the Speyer’s State Archives in Germany. She, like many apprentices of the day started at  age 16, earning her Meister in bookbinding from the Chamber of Crafts of Palatinate in Germany. She has been very active teaching at Paper and Book Intensive (PBI), for the Guild of Book Workers (GBW), American Academy of Bookbinding (AAB), and elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Just completed the long-overdue binding on Eight Wood Engravings On A Theme Of Pan (Northampton: Pennyroyal Press, 1980) with wood engravings by Barry Moser. A delightful well-proportioned smallish book printed in an edition of 130 copies. The text is made up of six epigrams from the Anthologia Graeca, which Moser loosely translates in his afterword. Set in Goudy Greek (12pt. to 36pt.) in 3 or 4 colors, and punctuated with original brush calligraphy by Betse Curtis. Printed on handmade Japanese Etching paper; engravings on sheets of Sekishu.

From the description of this book at The Veatchs, Arts of the Book.

Description: Dorfner/de Gonet "open joint" style binding. Text sewn on two reinforced leather tapes; bottom and fore-edge left uncut with graphite top edge; black leather endband; spine covered in snake-skin; "O'Malley Crackle" flyleaves; boards covered in Pergamena goat vellum with design taken from illustrations underneath; "O'Malley Crackle" doublures and roundels on front of boards. Housed in Layered Indigo Night semi-soft slipcase.

Cave Paper "O'Malley Crackle" flyleaves and doublures.

Semi-soft slipcase of Cave Paper "Layered Indigo Night" with gold stamped snake-skin label.

Overall showing snake-skin spine, "O'Malley Crackle" roundels,
with design taken from illustrations underneath Pergamena goat vellum.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Buchbinderei in Kontext

Several years ago I found this image floating around the web with no attribution, date, or description but was immediately drawn to it because of the stark imagery, the decay, and the fact that it was (once?) a bindery... Liked it so much I used it as my Facebook banner until today.

Searching in Flickr just now, I found another image of the same bindery, in color no less, that provides a bit more context in the form of the concrete protrusion at the top right. Image below by Markus Mayer from 2009 with the same graffiti and a similar reflection of a Plattenbau in the windows...

Flickr had a few more images of it such as this one that clearly show a railroad trestle above... A bit more searching brought me to Berlin, right near the iconic (for train geeks) Jannowitzbrücke and the Berlin Stadtbahn. This is along the Spree in what was once East Berlin.

A link to a quiz of the "where is this" sort provided a bit of history from a genealogy forum. This indicated that this was once the Buchbinderei Scholz. Interesting story for those that can read German ending with success in tracking down a relation/ancestor.

Click Google Maps Street View to view this July 2008 image,
spin image around to see the reflecting Plattenbau...
The TV tower at the Alexanderplatz is at right.
Click Google Maps Street View to view this July 2008 image,
spin image around to see the reflecting Plattenbau...

Would love to have a bindery at that somewhat desolate location. Combine two passions in one location, books and trains.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Millimeter Binding (Edelpappband)

The German-style millimeter binding (Edelpappband) is the "ennobled" version of the paper-covered case binding and should not be confused with the equally elegant but fundamentally different Danish millimeter binding (link to John Hyltoft: Danish Millimeter Binding from GBW Standards 1995). I described the case-bound German version of the millimeter binding in The Bonefolder, Volume 1, No. 2, Spring 2005, and Renate Mesmer the "in boards" version at the GBW Standards in 2005.

Ernst Collin discussed aspects of this binding on "Wednesday" in his Pressbengel, link to the English Bone Folder at left.

See also the 2005 Bonefolder Edelpappband / “Millimeter” Binding Bind-O-Rama where readers explored this structure, many for the first time.

Below are some maquettes I made to illustrate the covering stages for the version with the narrow leather edge along top and bottom (or fore-edges) and the version with invisible corners.

Below a diagram showing some of the design variants possible.

Overall images of the three books above

The Enchiridon of Epictetus, Press Intermezzo, 1997.

Edelpappband / millimeter binding: Endpapers of red Roma paper; top edge gilt; endband of pastepaper around thread core, vellum trim along top and bottom edges; covered in hand-made pastepaper; title in gold on front cover. 16.5 x 12 x 1cm. Bound 2005.

Saturday Night, 1953 / The Elements, Angorfa Press, 1998.

Edelpappband / millimeter binding: Sewn on 3 ramie tapes; plain endsheets same as text; solid graphite edges; red eel-skin leather endbands; "millimeter / edelpappband" case covered in original pastepaper by binder with blue eel-skin leather trim at head, tail, and along foreedges; title stamped in black on spine. 18 x 13 x .7cm. Bound 2003. The book, in the "Cased Binding" category, was awarded the Harmatan Leather Award for Forwarding in the Society of Bookbinders' 2003 Bookbinding Competition.

Fritz and Trudi Eberhardt, Rules for Bookbinders, The Boss Dog Press, 2003.

Edelpappband / millimeter binding: Endpapers same as text; top edge in graphite and burnished; dark red leather endband around thread core; vellum trim at head/tail caps with invisible corners; covered in handmade pastepaper; title in graphite on front cover. Soft “Ascona-style” slipcase covered in paper to match book with title in graphite on spine. 18 x 12.5 x 1cm. Bound 2005.
Other examples can be seen among the bindings here.