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.

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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Ernst

Today would have been Ernst Collins' 128th Birthday, and the past year has been a busy one.

Based in part on work done to disambiguate him from "the other Ernst," Ernst Collin-Schönfeld, we were able to honor his memory with the dedication of Stolpersteine for him and his wife on 4.1.2014 in front of his last chosen home in Berlin-Wilmersdorf.

An corrected and expanded biography of Ernst and his father and grandfather based largely on articles by Ernst was written to accompany the Stolpersteine.

Photo Gerhard Schumm, 1.4.2014

His bibliography has grown to over 230 articles not just about bookbinding, but also art in general, economics, and politics. Also found were references to publishing on bookbinding by his sister Gertrude Kampf-Collin who took over the family firm. This also included helping correct his "name authority record" in the catalog of the German National Library.

A fine press edition of my translation of Der Pressbengel (The Bone Folder) with the corrected/expanded biography will be published by the Boss Dog Press with work beginning during the fall.

A bibliography with  corrected/expanded biography is in preparation and will be made available in German and English as POD and online.

The NPO "Research Society for Book History and Conservation" in Nara, Japan is preparing to translate The Bone Folder into Japanese, something I very much look forward to working on with them.

In other "family news" I was able to discover 135 titles bound by the firm of W. Collin in the catalog of the Syracuse University Libraries, and all in the v. Ranke Collection. This was indicated by a note that said "Binder's label: W. Collin." and 3 cases "Binder's label:  W. Collin, K.K. Hofbuchbinder, Berlin."

Click on image to see the small label at bottom left in its original size.
All tickets were pasted to the verso of the front flyleaf.

All articles relating to Ernst Collin and his family have also been group via the Collins link at the top of the left sidebar.

Alles gute zum Geburtstag Ernst.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Glue Pots

The glue smells really peculiar today... [mustard]
From the Falzbein (December 1959, Heft 9, 12Jahrgang)

I remember seeing this and doing it during my apprenticeship. I did not get to eat the sausage, the Meister grabbed it first. Evidently he knew the prank, too...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stolpersteine for Ernst and Else Collin

Family members examine the stones before they are laid into the walk.
Photo Gerhard Schumm, 4.1.2014

Photo Gerhard Schumm, 4.1.2014

On April 1, 2014 two Stolpersteine (Stumbling Blocks) were laid to memorialize Ernst Collin and his wife Else (nee Cronheim) in front of the entrance to their home at Cicerostr 61 in Berlin. Stolpersteine are “monuments created by Gunter Demnig that commemorate victims of the Holocaust. They are small, cobblestone-sized memorials for an individual victim of Nazism – both those who died and survivors – who were consigned by the Nazis to prisons, euthanasia facilities, sterilization clinics, concentration camps, and extermination camps, as well as those who responded to persecution by emigrating or committing suicide.” The “stones” record the name of the individual, their birthday, and their fate. In Berlin the Koordinierungsstelle Stolpersteine works together with Stolperstein Initiatives in the various city districts, in this case Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.

Ernst as editor, apartment on the ground floor
From the Adreßbuch for Berlin, 1929

Ernst Collin, born on 31.5.1886 was the son and grandson of court bookbinders to the Prussian Kings and German Emperors. His grandfather W(ihelm) Collin (12.7.1820 – 1893) was the son of a [Beuthener/Bytom] physician Isaac Collin and Blümche (geb. Kircheim) who moved to Berlin in 1832 [Kaiserstr 13, Berliner Addressbuch]. Wilhelm apprenticed with the Prussian Court Bookbinder Mossner in Berlin  1835-40, and is shown as starting his own bindery in Berlin in 1845. He was later awarded the Preussischer Kronenorden.

Binder's ticket ca. 1886-1887 from a volume at the
Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library.

Ernst’s father Max Georg Collin  (10.22.1851 - 12.24.1918) followed in his father’s footstep learning the trade with the Meister Hunzinger, followed by journeyman years in Vienna, Paris, London (with Zaehnsdorf), among others. He returned to Berlin to work in the family firm. During the winters between 1873 and 1875 he instructed Prince Heinrich (brother of later Kaiser Wilhelm II) in bookbinding.  An anecdote from this experience is his response to complaints from the court about smelly glue – his response, well we can’t put Eau de Cologne in it, and that was that. [Bedeutende Männer des Buchbinderhandwerks, Der Buchbinderlehrling, 6. Jg., Nr 9, 1932] From 1878-1881 he studied painting at the Berliner Kunstakademie. In 1886 he became co-owner of the firm W. Collin, continuing it after the death of his father in 1893. Georg Collin was one of the leading binders in Germany, helping to revitalize the artistic expression of the craft with his prize-winning bindings and “Addressen,”  presentation portfolios for decrees and other official pronouncements. Among the binders who credit Georg as their Meister are Paul Kersten and Maria Lühr. Lühr apprenticed with W. Collin, and it was Georg’s connection to the German court that ultimately led to the breakdown of prohibitions against women learning the trade and practicing as Meister, something for which Ernst was also a strong advocate. Like his father Wilhelm, Georg was awarded the Kronenorden and was the last to carry the title of Königlicher und Kaiserlicher Hofbuchbinder. He had three children with his wife Regina: Gertrude, who learned the family trade and carried on the family business, Elsa, and a son Ernst 31.5.1886.  After Georg’s Death on 24.12.1918, his widow Regina continued to manage the firm of W. Collin until Gertrude took over. After 1930 the firm was continued as 1930 Spezialbetrieb fur Druckarbeiten unter Paetsch & Collin. The firm moved about in Berlin over the years, finally settling along the Kurfürstenstr.  It was “liquidated” in 1939.

Following in the family tradition, Ernst learned the trade of bookbinder. Where he apprenticed is not known, but he describes studying with Gustav Slaby and Paul Kersten at the Berliner Buchbinderfachschule Klasse für Kunstbuchbinderei for a semester in 1904 – he  was a student in the first class. Ernst, however, chose to follow a different path, that of writer in particular for the arts of the book and graphic arts. His first as yet discovered articles appeared in Volume 3 (1907-08) of Die Werkkunst: Zeitschrift des Vereins für deutsches Kunstgewerbe and identify him as "Ernst Collin, Kunstbuchbinder" (Fine Bookbinder). He was also a journalist and art critic, writing on topics relating to economics and politics, as well as an antiquarian bookseller of fine press books via his Corvinus - Antiquariat Ernst Collin, located at Mommsenstr 27 in Charlottenburg.In addition, he was on the editorial board of the Berliner Volkszeitung.

The list of his publications continues to grow having begun with 44 titles between Mejer’s Bibliographie der Buchbindereiliteratur (1925) and the 1937 volume of the Meister der Einbandkunst’s Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst, to over 200 with significant gaps in the chronology that hint at a far greater professional output.

His first book was Buchbinderei für den Hausbedarf ([1915]) a manual of basic bookbinding aimed at laypeople. His iconic Pressbengel was published in 1922 and was followed by his biographical Festschrift Paul Kersten (1925) in honor of his 60th birthday. Kersten was one of the most seminal German fine bookbinders, and his Der Exakte Bucheinband (1923) helped define German fine binding Ernst also wrote essays for Festschrifts published by the highly regarded  trade binderies. These were Vom guten Geschmack und von der Kunstbuchbinderei  for the Spamersche Buchbinderei, Leipzig (1918) and Fünfzig Jahre deutscher Verlegereinband  for Hübel & Denck (1925). He was also the publisher of and author of numerous articles in Die Heftlade (1922-24), the journal of the Jakob-Krausse-Bund, an organization that was absorbed into Meister der Einbandkunst, a group that included the most significant names in German bookbinding of the late 19th and early 20th century, among them Paul Adam, Otto Dorfner, Paul Kersten, and Franz Weiße. Collin also edited and wrote in the Jakob-Krausse-Bund’s 1921 exhibition catalog, Deutsche Einbandkunst. Degeners Wer Ist's (10th Ed., Berlin, 1935) also gives pseudonymes Collenoni and Nicoll for him, but no writings under these names have been discovered as yet.

His articles were published in at least 36 periodicals and serials between 1907 and 1936, among them Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien; Archiv für Buchbinderei; Archiv für Buchgewerbe; Börsenblatt für den deutschen Buchhandel; Buch und Bild: Berliner Herbstschau im Staatlichen Kunstgewerbe-Museum 1921; Das Echo: das Blatt der deutschen im Auslande; Das Plakat: Zeitschrift des Vereins der Plakatfreunde e.V.; Der Buchbinderlehrling; Der Kinematograph; Der Kunstwanderer; Der Papier-Markt; Der Qualitätsmarkt; Der Sammler; Der Sturm; Deutsche Frauenkleidung und Frauenkultur; Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration; Deutsche Verleger Zeitung; Deutsch-nordisches Jahrbuch für Kulturaustausch und Volkskunde; Die Heftlade: Zeitschrift für die Förderer des Jakob-Krausse-Bundes; Die Kunst: Monatshefte für freie und angewandte Kunst; Die Werkkunst: Zeitschrift des Vereins für deutsches Kunstgewerbe in Berlin; Gutenberg Festschrift; Gutenberg Jahrbuch; Moderne Buchbinderei; Sammlerkabinet; Scherls Magazin; Tägliche Rundschau; Textile Kunst und Industrie; Verhandlungen, Vereins zur Beförderung des Gewerbefleisses; Volksverbandes der Bücherfreunde; Westermanns Monatshefte; Zeitschrift des Deutschen Vereins für Buchwesen und Schrifttum; Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde; Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde. N. F.; Zeitschrift für Neue und Alte Kunst, Graphik, Kunstgewerbe; Zur guten Stunde.

Der Pressbengel (1922) dedicated to his father Georg is Collin’s best-known work. It was later republished by the Mandragora Verlag (1984) with an introduction by Gustav Moessner, and later translated into Italian as Dal Rilegatore d’Arte (1996). A translation into English as The Bone Folder by Peter D. Verheyen first appeared in the Guild of Book Workers Journal (2009). Der Pressbengel is a dialogue between a bibliophile and a master bookbinder on all aspects of the bookbinding craft as well as specific techniques. Throughout the work, Collin himself is very frank in addressing the conflicts between quality and cost, as well as the positive and negative impacts of “machines” throughout the work.

The introduction to the 1984 republication of Der Pressbengel stated that Ernst Collin was considered lost after 1933. Despite the ever-tightening spiral of restrictions on his work by the Nazis, first in the form of the Schriftleitergesetz that removed him from his editorial positions and later laws that eliminated his ability to work, Collin continued to write for the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien at least until 1936 when he wrote on article on “Otto Pfaffs 25 jähriges Berufsjubiläum.”

Ernst Collin was also politically active, being listed as a contributor to Die Deutsche Nation: Eine Zeitschrift für Politik, along with the great bibliophile Graf Harry Keßler. The publication that was aligned with the Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP), a center-left social liberal party whose members included among others, Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, party leader Friedrich Naumann, and Theodor Heuss who would become the first President of the German Federal Republic in 1949.

The 1947 issue of the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, the first published after the war included a notice (Randbemerkung) about the Collins (W. Collin, Georg Collin, and Ernst) in which it gave a brief history of these individuals and their work, also mentioning that Ernst had written for this publication for decades, and that as a Jew he had tried to emigrate in 1939, leaving a letter with the publishers. Nothing was heard from him thereafter.

From the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, Bd 60, Nr. 5, 1947 (S. 68-69)

During his life, Ernst lived at Sachsenwaldstr 25 in Stegliz, moving to Cicerostr 61 in Wilmersdorf in 1929.

Unfortunately, nothing is yet known about his wife Else Collin (nee Cronheim, born 18 March, 1890). The couple had no children.

The Gedenkbuch Berlins der jüdischen Opfer des Nazionalsozialismus (Freie Universitaet Berlin, Zentralinstitut fuer sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung, Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1995) shows Ernst and Else Collin as being deported to Auschwitz on 12.9.1942 where they were murdered.

Photo Gerhard Schumm, 4.1.2014

Stolpersteine for Ernst und Else Collin, Wiki photos by "OTFW"

The Stolpersteine were sponsored by his surviving great-niece, Dr. Rita Jenny Kuhn; Dr. Kuhn’s daughter, Ruth C. Wiseman; and by Peter D. Verheyen. Dr. Kuhn is the author of Broken Glass, Broken Lives (Barany Publishing Co., 2012), a memoir of her survival in Berlin during the Second World War. Verheyen translated Der Pressbengel into English.

Working together with Ruth to honor Ernst and Else this way has given my interest in Ernst and his writings as well as the Collins a much deeper meaning that has touched me, and for which I am thankful.

The pictures below were taken April 3rd. The flowers are still there.

Photo Regina. Klein

Photo Regina. Klein
See also The Story of Two Ernsts, clarifying the details of Ernst Collins' life and death; disambiguation of the Ernst Collin discussed here and  Ernst Heinrich Collin-Schoenfeld.

In addition to the sources cited in the post above, the following were also important: