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 few in German at the time 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, one that will allow those without full binderies to learn to construct a variety of bindings and other structures.

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