Showing posts with label Pressbengel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pressbengel. Show all posts

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ernst Collin's Pressbengel Appears in Japanese (Pressbengel jetzt auf Japanisch)

Very delighted today to see Ernst Collin's Pressbengel translated into Japanese and appear on the web pages of the "Laboratory for Preservation, Conservation, and Restoration." I had been contacted by Ms Satoko Noro last May about translating the work into Japanese based on my English translation as The Bone Folder, and was very pleased to say yes, because I feel the text has much to offer bookbinders and bibliophiles everywhere, and that it still as relevant as when first published in 1922. Their interest, the upcoming Boss Dog Press fine press edition with John (Hans) Schiff photographs taken at the Bremer Press, and my bibliography of Ernst Collin's writings, gave me the big push I needed to rewrite the introduction to my translation to that incorporates much of my research into the Collins.

Ich war höchst erfreut heute zu sehen das Ernst Collins Pressbengel jetzt auf Japanisch auf den Webseiten der "Laboratory for Preservation, Conservation, and Restoration" erschienen ist. Im letzten Mai wurde ich from Frau Satoko Noro angeschrieben mit der Bitte um Erlaubnis meine englische Übersetzung des Bone Folder ins Japanische zu übersetzen. Natürlich stimmte ich zu, insbesonders weil ich der Meinung bin das Collins Text Buchbinder und Bibliophilen viel zu bieten hat und noch so relevant ist wie zur Ersterscheinung in 1922. Diese Anfrage hat mir auch viel Ansporn gegeben mich intensiv an die neue Einleitung zur Pressendruckausgabe der Boss Dog Press mit photos von Hans Schiff, aufgenommen bei der Bremer Presse, sowie meiner Bibliographie von Collins Schriften zu begeben. Diese neue Einleitung beinhaltet viele der Findungen zu den Collins und einen korrigierten Lebenslauf von Ernst Collin...

The Japanese translation appears in serialized form on their website, with the first monthly installment appearing just days ago. The translation is illustrated with photographs of bookbinding tools and bindings. Below a screen-grab of the first installment. A Google translation can be linked to here.

Die japanische Übersetzung wird in monatlichen Folgen auf NPOs Webseiten veröffentlicht, und ist mit Abbildungen von buchbinderischen Werkzeugen und Einbänden illustriert. Unten ein Bild von der ersten Folge auf deren Webseite. Die Google Übersetzung gibts hier.

There is also discussion of a more permanent (downloadable for reading or binding/Print-on-Demand), something I would love to see. Regardless, it is wonderful to see this level of interest in Ernst Collin's text, other writings, and family, this based on referring URL statistics from Japan and elsewhere.

Es ist auch die Rede davon das ganze als dauerhafteres PDF zum Einbinden oder zum Lesen oder als Print-on-Demand zu veröffentlichen. Würde dies sehr gerne sehen, aber bin auf jeden Fall sehr froh über die Interesse an Ernst Collins Text, seine anderen Schriften, und an der Familie zu sehen wenn man aus Japan kommenden Webseitenanalytics betrachtet.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pressbengel in Czech, 1925

Back more intently to my Ernst Collin bibliography project, I've been finding more writings in new to me publications published both under his name and some of his pseudonyms (more about those in another post). During those searches I came across a title in Czech I had not seen before, even in WorldCat searches:

Google elegantly translates this as "Wrench: The book talks between the aesthetic bibliophile and bookbinder on the blade forged." Regardless. After further searches in WorldCat, located a total of two records, one at the Czech National Library, the other at the Bavarian State Library. The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek does not have a copy. I had also not seen it in Mejer (1925) or Mejer/Herbst (1933), Bibliographie der Buchbindereiliteratur

However, Mejer did show two articles by him in Vetrinka, a Czechoslovakian periodical – "Rozhovor o polo francouzske vazbe" and "Rozhovor o vazbe knih." Both articles from 1923/24, but Mejer didn't provide a better citation. Any Czech spekers who can help with good translations of these titles please use the Comment form at bottom. Thank you.

Here the bibliographic information for the book.
Author:          Ernst Collin
Publisher:      Praha : [Translated by Arthur Novák], 1925
Series  Title:  Knihy o knihách, Svazek 1. [Books about books, Volume 1]
Description:  52 pp., 1 "list;" 8°
Published as part of  series, it was nice to see that this was the first volume - very fitting.

I located a few copies in the Czech Republic, so using Google Translate I wrote to the dealer and asked if available... Book arrived about a week later, i.e. today.

Prag, 1925
Books about books / First Volume

From the colophon at right:
This book was translated and published at his own expense [by]
Arthur Novak in Prague. [It was] printed [by] Kryl and Scotti
in Novem Jicín in Moravia in [an edition of] 540 copies;
Of those 40 [are on] Zanders handmade paper

So, this is one of the un-numbered 500 copies.

And here with its "siblings" including the 1922 original, various Mandragora German reprints, the Italian and my English translations, and other publications Collin was involved with.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Bone Folder, con't (About stiffened paper bindings)

It has been some time since our Bibliophile and Bookbinder had their last conversation about bookbinding and the trade. In the spirit of Collin and his Bone Folder (Der Pressbengel) I  continue that conversation to draw in some German binding styles not included in the original text but of that time. I invite you to join the conversation in the "comments" section below, too.

From Marburg, Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

Several months later…

BOOKBINDER: Hello. What brings you back so soon? I haven’t even begun working on the books you dropped off after our last conversation about bookbinding. How is your book about our conversations coming along? Is it done yet? (chuckles)

BIBLIOPHILE: Don’t laugh. I’ve been working on it constantly and the more I do so the more questions I have. I had no idea there were so many facets to bookbinding and even art. As I was looking through some reference books at home and at the library I came across some bindings that you did not tell me about, perhaps because they are too common and beneath a binder of your reputation. Yet, as I was pondering them they struck me as perhaps the most honest in how they were made and are used.

BOOKBINDER: Really, this could be very interesting. Do you have examples with you?

BIBLIOPHILE: Not of both, but I do have an example of the smaller one in my coat pocket. It is very simple binding on a trade publication, comfortable to hold, not too delicate, unadorned, and very affordable. I have seen it used for school books, notebooks, address books and never really paid any attention to how they were made. But since our conversations I find myself critically looking at anything resembling a book. You have opened my eyes more than I could have imagined when we first met.

BOOKBINDER: Hmmm, yes that is a stiffened paper binding [Steifbroschure]. We, and by that I mean the trade, use it often for ephemeral items, or as an interim binding for something that book lovers like you might want to have bound properly. Although I am familiar with them and made one during my apprenticeship, it is not something I am interested in producing in my bindery – I usually refer them to a colleague who specialized in more modest, less expensive bindings. He also does work for some of the libraries in the area. I suppose they do have their place though.

BIBLIOPHILE: Tell me more about them so that I may understand your aversion to them. I could see them as a very useful binding for many books that may not be worthy of a fancier binding.

BOOKBINDER: Well, there are many reasons, but the main reason is that the structure is weaker and looks cheaper when compared to a “real” binding.

Often, especially for things that are to be rebound properly like a finely printed text, this minimal structure is appropriate in the short term, but what happens if it is never bound? If “holländern” [a very rudimentary form of sewing a text that originated in Holland [PDV1] is used the sewing is very weak and the only thing holding the text together is glue and a single thread. Then, we often use a very thin calico cloth that is glued directly to the spine to cover with everything else being paper. The cheapest ones may not even cover the thin boards – not a very durable combination. That may not matter, but why not bind the book properly from the beginning?

BIBLIOPHILE: As always Master you make good points, but what if I want to read the text and think about it before asking you to bind it. Wouldn’t it be better to have it protected at least that little bit?

BOOKBINDER: Perhaps… For the other types of “books” you mentioned such as school books, notebooks, address books it may well not matter much if they do not last. Still, there are simple ways we can use to make them stronger. We could, for example, sew them on tapes, and stiffen the boards with thin card. Perhaps one could even use a stronger cloth on the spine, perhaps with a nice decorated paper, or one could cover the whole book in cloth and just turn in at the fore-edges. But even then, why not bind properly?

BIBLIOPHILE: That is very interesting and gives me ideas. Still, I believe that you are right in saying that the binding is not very durable. That would also mean one shouldn’t use it for larger or heavier books. In that case I agree that one should just bind it properly to begin with. But, don’t you think that the style has its place in your selection of tools? I am trying to remember who it was, but I recently read in one of your trade publications that "'good enough’ is sometimes an appropriate, and even a noble goal, not an abomination.“ [PDV2]  I think it was in the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien. Don’t you think that might be the case with these unassuming bindings?

BOOKBINDER: I suppose you might be right, but there is a reason that these stiffened paper bindings are not described very often in our bookbinding manuals. Often one does not even need to know how to bind a book in order to make one. Even a printer could make one – a trade that often does not even understand the importance of grain direction.

Here, look at the example you brought. You can see that the endpaper is nothing more than a single leaf that has been hooked around the first signature. Then the sewing is very weak, the holländern I mentioned earlier. Then, the boards are only thin pieces of card like that used for file folders, how much protection can they offer. Also, the thin cloth is adhered directly to the spine. See how the cloth on the spine is starting to fray at the spine. It is not even turned in or reinforced as in the case of a proper binding. There are not even squares to protect the textblock like we have on even the most basic paper-covered case binding. Imagine what would happen if it was covered in nothing but a thin paper…

BIBLIOPHILE: I apologize if I am causing you distress, but I am very eager to learn and understand all I can about your beautiful craft and the trade. You have work to do, and I must go. I will try to stop by again soon with that other style of binding I wanted to learn about. Until then…

Several weeks later…

BIBLIOPHILE: Hello Master! Thank you for sending your apprentice over with the first of the books you bound for me. I am completely enamored with the delicate paper case bindings you made for my collection of poems. The pastepaper harmonizes beautifully with the delicate leather trim on the spine – headcaps you called them? – and the corners. Here is my payment. Unfortunately I was on my way out when he came by and couldn’t pay then.

BOOKBINDER: I am delighted that you are pleased with the binding. It is a style I truly love for its honest simplicity, especially when well done.

I’ve been thinking more about our earlier conversation – the one about those stiffened paper bindings. I was especially struck by your comment about something “good enough” being an appropriate goal. It is a very basic binding, one that is very easy and economical to make. That doesn’t mean it can’t be well made with almost the same amount of effort. When I was making a delivery to a very good client, a professor with a large library and many students, I noticed several books on a table that were bound in that way. Of the ones I saw that even the oldest one from the 1860s, a dissertation., It wasn’t pretty, thin cloth on the spine with boards undecorated except for the front of the wrapper that had been glued on, but had held up quite well with seemingly heavy use. Then I noticed others with marbled papers and other combinations of materials. I admit with a sense of chagrin that they have grown on me as an acceptable style of binding that I could see producing in my bindery. A nice economical alternative that could appeal to many who would like something very basic yet attractive. I will need to experiment so that I can discover the many variations that are possible. It would even be useful for my apprentices to learn. They even teach it in trade school now because of that Professor Adam (1849-1931) in Düsseldorf. He has spent a great part of his life trying to change how we train apprentices, and what they learn. It might even be something I could offer my clients in a more distinctive version. I do need to be careful about my reputation, especially in this economy.

BIBLIOPHILE: I’m sorry, but I must rush out. Next time I will remember to bring that other book I wanted to ask about. It’s rather strange style of binding – one I have not encountered before.

BOOKBINDER: Until then, and hopefully I will have finished some more of your books. I thank you for this conversation and making me challenge my assumptions.

  • [PDV1] Ludwig Brade, Emil Winkler, Das illustrierte Buchbinderbuch heißt es im 23. Abschnitt über Broschüren: "Durch das Heften der Broschüren bezweckt man die inneren Lagen der Bogen beim Aufschneiden derselben fest zu halten, damit sie nicht herausfallen, deshalb wird es so einfach als möglich ausgeführt und zwar auf die Art, welche man holländern nennt. Diese Bezeichnung hat ihren Ursprung darin, daß man jene Heftart zuerst in Holland anwendete und sie später auch in andere Länder überging.
  •  [PDV2] Karen Hanmer in an email to the author about this binding style. 4/26/2012.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bone Folder used as textblock in workshops

Very nice to see the Bone Folder being used in a workshop setting, this time in Nova Scotia on July 9 as part of Susan Mills' Full Tilt Single Session Bookbinding Classes.When I made this edition available as downloadable signatures it was my hope to see it being used this way. Glad to see it happening. If anyone else is using it in a similar way, or just binding it for themselves I'd love to see the outcomes so feel free to send me a picture or two.To download the signatures see the sidebar at left.Images below from Susan's site.

Class photo from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University Summer Book Arts Workshop.
Photo: Eliot Wright NSCAD 2011
Susan Mills is a traditionally trained bookbinder in private practice since 1990. She is passionate about bookbinding education and has taught thousands of people to bind books in both institutional and alternative settings. She is on the faculty of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University in Nova Scotia, is a 2011 visiting instructor at Pratt Institute, regularly teaches hand bookbinding at Cooper Union Continuing Education and serves on the board of the not-for-profit The Center for Book Arts, NYC. More about Susan at

Sunday, June 27, 2010

First 10 of Edition + Prototype

First ten of the edition bound. Had to reprint after a printer/paper fiasco, and glad I did. Now to make more pastepapers and then back to sewing. Fun.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

About Collin and his "Pressbengel" (Introduction to 1st edition)

Note: The biographical information given in this introduction is undergoing serious revision to reflect all that was learned since spring 2013 and has been shared in posts to this blog. A new edition is in preparation, but for more about Ernst and his family read here.

Ernst Collin (1886 -1942) was a writer whose father, the well-known Berlin-based bookbinder Georg Collin (1851–1918), occasionally provided bookbinding lessons to Prince Heinrich, the brother of later Kaiser Wilhelm II, during the winters between 1873 and 1875. It was tradition in the royal family that all princes learn a trade. The elder Collin was also very involved in training women to become full-fledged bookbinders. Because of this paternal connection with the trade, Ernst maintained a strong affinity for bookbinding, demonstrated by his publications about and for the bookbinding trade. Among them are Vom guten Geschmack und von der Kunstbuchbinderei (1914), a treatise about aesthetics and fine binding included in a monograph about the Spamersche Buchbinderei, Leipzig; Deutsche Einbandkunst (1921), the catalog to the Jakob Krause Bund’s exhibition; and the Bund’s newsletter, Die Heftlade (1922–24). The Jakob-Krause-Bund, a precursor to Meister der Einbandkunst (MDE, the German association of masters of the art of binding) , included some of the most influential German binders of the late 19th and early 20th century, among them Paul Adam, Otto Dorfner, Paul Kersten, and Franz Weiße. Collin also authored Buchbinderei für den Hausbedarf ([1915]) and Paul Kersten (1925), the latter a biography of one of the most seminal German fine bookbinders, whose Der Exakte Bucheinband (1923) helped define German fine binding. A steadily growing "work-in-progress" bibliography of his writings can be found here - note, all are in German. Links to content online are included when available but may not be available in your country for DRM reasons.

Der Pressbengel (1922), Collin’s best-known work, was first republished in 1984 by the Mandragora Verlag and later translated into Italian as Dal  Rilegatore d’Arte (1996). Conceived as a dialogue between a bibliophile and a master bookbinder on all aspects of the bookbinding craft as well as specific techniques, the original German has a charming if somewhat pedantically formal “school primer” tone, in keeping with the time in which it was written. The question-and-answer format has long history in pedagogical texts, whether for catechisms (see Nicolaus Cusanus’ Christliche Zuchtschul) or trades, as in Friedrich Friese’s Ceremoniel der Buchbinder (1712), which introduces the reader to all aspects of the bookbinding trade and its traditions. First published in 1937, Oldrich Menhart’s Evening Conversations of the Booklover Rubricius and the Printer Tympanus is the letterpress equivalent to Collin’s Pressbengel, and there is considerable overlap between the two, as might be expected. Evening Conversations was later translated into German (1958) and then English (1980), the latter by the Crabgrass Press in an edition of 100 copies bound by Fritz Eberhardt

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. In his introduction to the 1984 reprint of Der Pressbengel, Gustav Moessner, author of and contributor to several German bookbinding texts, states that he sees the Collin’s work in part as a reaction to the growing industrialization of the bookbinding trade and the loss of the skills and techniques connected with this industrialization. In many respects this trajectory continues today, accelerated by the decrease in formal bookbinding apprenticeship opportunities, the increasing simplification of structures, changing aesthetics, and ultimately changes in the perceived value of books and the general economic climate. Until recently, Germany’s strong guild system required one to complete a formal apprenticeship and become a master binder to order to open one’s own shop and train apprentices. Unfortunately, this system has been in decline over the past decades, and many shops are closing or no longer training apprentices – a completed apprenticeship and “meister” are no longer required to open a business if no apprentices are being trained. Concurrently, a network of centers and alternative programs, such as “master-run” shops offering instruction to amateurs, is not developing in a way that would provide the high quality, rigid training critical to sustaining the craft over the long term. The apprenticeship system declined even earlier in the United Kingdom, another nation with a strong tradition of formal craft training. In other countries the trade system was not as formalized to begin with. The United States represents the most diverse environment for the trade, with a blending of the dominant English, French, and German traditions brought over by immigrants, but a formal career path, like that in the European tradition, never developed. Instead, less formal apprenticeships (on-the-job training) became the norm. This did not, however, hinder the development of some very fine American binders.

Samuel Ellenport’s The Future of Hand-Bookbinding (1993) provides an excellent if sobering overview of the changes experienced by the hand bookbinding trade in the United States, but leaves out the explosive growth among amateur binders and book artists. The past thirty years have seen a resurgence of interest in all aspects of the book arts, with centers offering workshops springing up across the United States. Formal programs have been developed, including the North Bennett Street School in Boston (a two-year trade model), the American Academy of Bookbinding in Colorado (a series of workshops), and the University of Alabama’s MFA in the book arts (an academic degree). These programs are doing much to preserve many traditional skills, but the contemporary book arts craft risks losing others that may be deemed too anachronistic or, like gold tooling, simply unaffordable and therefore not regularly practiced.

This is the first publication of Der Pressbengel in English, and while I have attempted to remain faithful to the original text, it should not be considered a scholarly translation , nor was it ever intended to be a “technical manual.” Like the German original of 1922, it is intended to be a general introduction to the bookbinding craft and trade as it existed in Germany when the work appeared. The title change from Der Pressbengel, an esoteric tool used to increase the leverage when tightening a German backing press (Klotzpresse), to The Bone Folder, an iconic tool that represents bookbinding as no other can, was undertaken both because “Pressbengel” has no “clean” English equivalent and to help make the text more accessible to today’s binders and bibliophiles. In a very few other cases, references to brand names have been made more general where this had no impact on the essence of the text. The result, I hope, is in keeping with the spirit and essence of the original German.

To read (and or bind), select your download option at top left.

Peter D. Verheyen

Print Version Done and a Prototype Bound

The print version of my translation is now back from the designer and looks great. Look forward to copying/printing and then binding 25 copies. A PDF of the text laid out in seven eight-page signatures will also be available for download. Want to wait until the original publication in the Guild of Book Workers Journal has happened.

However........., did get busy to bind a prototype of the edition. Simple non-adhesive link stitch, with folded paper wrapper. Title stamped in gold. Each paper wrapper will be different - a nice way to use up papers and a great excuse to make more.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Translation of Pressbengel to be Published

A translation of the Pressbengel will be published in the 2009 Guild of Book Workers' Journal. See the sidebar at left for the introduction. A small print edition suitable for binding will be available as a download in early 2010.

While I have attempted to remain faithful to the original text, certain liberties have been taken to make the text more accessible to today’s binders and bibliophiles. First, and foremost is the title change from Der Pressbengel, an esoteric tool used to increase the leverage when tightening a German backing press, to The Bone Folder, an iconic tool that represents bookbinding as no other can. The result, I hope, is in keeping with the essence of the German original.

Stay tuned for more information...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Der Pressbengel von Ernst Collin, 1922