Tuesday, June 26, 2012

German Stiffened Paper Bindings - 1

Henry Hébert describes the history and construction of these very basic and utilitarian bindings in his Works of the Hand blog post on November 27, 2011. Syracuse University Library's von Ranke Collection has numerous examples of the style, so I thought it would be nice to provide depictions of examples.

"Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), a German historian and historiographer, was highly influential in shaping the modern approach to history, emphasizing such things as reliance on primary sources, narrative history and international politics. Ranke's personal and professional library, consisting of more than 10,000 books, several hundred manuscripts and approximately 5 linear ft. of personal papers, was purchased for Syracuse University in 1887 and formed the nucleus of what is now the Syracuse University Special Collections Research Center (SCRC)." (cite)

The von Ranke Library. Image from Syracuse University Archives
What makes this collection interesting is that it while a good bit of conservation work has been completed on works in the collection, the collection functions as time capsule for a great deal of 18th and 19th century German trade binding styles. Many of these reveal themselves as a result of the heavy use which the collection experienced when it served as the newly formed university's circulating library, making it a great (and sobering) pleasure to browse the stacks.

Known as broschuren and steifbroschuren in German, these brochures, pamphlets, and other related bindings have long been a part of the German bookbinding tradition. These can range from single section pamphlets with simple wrappers to adhesive bound or sewn textblocks in wrappers, to hard cover variants. In all cases the common thread is providing the texts with a simple yet functional binding that may or may not be intended to be permanent.

In the literature they first appear in the 3rd quarter of the 19th century, but are not given more than cursory attention. "We are all familiar with these kinds of bindings regardless of “national tradition,” in most cases do not even notice them. Perhaps that is because even if they largely saw use holding together notebooks, schoolbooks, or as “interim/provisional” bindings for other texts..." (L. Brade’s Illustriertes Buchbinderbuch. Halle: Wilhelm Knapp, 1882. Pg 195-201). Adam (Die Praktischen Arbeiten des Buchbinders, Vienna: A Hartleben’s Verlag, 1898. Pg 27) writes that “brochures are not a form of book, but nothing more than folios gathered together in a handy and useable form, in order to be more saleable. In order to prevent the individual folios from falling out if they are cut open, these are simply sewn together” [Note, links to German manuals above may not reflect the edition being quoted but freely available via Google Books. Year and pages reflect actual examples in my collection.]

The boards could be thinner (thin card stock) or more substantial (1 to 1.5mm), the covering material could be paper or cloth and was attached directly to the spine, and the book was trimmed flush either on all three sides, or just top and bottom with fore-edge square and the covering material turned in along that edge.

Below is a selection of images showing these functional bindings. Click on them for a larger view.

Simple multi-section journal articles with cloth spines, marbled sides, and fore-edge squares with turn-ins.
Click on image for large image showing the embossed cloth used.

Interior view showing fore-edge squares with turn-ins and the single-folio tipped-on endpaper (flyleaf missing).

Cloth spine with bare boards with front of original paper wrapper adhered to front..

Simple stiffened paper wrapper, trimmed on all three sides with gilt edge applied after trimming.

Interior view showing single sheet pastedown hooked around first text signature.

Sewn on 2 recessed cords with gently rounded spine.

Sewn on 2 vellum slips

Sewn on 2 vellum slips
All binding images:Credit: Leopold v. Ranke Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries.

 My next post will describe and depict the modern version of this structure, one that is equally suited to quickly binding photocopies, fine press editions, and most anything that is in between. Click here to read...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst

The Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst (Yearbook of the Art of Bookbinding) was a journal published 4 times, 1927, 1928, 1929/30, 1937. It was published by the Meister der Einbandkunst (MDE), the German association of masters of the art of binding that grew of out the Jakob-Krause-Bund. Both organizations included some of the most influential German binders of the late 19th and early 20th century, among them Paul Adam, Otto Dorfner, Paul Kersten, Franz Weiße, and Ignatz Wiemeler.

Published in German, each volume was divided into two parts, with essays by leading scholars in the field on historic and contemporary bookbinding, respectively. Included in the contemporary sections were "reviews" of the state of fine binding in individual nations allowing the reader to compare trends in design and see who was coming up in the field. The date range of 1927 - 1937 is also very interesting in particular when viewing the German contributions as this period covers the Depression, Weimar Republic, the period of the Bauhaus, and the ascendency of the Nazis. All these influenced binding design and content, often quite graphically - art, craft, and politics are very intertwined.


The copy above, bound by/in the firm of E.A. Enders (Leipzig) is from my collection. I remember being blown away by it on many levels when it was brought into Bill Minter's shop by a dealer who wanted to have a nice clamshell box made for it. Much to Bill's chagrin, the book was sold on the spot (for what was then a lot of money) with a box made shortly thereafter in my own then modest studio. I very quickly found myself sucked into the essays, especially the ones on contemporary binding. It was my first (and really only) design binding purchase and I still love to study the design, the combination of decor, the typographic elements - Germans integrated the title into designs more so than other traditions - and also the little flaws that make it "human." For instance, the titles on the spine and boards were tooled not from cast type/letters, but pieced together from various straight line pallets and curved gouges like those below.

From Fine Cut
Over time I was able to acquire the remaining 3 volumes, all in different bindings - plain 1/4 leather, rough cloth, and the paper wrapper in which it was issued. Together they provide a tremendous snapshot of the work being produced in Germany and around the world during a tumultuous period.

Other bindings on this journal can be viewed online below. Image quality not great, but they show a wide range of binding styles.
To find the journal at a "library near you" go to WorldCat.The archive of Meister der Einbandkunst is at the University and Regional Library Münster.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bookbinding (Postage) Stamps

Bookbinding has even made it onto stamps. Below are examples from my collection from Germany, France, and most recently Canada. Enjoy!

I remember having to learn how to program one of those fancy guillotines to take an A0 sheet (1 square meter) down to a postage stamp. The little dots on the triangles protruding from the cutter are optical sensors to stop the blade if someone reached in. We learned how to circumvent those from an instructor missing a few parts on his fingers hier und dort. We listened when he said, "don't ..."



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ludwig Schaible's German Bookbinders' Federation Membership Book

Several years ago I was able to acquire the German Bookbinders' Guild membership book of a certain Ludwig Schaible. Herr Schaible was born on the 7th of January 1867 in Dornstetten, Germany and joined the Federation on the 1st of April, 1897 at the age of 30 in Leipzig, Dornstetten is in the northern part of the Black Forest closer to the Rhein whereas Leipzig is in Saxony, a bit south of Berlin, quite a distance apart and an indication of mobility in the trades.In this his third membership book, he is shown to have worked in Hamburg Altona from 1913 - 1918 as the location where these dues were paid was also recorded.

Now known as the Bund Deutscher Buchbinder Innnungen (BDBI) or Federation of German Bookbinding Guilds it was formed in 1880 to support the trade and those practicing it. The membership books were used in all trades and used to record the contributions made for dues, insurance, and other expenses related to working with these recorded using stamps. Below are the cover and a selection of page spreads depicting these stamps.






The small notice below from the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, Vol 22, 1907 also gives an indication of how these stamps were collected and accounted for.


In this case for non-participation at the May Day celebration by those from shops that could not close for the day. Those earning 15 Marks/week were asked to pay 25 cents and for those earning over 24 Marks the fee was 75 cents. Stamps for the appropriate amount were then glued into the membership books. As an aside the notice also indicates that the Federation of German Hempspinners and Sewing Thread Manufacturers agreed to a general price increase of 4% for their products effective immediately.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

German Bookbinder's Song of 1842.

The Chorus by William Hogarth, ca.1850
 German Bookbinder's Song of 1842.

Who can be more contented,
With life as ‘tis. presented.
    To us who bind the books?
Our work is full of pleasures,
We bind the richest treasures,
    And beautify their looks.

CHORUS: Hallo, halli. hallo, halli,
The Binder's life for me,

The plough we move so swiftly.
The hammer wield so deftly,
     Upon the beating stone.
In rounding or in backing,
We find no music lacking.
     Each has its merry tone.

We scrape and gild and burnish,
Till every edge we furnish
     With golden ray of light.
We work most charming headbands,
With blue and white and red strands,
     Like ladies’ dress bedight.

Thc backs we draw on lightly,
The corners turn in tightly,
     Well soaked with good stout paste.
The sides we neatly cover
With marbled paper over,
     To suit the owner’s taste.

Half French, half English binding,
In each a pleasure finding,
     We ready are to do.
The back we neatly fillet,
Or gild with tools to fill it,
     The title letter too.

In carven oak book cases,
And shelves in poorer places,
     Or ladies’ hands I ween:
Before the Sacred Presence,
At wedding feasts as presents,
     Our work is always seen.

The leaders of the nations,
With stars and decorations,
     With us their treasures trust.
Where would be all the sages?
The wisdom of the ages
     Eithout us would be dust.

If all our storied pages,
As in the by-gone ages,
     Were written down on rolls ;
The wear from oft unfolding,
And stains, from students' holding,
     Would oft blot out the scrolls.

But since the art of printing –
The world with glory tinting –
     Brought books within our reach:
In any form of binding,
How easy 'tis in finding,
      Whate’er the pages teach.

There could be no diffusion
Of knowledge, in confusion,
     Of papers loosely laid.
So, colleagues, lift your glasses,
To readers of all c1asses,
     And drink, “Long Live our Trade."

All hail the craftsman's hand, boys!
All through the Fatherland. boys!
     Men still will need our aid.
Long as the world goes round, boys!
Bookbinding can't go down, boys!
      All hail our worthy Trade!

From Journal fur Buchbinderei.

[From the British bookmaker: a journal for the book printer, the book illustrator, the book cover designer, the book binder, librarians, and lovers of books generally, Volume 5, 1891-92, pg 70]

Reference Collection Work

Spent the equivalent of a few fruitful days weeding and shifting my bookbinding/book arts reference collection so that I have _some_ space to grow in all areas. The top 2~3 shelves on the far right are still in flux, but no more books stacked on top of books. All is reflective of refocused collection development policy. Almost like a "real" library. Was precipitated in part by bringing my artist's book collection (not in this picture but on a brand-spanking new Gaylord Bros book cart - the large 3-shelf version) back from work... Beneficiaries of the weeding were my faithful students/friends.


 Still a bit to do, and perhaps more reference books to bring from work, but looking forward to being able to add to my database and use the collection...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Der Buchbinder a la Die Sendung mit der Maus

Great little German video by Marcel Ernst about bookbinding thematically based on Die Sendung mit Der Maus, a WDR show for kids that explained all sorts of things.Video is in German and starts out with a guy who has a falling apart book. Tries to fix it and finally ends up in a trade bindery that shows how a book is made - double fan adhesive cased binding... Then smiles all around.