Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bindings by W. Collin

Syracuse University Libraries' Leopold v. Ranke Collection can be considered as a time-capsule of sorts in that all books were bound before 1888 when the collection came to Syracuse to form the core of the new university library, largely as a circulating collection. Exceptions are (few) volumes that were rebound by library binders and conservation rebinds/treatments completed after the conservation lab was established in 1995 by me as a part of a grant funded project.

"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)

An Address by Professor C.W. Bennett Read at the Dedication of the Leopold von Ranke Library (pdf page 14), states that after the sale of the Ranke Library to Syracuse University during 1886 - 1887:
And now began the Herculean task of removal from the Royal Library, the completion of imperfect serials, the repairing of worn and damaged volumes, the binding of unbound numbers, the careful classification and binding of thousands of pamphlets, the complete cataloging of the entire collection, the examination and estimate of the more than four hundred manuscripts by a professional paleographer, etc. This work required many months of time and involved the expenditure of a very large sum of money.
Additional information about the sale can be found in Morrison, John J. "Charles W. Bennett's 'The Purchase of the von Ranke Library.' A Prefatory Note. The Courier 15.2 and 15.3 (1978): 15-18.

Image from: Dohrmann, Inken.
150 Jahre Jahre Verein Berliner
. Berlin:
Verein Berliner Buchbindermeister
1849, 2001: 147
Having worked on the collection since coming to Syracuse in 1995 and knowing the variety of bindings in the collection, I decided to see whether there were any bindings identified as being bound by W. Collin, the firm started by Ernst Collin's grandfather in 1845. W(ilhelm) Collin was born 1820 in Beuthen/Bytom (PL) the son of a physician. He moved to Berlin with his family, and apprenticed with the Court Bookbinder Abraham Mossner from 1835-1840. In 1859 he was named Court Bookbinder by the Princess Victoria (later Empress). As a binder, he was especially known for his fine gilding. [Dohrmann, Inken. 150 Jahre Jahre Verein Berliner Buchbindermeister. Berlin: Verein Berliner Buchbindermeister 1849, 2001: 147].

A search of Syracuse's catalog revealed 135 titles (a few being multi-volume sets) in the collection, 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." Things were starting to get interesting. Thanks to the generosity of a colleague in Special Collections I was able to go in the stacks with her, spreadsheet and pencil in hand, and in the course of 2 hours examined every binding on the list. Only two or three were rebound, and all had their binder's labels. Jackpot.

So, what were the results of this survey? All binder's tickets were of the "W. Collin, K.K. Hofbuchbinder, Berlin" variety indicating that the books had been rebound between 1871 when the Kings of Prussia became the Kings of Prussia AND German Emperors (formation of a unified German Empire), and the death of Ranke when the collection was boxed for sale in 1886-1887. The "K.K. Hofbuchbinder" means "Royal and Imperial Court Bookbinder." There was more than one of those a Carl Wilhelm Vogt being another, but still. Below a scan of the binder's ticket.

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.
This date range puts the firm under the control of W. Collin and his son Georg who became co-owner with his father in 1886 after returning from his journeyman years in Vienna, Paris, Switzerland, and England, there studying with Joseph Zaehnsdorf, "one of the most well-known German binders" [Inheim, Heinrich. Georg Collin [obituary]. Archiv für buchgewerbe. v.56 (1919)]. W. Collin died in 1893. The firm was continued as W. Collin under his son Georg from 1886 until his death in 1918. Georg's daughter Gertrud (sister of Ernst) also learned the trade, and took over the firm following her father's death. In 1930, it become a part of the firm of Paetch & Collin until liquidation by the Nazis in 1939. [Dohrmann, Inken. 150 Jahre Jahre Verein Berliner Buchbindermeister. Berlin: Verein Berliner Buchbindermeister 1849, 2001: 181].

Even though the firm was W. Collin was "Court Bookbinder" and produced exquisite work for the Court, it was also a trade bindery that was involved in the binding of books for a variety of customers, from individuals (like Ranke) to libraries to publishers in all manner of techniques. There is scant mention of W Collin. An example of a cloth case trade binding by the firm of W. Collin can be seen in the University of Wisconsin's digital collections. I have found no information about the size and scope of the firm thus far, including advertisements/images, and whether it would have been described as a "dampfbuchbinderei" is unknown. Regardless, it is unlikely either W. or Georg did much binding except for the most exclusive commissions.Dampfbuchbinderein were large industrial trade binderies (dampf = steam) described in the catalog to the 1994 exhibition Gebunden in Der Dampfbuchbinderei: Buchbinden Im Wandel Des 19. Jahrhunderts.

From Inheim, Heinrich (Ernst Collin
Georg Collin [obituary].
Archiv für buchgewerbe.
v.56 (1919)
The perceived state of German bookbinding at this time was described in The Profession Of Bookselling: A Handbook Of Practical Hints For The Apprentice And Bookseller by A. Growoll, London, 1895. A snippet describing this can be seen on pg 108, and was posted to this blog in March. Georg Collin himself is quoted as saying in an article about the 1900 World Exposition in Paris published in the Allegemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien ( v.15-16 1900-1901: 267-270) that "bookbinding has attained the highest steps in France. Unfortunately we must stand back and let this happen, because even if we have the strength, drive, and talent to create work at this level, we just don't have the clients..., Germans just won't pay what the French and other foreigners will." The article concludes by saying that in binding at the highest levels, the honors go to France and England, with Germany being the leader in publishers' bindings. Bernhard Harms' Zur entwickelungsgeschichte der deutschen buchbinderei in der zweiten hälfte des 19. jahrhunderts. Technisch--Statistisch--Volkswirtschaftlich (Tübingen und Leipzig: Mohr, 1902) provides a great deal of statistical information about the bookbinding trade in German in the latter half of the 19th century, but unfortunately does not have any detailed information about the firm of W. Collin. Likewise, Hellmuth Helwig's Das Deutsche Buchbinder-Handwerk (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1961-1965).

Georg went on to redefine and elevate German bookbinding in the late 19th early 20th century, created many presentation bindings and "adressen" (presentation portfolios for official declarations...), and contributed to the development of Paul Kersten, perhaps Germany's first and best known "fine binder." Later, Ernst Collin wrote and published a biography of Kersten as a Jakob-Krause-Bund festschrift under his Corvinus-Antiquariat imprint  in 1925. Kersten himself was a noted author of binding texts, his most noted title being Der Exakte Bucheinband first published in 1909. But back to the books at hand.

So, what did these bindings look like? The imprint dates of titles in the collection that we examined ranged from the late 18th century up to 1876. Some were monographs, some selected volumes from series or serials. Due to condition (spines missing or damaged), we could examine the structure on some of the bindings. All were rebinds in some form. NONE were stapled, but sewings were uniformly on recessed cords, with stuck on endbands, and quarter leather case bindings featuring a variety of marbled papers on the sides sides. Leathers were goat, sheep, and calf. Endpapers were all of the same gray paper as a reinforced single folio hooked around the first and last text signature sections and then sewn. This endpaper construction and others are described in the article "Die Vorsätze im Buche," Archiv für buchbinderei, v.13, 1913-1914. (66-71) that is preceded by an article about the firm of W. Collin, with image of Georg Collin. A translation of the endpaper article can be found in HathiTrust (as can Archiv für Buchbinderei...). Archiv für Buchbinderei was published by Paul Adam, and no authors are indicated for the articles, although W. Collin is listed among the contributors, many of whom were illustrious during that time.

Overall I would describe these as competent trade bindings, not glamorous, not especially precise, with some interesting quirks such as in the example below.

Exterior detail of the above book showing mismatched leathers on spine and corner.

Overall binding, sheepskin with fading due to exposed spine and smaller adjacent binding.

Below a selection of other representative bindings by W. Collin in the v. Ranke collection. Unfortunately no paper cases, pastepaper, vellum, or full leather... Still, great to see them all, especially knowing something about the history of the firm and people behind it. Important to remember when viewing these (and their wear) is that the v. Ranke Collection was a Syracuse's circulating collection for some time before it became a special collection.

All binding images permission of: Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries.

Thank you also to Stephen Ferguson, Assistant University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections Curator of Rare Books at Princeton University Library for examining the W. Collin bindings in their collections. Unfortunately they had been rebound. His blog, Notabilia, is worth following.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cranach Press Hamlet - Ignatz Wiemeler

Visited the Rochester Institute of Technology's Cary Graphic Arts Collection with a class I was taking several weeks ago, and was VERY pleasantly surprised by one of the books Curator Steven Galbraith had selected to show us. A copy of the Cranach Press Hamlet bound by Ignatz Wiemeler, perhaps THE most noted German binder of the 20th century. Wiemeler was, among others, teacher of Kurt Londenberg (teacher of Frank Mowery), Fritz Eberhardt (teacher of Don Rash), and Arno Werner (teacher of many in Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley including Carol Blinn, Sarah Creighton, and elsewhere such as Gerhard Gerlach).

Ignatz Wiemeler (at left)with Kurt Londenberg in Leipzig, Germany, 1937.
From: Leben und Werk des Buchkünstlers Kurt Londenberg (1914-1995),
Helma Schaefer, ed., Verlag Ludwig, 2009.

As I entered the room filled with other treasures, I was immediately drawn to this binding, and when I asked, "Wiemeler?" was acknowledged by a wry smile on the part of Steven. Thank you for letting me handle this volume and share these images. Note the very simple elegance and incredible precision of the binding – Wiemeler hallmarks all.

All images permission of Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Signed by the Meister

Thank you Steven for this rare treat.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mayflies of the Driftless Region

Working on Gaylord Shanilec's Mayflies of the Driftless Region for Designer Bookbinders' "Contemporary Bindings of Private Press Books" exhibition that will open in the UK and travel to venues in the US. Book is due in the UK early January, 2014.

Gaylord kindly included prospecti when he sent the textblock and I bound those in at the back along with tipping in an original print (for the standard edition cover) opposite the title page.

Textblock sewn on three vellum back salmon leather slips and backed towards 90 degrees at shoulder. Double-folio Johannot endpapers to go with textblock.

Graphite top edge (others left untrimmed), wrapped salmon leather endband to match slips. Spine stiffener covered with salmon leather turned in at head and tail with leather very thin and wide enough to go down shoulders and onto endpaper. Cave paper flyleaves glued on at base of shoulder and on leather and at foredge for greater flexibility.

Wrapped endbands, graphite top edge, and prospecti guarded in at rear of textblock...

Spine view

Illustration from text scanned and output via inkjet. Sealed with varnish to prevent bleeding. A different illustration will go on the back board. Slips will extend onto covers on top of vellum, amount TBD

Vellum laid on top of artwork. Will show through with more clarity when vellum is pasted to boards.

Next steps, attach artwork to boards, cover in vellum, stamp title on front board, attach boards to textblock via slips...

Structure is an open joint binding (in German, Franzband mit offenem Falz), a style that is attributed to Otto Dorfner, a contemporary of Ignatz Wiemeler who also taught at the Bauhaus and bound some of the Cranach Press works... It is also used heavily by Jean de Gonet in France [Site has some broken links, click on "reliures" for bindings]. De Gonet also had a fantastic retrospective at the BNF, amazing catalog available via Sonya Sheats a binder working in the Boston area uses it beautifully as well. Erin Fletcher did a very nice multi-part interview with her on her blog. Toon Van Camp a binder in Belgium describes the structure as he learned in a workshop with Brother Edgar Claes. Anne Puls, a German binder creates beautiful designs using this technique, something I would love see her write up.

Watch the design evolve as I post updates  while working on the binding.

Edit 11/10/13: Read part 2 here.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fancied-up Books 2

Another commission that involved rebinding a modern trade binding. I had rediscovered several sheets of beautiful birch veneer and used this binding as an excuse to try weathering the wood and seeing how it worked as a prelude to another binding. It's nice to be able to transfer skills and materials from my model railroad hobby, but the other binding had its problems - while the wood turned in fairly easily on these 40pt boards, it was a bit more challenging on the other book, cracking and separating from the paper backing... On the upside and while hard to see in the image, the wood took the gold stamping for the title well, too. Amy Borezo has used this with great effect, turning-in or trimming flush with board edges. Her binding on the Guild's 100th Anniversary Catalog is here. The salmon skin was much easier to work with. This one is not polished but suede-like.

On Søren Kierkegaard by Edward F. Mooney

Bound in salmon leather on spine with stained birch veneer covered boards; endpapers of handmade Roma paper; graphite top edge; leather endbands; title stamped in gold on front cover with goat leather onlays. Enclosed is cloth-covered slipcase. Bound 2013.

Concept:Simple and elegant with a weathered look.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cranach Press Hamlet - Process in photographs

Harry Graf Kessler by Edvard Munch
As often happens when reading, one finds a source mentioned, follows it to something else, and off one goes. This was the case for me recently. While researching a mention of Ernst Collin I came across an advertisement for a journal associated with a center-left political party among the names mentioned was an Ernst Collin, but also many other leading figures of the arts, civic organizations, politics, ... Also among the names was Harry Graf Kessler, an Anglo-German count, diplomat, writer, and patron of modern art who in 1903 became Director of the the "Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe" (Arts and Crafts) in Weimar, founding the Deutsche Künstlerbund (German Federation of Artists - a very avant garde group) in the same year. Berlin in Lights, The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler (1918-1937) was reviewed in the New York Times in 2000 by Iain Bamforth, with the review entitled "Present at the Destruction" providing a good introduction to the man and the times.

In 1913, Kessler founded the Cranach Press in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement and inspired by the likes of William Morris,  the Doves Press, Cobden Sanderson, and others to publish livre d'artistes. Among those he worked with were Eric Gill, Henry van der VeldeAristide Maillol and Edward Gordon Craig . It was the latter who illustrated the Cranach Press' Hamlet in 1928. Sarah Werner in her Wynken de Worde blog has a good illustrated description of the Hamlet.

The Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek in Weimar is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Press and issued a wonderful catalog that provides background information on Kessler, his activities in Weimar, with the remainder given over to the depicting works Kessler published, including job work. The bulk of the illustrations are dedicated to the livre d'artiste however.

Also included in the catalog is a poster depicting the process of creating Hamlet, including layout, preparing the paper, proofing, printing and not enough of the binding process by Otto Dorfner (below). Dorfner was also associated with the Bauhaus in Weimar, was a founding member of Meister der Einbandkunst, but also was on the Nazi's Gottbegnadeten List or artists crucial to the Nazi's culture. He created among other things presentation bindings and objects).

Otto Dorfner with Students, 1935
Note the master in his white labcoat (kittel) surrounded by his focused students critiquing work

Back to the poster with images of the printing process. Those fortunately are online in the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek's digital collections. While the poster only has 60 images, the online collection has 96 (still few of the binding process). The collection can be accessed here. Presentation could be better, the images are not really in order of process, and scans from glass plate negatives are interspersed with scans of the envelopes (containing descriptive information). Still a good resource. Navigation (in German only) below. At left, highlighted in the blue panel,  Inhalt gives the list of images that will appear at right, Vorschau provides thumbnails of the images. You can also scroll through using the arrows above the images...

Click to enlarge

The catalog to the exhibit can be ordered online from Amazon. It's in German only, but has lots of pictures.

See also:

This Hamlet is a Fakesimile

Is this really a prospectus for the Cranach Press' edition of *Hamlet*, or a (later) facsimile of one? It's printed on a beautiful cream laid sheet, no watermark. The last page appears, to my high school German, to be a description of the different states in the edition ("eight copies on vellum/parchment...") with prices in Marks. A small addendum at the bottom of that last page tells us the piece is a "keepsake supplied by Gallery 303 to the participants of the Heritage Series."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Endpaper Sample Book

Endpaper sample/swatch book from the Buntpapier- and Leimfabrik A.-G. in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and dated 1901/2. The volume is in the HathiTrust digital collection with the original part of the The New York Public Library's Paul Kersten & Hans Loubier Collections of Books on Bookbinding.

From time to time I will share other books from the HathiTrust.

 Regrettably the link will only work for viewers coming in with US based IP-addresses.


Link to the book directly at HathiTrust here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Provenance and Costs of Bookbinding

A few weeks ago Peter Zillig (Vuscor) shared a book he had found on ebay that was being offered by a dealer in Cologne, Germany. The book is Jacob Böhmen's (1575-1624) Alle Theosophischen Schrifften (Complete Theosophical Works), vol 1 (author's biography), printed 1682 in Amsterdam. At 15x9 cm and 144 pages it is a rather small tome, in a rather plain late 19th century German binding.

Binding exterior (Seller's photo)

Decorative title page (Seller's photo)

Title page (Seller's photo)

While the content of the book might be interesting to those interested in theosophy, it is the provenance and what was done to the book that made it interesting enough for me to spend the not insignificant sum of €181.

The book was originally issued in 15 volumes and had been rebound into 5 volumes at some point before 1890 when it was disbound and then rebound into its 29 individual sections/chapters. This was done for easier access to the text by the owner who bought it from an antiquarian in Tübingen in 1883. What is unusual and very nice to find is that the owner (Carl Friedrich Beck) wrote his rationale for rebinding and the costs onto the flyleaf.

Here a transcription by the dealer of the inscription:
Gegenw[ärtiges] theosophisches Werk Jak. Böhme ist im Jahre 1883 v. der antiquarischen Buchhandlung in Tübingen angekauft worden. Dasselbe bestund damals in 5 Bänden. Im Jahre 1890 hat man dasselbe nach all seinen einzelnen Theilen wie solche der sel. Böhme geschreiben, und zwar der schnellen Auffindung und des bequemen Gebrauchs halber in 29 Bd. binden lassen, deren Kosten sich auf 18 M. belaufen. Gesamtkosten des Werks 61 M. Gebe Gott, daß dieses unschätzbare Werk nicht in unberufene Hände gelange. Anno 1890.

This theosophical work of Jak. Böhme was bought in the year 1883 from the antiquarian bookseller in Tübingen. At that time it consisted of 5 volumes. In the year 1890 the same text was rebound into 29 individual volumes reflecting [Böhme's] original organization to make it easier to access and use the text. The cost for this rebinding was 18 Marks, total costs for the text 61 Marks. May God ensure that this priceless work not fall into  unbidden hands. Anno 1890
According to the dealer this volume is the only one of the 29 that made it... The binding cost of 18 Marks in 1890 is equivalent to € 111 ($144 in 2008), the total costs for the text of 61 Marks is equivalent to € 378 ($491 in 2008). These € (Euros) are indexed, but do not take into consideration the average incomes during that time that were quite a bit lower.  Unfortunately despite having just about every other statistic related to binding and binderies, Bernhard Harms' Zur Entwickelungsgeschichte der deutschen Buchbinderei in der zweiten hälfte des 19. Jahrhundert (1902) does not have any information on wages... However  Heinrich Bürger's Die Hamburger Gewerkschaften und deren Kämpfe von 1865 bis 1890 (1899) indicates on page 80 that in 1872 the weekly wage for a unionized bookbinder in Hamburg around 12~16 Marks at 10hrs/day...

All in a all a great find - Danke Peter fürs darauf aufmerksam machen.