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.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Renate Mesmer on her Apprenticeship in Germany


Renate at AAB
Listen to Renate Mesmer, Eric Weinmann Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. talk with Steve Miller at the OxBow PBI about her bookbinding apprenticeship in Germany.

Previously, she was Assistant Head of Conservation at the Folger, Director of Book and Paper Conservation at the Centro del bel Libro Ascona, Switzerland, and Head of Conservation at the Speyer’s State Archives in Germany. She, like many apprentices of the day started at  age 16, earning her Meister in bookbinding from the Chamber of Crafts of Palatinate in Germany. She has been very active teaching at Paper and Book Intensive (PBI), for the Guild of Book Workers (GBW), American Academy of Bookbinding (AAB), and elsewhere.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pan


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 - Colliniana 2014

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...