Thursday, December 30, 2010

Paul Adam: An introduction to the German bookbinding trade, part I

 While the trades were historically described in catechism-like works such as Friese's Ceremoniel der Buchbinder from 1712 (below), it wasn't until the turn of the 19th century for more complete and trade-oriented works to appear, works that laid out the history of the trade and its requirements in detail.



Paul Adam (1849-1931) was one of the leaders of the German bookbinding trade during the late 1800's until his death. He was the author of several seminal "modern" manuals written for the trade, among them Der Bucheinband: Seine Technik und seine Geschichte (1890), Die praktischen Arbeiten des Buchbinders (1898), also published in English as Practical Bookbinding by Scott, Greenwood & Co. (London) in 1903, Die Kunst des Entwerfens für zeichende Buchbinder (1917). All these works were reprinted numerous times and issued in various editions. Dates refer to the copies in my personal collection. His autobiography Lebenserinnerungen eines alten Kunstbuchbinders was published by the Meister der Einbandkunst's Verlag für Einbandkunst (Leipzig) in 1925.

Title page of Leitfaden für die Gesellen- und Meister-Prüfung im Buchbindergewerbe

Among these, Leitfaden für die Gesellen- und Meister-Prüfung im Buchbindergewerbe (1904) was the first modern text that set out to describe the trade for those who might enter it. It was published by Adam (founder and director of the state subsidized Technical School of Artistic and Practical Bookbinding in Düsseldorf*) for the Federation of German Bookbinding Guilds, one of the first of its kind. In over 130 pp it describes:
  1. The history of the book trade
  2. The early work habits and techniques of the bookbinder
  3. The development of the bookbinding trade and its practices
  4. The tools of the bookbinder
  5. The materials of the bookbinder
  6. The techniques of the bookbinder
  7. Calculating costs / estimating
  8. Materials, their properties and sources
  9. Decorative techniques
  10. Procurement of tools and supplies
  11. Accounting for the trade
  12. The bookbinder and bookbinding trade, their members, and their legal standing
  13. The organization of the German trade guilds
  14. The tradesman in his private life
  15. Tips of the trade and organization of the the workshop
Heading for chapter V, "Materials of the Bookbinder."
Depicted are a [poorly constructed] and [well constructed] book.

Also included were the required theoretical knowledge and hand skills for apprentices, journeymen and masters so that these would know what was expected as part of a nationally coordinated education and examinations process for the trades. These last sections were perhaps the most important as successful completion of the exams for the various levels would determine the career path of the individual.

Advertisements for many of the vendors of the time round out the volume.

Illustration ending chapter 4, "Tools of the Bookbinder."

In successive posts I will  describe some of these sections in greater detail as they would be very useful topics to cover in updated form by programs teaching bookbinding and the book arts (or most any craft) today. To help ensure at least a chance of success, crafts/tradespeople must not only understand their manual skills but also the fundamentals of calculating costs, accounting, and the other business aspects of what is a beautiful craft and trade.

Below are some of the other illustrations of this work depicting a great deal of Jugendstil charm.

Illustration for chapter VI, "Techniques of the Bookbinder."
Illustration for chapter IX, "Decoration."
While the "Meister" is laying on gold leaf with a piece of paper, the journeyman keeps away the curious apprentices...

Final illustration depicting rats being driven away from a bag of starch.

From the muse to the binder.
Ploughing an edge. Plough with
a circular blade at bottom.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Bookbinder and Bookbinding in German Books of Trades

Ständebücher, or books describing social classes and trades were fairly common in 16th/17th century "Germany" providing valuable descriptions and insights, and in the case of trades, the tools and working environments of the craftsmen.

The two most well known ones are Jost Amman's (1539 - 1591) Ständebuch, Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden, Nürnberg, 1568, and Christoph Weigel's (1654 - 1725) Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an, biß auf alle Künstler Und Handwercker, or Ständebuch, Regensburg, 1698.

Amman's well-known image of the bookbinder is iconic within the bookbinding community. The text below the image is attributed to Hans Sachs (1494 - 1576). Amman was born in Zurich, Switzerland the son of an academic but settled in Nürnberg, Germany, completed over 1500 prints and died in poverty. Sachs was a Meistersänger, master poet who started off learned the shoemaker's trade before deciding to become a poet. Insel Verlag, Leipzig/Frankfurt, Germany published several editions of facsimiles of the woodcuts beginning in 1934.

The Bookbinder / Der Buchbinder

I bind all sorts of books /
Religious and worldly / large and small /
In parchment or plain boards
And fit it with a good covering/
And clasps / and tool it with decorations /
I even flatten them at the beginning /
And many I gild on the edges /
With which I earn much money.

Ich bind allerley Bücher ein/
Geistlich und Weltlich/groß und klein/
In Perment oder Bretter nur
Und beschlags mit guter Clausur
Und Spangen/und Stempff sie zur zier/
Ich sie auch im anfang planier/
Etlich vergüld ich auff dem Schnitt/
Da verdien ich viel geldes mit.

The woodcut shows a very well equipped bindery with books being sewn on a sewing frame, [the master?] ploughing the edges of a book with the press supported in his lap; books in laying presses, a paper beating hammer on the floor as well as a scraper and the saw resting against his stumpish stool. The walls show rolls with lines and patterns (based on apparent width), a drill, rasps, and axe for working wooden boards.



In the same vein, were Weigels Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an, biß auf alle Künstler Und Handwercker of 1698 described the trades in prose with illustrations of each, 4 pages in the case of the bookbinder. While Weigel, a leading engraver and publisher of the time, is credited with many of the plates in this work, he did not create all the plates, especially for trades would not have know much about (such as nautical ones). The others were purchased from  Jan Luyken of Amsterdam who had published Het Menselyk Bedryfa, a similar book of trades in 1694, and also depicted the bookbinder. [Source: Bauer, Michael: Christoph Weigel (1654-1725), Kupferstecher in Augsburg und Nürnberg. Sonderdruck. Frankfurt a.M. 1983]  Weigel's Ständebuch is online at the State Library of Saxony in Dresden, with no mention being made in the catalog of the Luyken's contributions. The bookbinder begins on page 414 (actual page count starting with pastedown), with the plate following paginated page 256.Thank you to Jeff Peachey for alerting me to the work of Luykens and to other sources.

Looking at the identical image of the bookbinder (from Etwas für Alle) below one can see a very typically Northern European (Dutch) architecture indicating that this plate most likely originated from Luyken as well.

The Bookbinder / Der Buchbinder

Gott merkt und liset still, was man verblättern will
God notices and quietly notes what one ruins


Man's heart is like a birch
God tightens it the crosses presses,
and sews on it (as measured,)
the grace for the original sin.
Finally after hammering and cutting He will
clothe the same in golden blessings.

Das Menschen Hertz ist wie ein Buch:
Gott spannet es in Kreutzes-Pressen

Und heftet (wie Er's abgemessen)
daran die Gnade für den Fluch.

Zuletzt will er nach Schlag und Schneiden
dasselb in güldnen Segen kleiden

While the bookbinder at left is sewing a book on four cords (gluepot at his feet), his colleague is beating the pages flat as was habit at the time. Jeff Peachey discusses the practice and beating hammers on his blog in two postings (first | second). A plough with circular blade for trimming book edges rests against a stack of books on the floor.


Abraham à Sancta Clara's Etwas für alle, Würzburg, 1699, i.e.. Something for Everyone, That is a short description of persons of various classes, offices, and trades... also included a catechism, something that was not uncommon during that time. This used the same engravings as Weigel's Ständebuch. Sancta Clara, an Augustinian monk, was born as Johann Ulrich Megerle (1644-1709) at Kreenheinstetten, near Messkirch in Baden, Germany and was appointed imperial court preacher at Vienna in 1669.

On the subject of bookbinding in general, Sancta Clara is credited with writing:

So I will also, where much praise is due the bookbinders, because truthfully: useful, highly useful is the hand of the bookbinder, because a book without a binding is nothing more than a mirror without a frame, a house without a roof, a garden without a fence, a town without a wall, a steed without a saddle. The binding that which makes it possible to read a book comfortably and gainfully.
So ist es mir auch erlaubt, wo einiges Lob den Buchbindern zu geben, denn in allerlei Wahrheit: nützlich, übernützlich is die Hand des Buchbinders, da ein Buch ohne Bund nichts anderes ist als ein Spiegel ohne Rahmen, ein Haus ohne Dach, ein Garten ohne Zaun, eine Stadt ohne Mauer, ein Roß ohne Sattel. Der Bund macht erst, daß man ein Buch bequem und mit Nutzen lesen kann.
And,

While many sew their books together so loosely that the leaves soon fall out just as easily as the leaves are blown off of a tree in the fall. Others due partially to inexperience and laggardness that cause the signatures to misalign and as a result damage and bring shame to the book. Finally there are the many, yes, even most bookbinders that don't just know how to make a gilt edge, but also know how to live a virtuous life.

Etliche zwar hefften die Bücher zusammen so liederlich, daß die Blätter so bald abfallen als die Blätter von einem Baum, denen der harte Herbstlufft gleich den Rest gibt. Einige seynd wohl auch theils aus Unerfahrenheit, theils aus Saumseligkeit, Welche die Bögen versetzen und folgsam dem gantzen Buch ein Schad and Schand zufügen. Im übrigen seynd ohnegezweifelt sehr viel, ja die meisten Buchbinder, die nicht alleyn einen guldenen Schnitt zu machen wissen, sondern auch einen guldenen Wandel führen.
Christoph Weigel wrote:

Because the exterior binding and cover, if they are well-made and preserved, protect the book from damage over time and allow the pages to be turned and opened at will quickly and without loss of time, whenever one wishes to read or note something; because of this the praiseworthy trade of the bookbinder is a necessary as useful.

Da die Bücher der aüßerliche Einband und die Decke, wenn sie wohlgemacht und reinlich gehalten werden, von beeden ziemlich lang bewahret und die Blätter nach Belieben ohne vielen Zeitverlust flüchtig herumbgeworfen, das jenige leichtlich aufzuschlagen vergönnen, was man zu suchen und etwan zu lesen oder auszuzeichnen beliebet; solcher Gestalt is das löbliche Handwerk der Buchbinder so nötig als nützlich.
[All from Buchbinder-Lob, Max Hettler Verlag, Stuttgart, 1959. This book is a treasury of anecdotes and references about the history of the book, bookbinding, the trades, and art of the book... Unfortunately, it does not provide formal citations for these.]

All these sentiments about bookbinding and bookbinders note the importance of the trade for the preservation of the texts, access to them, and as the climax of a holistic work. With the explosion in the printing of texts during the Reformation, the role of the bookbinder in their dissemination was clear to all.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deceitful Bookbinders in 1724

Georg Paul Hönn's Betrugs-Lexikon (1724), or an Encyclopedia of Deceits committed by the trades describes the myriad of shortcuts and other deceits committed by craftsman in the numerous trades that were parts of Guilds and other elements of society. During that time the Guilds controlled all aspects of a trade including what we would now consider protectionist practices such as not allowing other trades to perform the work of others such as binders selling books and vice-versa. Some of these protectionist aspects still exist today, though the guilds have lost a great deal of influence and power.

Hönn’s work was first published in 1721 in Coburg, Saxe-Coburg in central Germany, in an edition of 2000 copies, quite large for that time and was quickly sold out. As a result three more authorized editions were reprinted as well as pirated editions.1 The “encyclopedia” contained more than 300 articles on deceits.

Thank you to Peter Zillig of Cologne, Germany for posting the original German text of the article on bookbinders on his Vuscor blog.

Encyclopedia of Deceits, or a lexicon of deceits, wherein can be found most deceits and the means of countering them.

Bookbinders commit deceit when they:

  1. When they remove leaves or complete signatures from good books left for binding and then conceal this, or even claim this as a defect from the bookseller who left the books for binding.
  2. When they complete defective books for their good friends or clients by replacing them with complete works left by other clients and let the latter complete their now defective or missing works.
  3. When they work to create defective books in order to spite booksellers with whom they are not on good terms.
  4. When they carelessly misbind books, misfold signatures or trim these too closely, and then when these errors are brought to their attention blame the journeyman.
  5. When for their own advantage they divide into two or more volumes books that would be more appropriately bound as one volume.
  6. When they should bind a book in calfskin or vellum but instead use sheep and pass it off as calf.
  7. When they stall clients who have brought them books to be bound from week to week, and do not deliver the work when promised.
  8. When they have secret agreements with book printers to buy at a discount illicit reprints of publishers books in order to sell them as bound copies with great loss to the publishers.
  9. When they silver plate the metal clasps and bosses on prayer and hymn books, and sell them to unwary buyers as being made of pure silver.
  10. When they gild the edge of a book with fake gold, claim it to be real gold, and charge for gold.
  11. When they sell newly-bound publishers bindings under false pretexts and cause harm to the local booksellers who possess the sole rights to sell these.
  12. When they scrape clean old and dirty vellum bindings and sell these as new.
  13. When French or English volumes are shoddily handled and bound so that they attract moths and then quickly fall apart.
  14. When they bind the signatures and do not use as many sewing stations as they should and skip stations here and there or combine two or more signatures.
  15. When they insufficiently beat or size the signatures so as to save work and sizing.
  16. When they agree to fix prices among themselves for Bibles, hymnbooks, calenders, to arbitrarily raise prices.
  17. When they discretely file or trim down silver clasps and bosses that were included with books left for binding.
Measures to protect one against these deceits:
  1. That one does not give the binder any book that one has not conscientiously collated so that if there are mistakes the binder can be held accountable.
  2. That to prevent deceit, one takes the good advice of competent people, and upon receipt of a book from a binder examines it carefully and leafs through it to ensure that there are no defects or mistakes, and if any deceit is found the binder will be reported to the bookbinders’ guild for punishment.
  3. That they be forbidden from entering the profession of bookseller under any pretext, and to do will result in confiscation of their books and punishment for themselves.
Sources:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guild of Book Workers Journal Out


The 2009 issue of the Guild of Book Workers Journal is now out and it is a very impressive. The long wait has definitely been worth it and I would like to be the first to congratulate Cara Schlesinger and her staff on an amazing rebirth for the Journal. VERY nice selection of articles, lots of color, very nice (re)design, ... The Bone Folder appears on pages 48-63. In her foreword to the issue Cara writes:
... museums; and a translation of a 1922 German text in which a fictional binder engages his collector-client in a series of discussions about binding. As you read this particular piece, consider the similarities between the challenges faced by conservators and translators: how visible should the practitioner's hand be? How does one retain the essence of the original while making a piece accessible to a new population of readers? What sort of documentation should be provided for posterity?
Interesting questions and ones which I hope to discuss in the future. A letterpress/printing focused dialog from the same general time by Oldrich Menhart and translated by Philip Metzger, Evening Conversations of the Booklover Rubricius and the Printer Tympanus, will appear in Volume 7 of The Bonefolder and serve as a complement to Collin's text. Both are charmingly pedantic in their own way but provide valuable insight into the state of the crafts and craftsmanship during that time.

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.