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]


  1. Wow, this is absolutely amazing. Bookbinder's song.. What was this song for? I mean, do you know if this was sung in some sort of a particular occasion?

  2. Is this Song also available in German? Would be nice to have the Original along the translation.

    Thank You for sharing this!

  3. Probably like many things of this type sung at gatherings of bookbinders like guild meetings. Have not been able to find the original German, though trying to.