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 in 1910. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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...

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