"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
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.
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.
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.
|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.