Friday, June 19, 2015

Fritz and Trudi Eberhardt - An Oral History

Don Rash and his Boss Dog Press have been publishing a series of titles in the series of Eberhardtiana, the first was 2003's Rules for Bookbinders, now sold out. The most recent is Three Lectures, a compilation of three lectures given by Fritz Eberhardt.

Cover of GBW Journal showing tooling by Fritz Eberhardt

The Guild of Book Workers has just released what I hope is the first set of many digitized sets of their Journal. The oral history of the Eberhardts conducted by Valerie Metzler, and they discussed their life, their training, their time in the United States, and much more. It can be found in Volume 37, Number 2, 2002 and downloaded. Very much worth reading.

Fritz Eberhardt was born in Silesia (originally part of Germany; now part of Poland) in 1917, he suffered from polio at an early age, which resulted in a permanent limp. After an apprenticeship he studied bookbinding formally under Ignatz Wiemeler at the Leipzig Academy for Graphic Arts, and calligraphy under the prodigy Rudo Spemann, and later, in Offenbach, with Hermann Zapf. Following the end of the war, he walked out of the Russian occupied zone and into West Germany. There he met his future wife, Trudi Luffert, who was also a binder. In the early 1950s the Eberhardts came to Philadelphia, where he was employed by the Library Company. Within a few years they were able to move to the farm on Old Sumneytown Pike where they would cement their reputations as two of the finest American hand binders. In addition to his binding work, Eberhardt was internationally recognized for his calligraphy. Until his death in 1998, he was a continuing voice for the artistic and cultural value of bookbinding and book works, from his early dealings with the Philadelphia book world through the debates on standards and the beginnings of institutional book arts instruction, as well as a proponent of a more professional approach for our book arts organizations. Don Rash was among his most accomplished students.

Depicted is his binding on Felix Timmermans, Pieter Bruegel, 1950, featuring his signature hand-cut finishing tools. [From the Guild of Book Workers 100th Anniversary Exhibition Retrospective]

Here a link to his obituary from the Abbey Newsletter at CoOL.

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