Saturday, February 22, 2020

Old Man and the Sea

We saw Fritz Otto helping turn that delicious mackerel into parchment. Here the binding one of the half-skins was used on, Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. The other half goes in the skin archive. Below the binding I just completed.

Here the top-edge Fritz Otto made. Acrylics in paste with some stippling for waves...
The book is still in-process, and the colored flyleaf will be tipped to the next leaf
just along the fore-edge as one of the last steps.

The mackerel skin was backed with gray Morike paper and cut out to match the
contours of the skin. The mackerel is a standing for the swordfish in the story.
Scars/distressed areas on the skin represent the  life and death struggle of fish and Santiago.

The book was sewn on three thongs of shark leather, a metaphor
for the sharks that ate Santiago's swordfish...

This is a Dorfner-style open-joint binding. The parchment
was not covered or trimmed back, so shows the contours
of the fish. Doublure and flyleaf Cave Paper "layered indigo day."

The boards were covered in Pergamena dyed goat
parchment, title stamped in graphite foil. 

Here the completed binding. Shark thong ends capped by weathered
wood representing Santiago's boat. 

To learn more about making parchment from fish, see:
"Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding
Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Holz-Werkzeuge für Buchbindereien (Wooden tools)

Habe vor kurzer Zeit noch einen Katalog für Buchbindereibedarf erworben. Der unten, Holz-Werkzeuge für Buchbindereien, stammt von der Firma Edmund Junghändel in Nürnberg, 1927. Drin sind allerlei Pressen, Heftladen, Vergoldekästen und sonstiges. Junghändel war u.A. Fachgeschäft für Buchbinderei-Bedarf, Grosshandlung für Buntpapiere und verkaufte auch Maschinen für die gesamte Papierindustrie.

Recently acquired another bookbinding supply catalog for my library. The one below, Holz-Werkzeuge für Buchbindereien, focuses on wooden presses and related equipment for binderies. It was issued by the firm of Edmund Junghändel in Nuremberg, 1927. Junghändel also sold other binding supplies, was a wholesaler for decorated papers, and sold machines for all paper industries.



View below or download here.



Ich konnte auch eine Rechnung der Firma erwerben für 3.5 meter schwarzes Calico. Die ist zwar nicht von 1927, sondern 1914, zeigt aber deren Gebäude an der Molkestrasse 1.

I could also acquire an invoice from the company for 33.5 meters of black calico bookcloth. The invoice is not from 1927, but rather 1914, and shows their building at Molkestrasse 1.


Anhand der Abbildung der Firma, daß auch die "Burg" links im Hintergrund zeigt, ist der Ort wo die Firma stand jetzt eine Schule, und die Molkestrasse auf der Seite ein Radweg geworden.

Based on the image on the invoice that also shows the "Burg" in the old part of the city at top left, the location of the company is now a school, and Moltkestrasse turned into a bike path alongside.



Saturday, February 8, 2020

Springback Fine Binding

I love springback bindings, especially the German version I learned during my apprenticeship. Below images of one I completed on the textblock of the exhibit catalog for L'Infinito, one of those international bookbinding competition and exhibitions. This one was organized by the Provincia di Macerata. Competitors were asked to design bindings for the poem L'Infinito by Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837). The catalog has a section for the 125 bindings that formed the exhibition and are considered the best of the entries submitted. The remaining 475 submissions are divided by national school and reproduced without commentary. I lifted the description from Oak Knoll Books who have a copy of the catalog available in case someone wants to bind it. ;-) I never bought the set book for the exhibit, but did get the catalog as I have a great weakness for exhibit catalogs for my personal library.

Exhibit catalogs in my library. An intervention might be called for...

This all makes for a very hefty tome, just begging for a springback binding. I wanted to show the underlying structure and love veiney calf parchment. This is what I came up with:

German-style springback; sewn on three tapes with endsheets of Roma paper; graphite top edge; red leather wrapped endband; covered with two veined calf vellum panels at top and bottom with center panel painted with textured acrylic; spine and sewing exposed in center panel and painted with textured acrylics; title stamped in gold. 28 x 25.5 x 6.5 cm. Bound 2004.

Parchment panels that wrapped around at head and tail. 

Detail of spine with the book closed.

Detail of spine with the book opened.

Looking down the "hollow" of the spine.
My tutorial for the German style of springback can be viewed here and downloaded here.

Just make sure the spring isn't too "strong." 😉

Buchbinder-Fachschule Berlin

Ernst Collin (5.31.1886-12.1942), the grandson of Wilhelm and son of Georg, followed in the family tradition and learned the trade of bookbinder initially. However, where he apprenticed and worked during his journeyman years is not known. Likewise, nothing is known about his childhood or personal life beyond what he wrote about his grandfather and father.

What little we do know comes from Ernst’s writings, where he described studying for a semester under Paul Kersten in the first class of the Berliner Buchbinderfachschule Klasse für Kunstbuchbinderei directed by Gustav Slaby in 1904.1 G.A.E. Bogeng wrote in his introduction to Collin’s antiquarian catalog that he worked as a bookbinder for many years in Germany and England.2 Ultimately, Ernst chose to follow a different path: antiquarian and writer.

Über Ernst Collin (31.5.1886-[12.1942]) selbst ist sehr wenig bekannt, obwohl er in einer kleinen Anzahl von Aufsätzen Details über seinen Werdegang erwähnt hat. Aus diesen wissen wir, dass er das Buchbinderhandwerk erlernt hat, doch nicht, ob und wo er eine Lehre absolviert hat. Ebensowenig ist bekannt, wie er zum Schreiben gefunden hat.

Als Buchbinder erwähnt wurde er in seinem Aufsatz „Ein viertel Jahrhundert kunstbuchbinder-ischer
Erziehung - 25 Jahre Berliner Kunstklasse“ wo er schrieb, daß er 1904 ein Semester lang bei Paul Kersten studiert hat, in der ersten Klasse dieser Schule überhaupt.1 Letzen Endes schlug Collin aber eine andere Laufbahn ein, die des Antiquars und Schriftstellers.


Advertisement for the Buchbinder-Fachschule, 1921.
From L. Brades illustriertes Buchbinderbuch, edited and reworked by Paul Kersten, 1921.






  1. Collin, Ernst. “Ein viertel Jahrhundert kunstbuchbinderischer Erziehung - 25 Jahre Berliner Kunstklasse.“ Archiv für Buchbinderei, Vol. 29, Nr. 9, 1929. (106-108)  
  2. Bücher für den Bibliophilen. Corvinus-Antiquariat Ernst Collin GMBH. [1923]

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Ignatz Wiemeler and Gerhard Gerlach Together at MoMA

MoMA in NYC has placed records of its exhibitions from the founding in 1929 to the present online. Included are some catalogs, some images of the installed exhibits, checklists, and press releases in some combination and to varying degrees. While not on display at the same time, both Ignatz Wiemeler and Gerhard Gerlach exhibited at MoMA.

Ignatz Wiemeler, Modern Bookbinder: [exhibition], October 2nd to October 24th, 1935.

Among them is the catalog to the 1935 exhibit, Ignatz Wiemeler, Modern Bookbinder!

Cover to Ignatz Wiemeler, Modern Bookbinder

The catalog also references the article "Bookbinding, Old and New" by Wiemeler that was published in The Dolphin, No. 1, 1933. The complete run of The Dolphin is online at Carnegie Mellon University. This was his only publication in English.

Wiemeler student Gerhard Gerlach was himself part of an exhibit titled The Arts in Therapy
February 3–March 7, 1943. The items in the exhibition represented "a selection from a nationwide competition, open to all American artists and craftsmen, for new designs and objects in those crafts acknowledged to have therapeutic and recreational value for disable ad convalencent members of the Armed Forces."

In the category "projects for patients," Gerlach received an "honorary award" with a Morris Levine for a lap board that was used for binding. Gerlach die the bookbinding. Levine was credited for the lap board. A lap board can be seen at right in the image from the exhibition below.

Lap board at right.

These kinds of activities, including for veterans were not unique to the United States. A contemporary example from Germany was Ruth Zechlin's Soldaten Werkbuch für Freizeit und Genesung. Ravensburg: Otto Maier Verlag, 1943 (2nd ed). It was designed for convalescing soldiers and those on leave, and starts off with instructions for making a Bett-tisch (bed table) for making the quite complex projects on. These include wood working, origami,bookbinding, dolls, all manner of crafts really. See some images showing the cover with pasted-on label, title page, the Bett-Tisch, and examples of bookbinding in the post "Bookbinding for Rehabilitation." More articles here.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Lunch Instead of Fish Skin Binding

Back before Christmas, Fritz Otto was on vacation in Greece (aka Wegmans like any good fisherman) and caught a bunch of sardines. Finally, a right-sized fish he could work from start to finish for his own binding(s).


Today, pulled them out of the freezer to practice his flaying skills...

Catch of the day.

Filleting was the easy part.

The Peachey lifting knife was great!

Filleting was the easy part, but alas, the skin was too thin to get off. He also tried pulling it off of the intact fish but that was even less successful. Alas..., nothing left to do but make lunch for himself.

Just fried in a little olive oil with pepper. Didn't need more for a tasty meal.

Rülps! (How Germans Burp) That was delicious!
So, defeated in making parchment, successful in preparing a meal.

To learn more about making parchment from fish, see
"Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding
Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019)