Monday, November 8, 2021

Taking a Break

I know this blog has been very quiet for the past month and a half, but after a very busy summer and early fall, I decided to take a break from the books and decompress with some training. The trains have been long neglected, in need of a deep dusting and cleaning, and most of all just wanted to be run again. Fritz Otto agreed, helped, and got in on the fun. In some respects it was a very "meta" experience. There are a lot of bookbinding skills applied throughout the layout, too, particularly box making, as most of the structures are made of card, some kits, but most built from scratch using photos as a basis with photo-realistic pattern sheets.

So, while dusting, cleaning, and running trains, I will be thinking of next steps on a few bookish projects. First and foremost turning the research from my Pappband/Ur-Bradel workshop that I taught for the University of Iowa Center for the Book into some form of article for somewhere. I also want to finish my German-language version of the fish skin articles. I also want to finish some binding projects and start new ones, in addition to continuing to share all my bibliophilic rabbit holes. Mind you though, all at a more relaxed pace with little to no pressure.

What would YOU be interested in learning more about from the German binding traditions?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Down The Rabbit Holes For The William Anthony Conservation Lecture Series

Join me as I jump into some of my addictive, all-consuming, and yet, sustaining rabbit holes in Down the Rabbit Hole: Embracing experience and serendipity in a life of research, binding practice, and publishing, part of the William Anthony Conservation Lecture Series

The lecture will be at 6:00 CST on September 30, the workshop for students of the Center for the Book and staff of the Conservation and Collections Care Department  on the "Ur"-Bradel binding will be on October 1st and 2nd.

View the recording on the University of Iowa Libraries' YouTube Channel below or via this link. Lecture slides with notes can be downloaded here.


Below the adverts for the event.

For more information on the lecture, see the William Anthony Conservation Lecture Series page at the University of Iowa Libraries, or the events calendar.


Hope to see some of you there.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

More about W. Collin's Clavigo

Back in November of 2017 I shared images of a new W. Collin binding I acquired of Goethe's Clavigo. Below, the dealer's description. The title page was by E.R. Weiß, han-colored prints by v. Seckendorf, and bound in full vellum in 1918. It warrants mentioning that W. Collin was the name of the firm of Court bookbinders started by W[ilhelm] Collin with his son Georg Collin his successor. More about them in this post from 2013. After Georg's death on December 24th, 1918, the firm was managed by his wife Regina and then daughter Gertrude.

Clavigo. Ein Trauerspiel. München Verlag der Marées-Gesellschaft (R Piper & Co), 1918.

5 Bll., gest. Titel (von E. R. Weiß), 132 Seiten, Gr8° (23,4 x 17,6 cm), handgeb. Ganzpergamentbd. (sign. W. Collin Berlin) mit prunkvoller Ganzdeckel-Vergold., vergold. Innenfileten, Kopfgoldschnitt und olivgrünen Seidenmoiree-Vorsätzen. Die farbigen Illustrationen sind handkolorierte Wiedergaben von Emil Wöllner nach Aquarellen von Götz Freiherr von Seckendorf, der im August 1914 im Krieg gefallen war. Erschienen als 1. Druck der Marées-Gesellschaft in einer Auflage von 150 (insgesamt 200) nummerierten Exemplaren auf Bütten. Dies ist die Nummer 47. - Sehr gut erhaltenes Exemplar in einem bibliophilen und signierten Meistereinband, der verzierte Original-Umschlag mit eingebunden.

Goethe's Clavigo, 1918.

After finding my binding by W. Collin of Adolf von Menzel depicted in a mongraph, I decided to look at the list of bindings entered into Deutsche Einbandkunst, the Jakob-Krause-Bund exhibit of 1921, the catalog for which was produced by Ernst Collin.

The dates indicate the year bound.

Goethe. Clavigo. Prg (Parchment), Hand-tooled. 1918.
Bindings 9-12 were lent by Tito Körner. Who was he?

Georg Collin passed on December 24th, 1918. This was not the first copy of Clavigo bound at W. Collin. I introduced one published in 1774, and shared with me by a fellow collector on this blog in 2017. The designs are very similar, and the binding is not dated, none are. 

I think I may have a one of Georg Collin's last bindings bound at W. Collin. Whether it is the one exhibited can't be determined without images, it may have been the one published in 1774, or even another. Sadly, I am not aware of any pictures of the exhibition, anywhere. Still, exciting to speculate it may be my binding.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Textbook for Trade School Apprentices

Just received Der Fachunterricht der schmückenden Berufe, Buchbinder (1927) by Beyer u. Weißenmüller. It was written to accompany the instruction apprentices would receive in trade school,  supplementing what they would learn in their binderies. This specific manual was written for those in more remote, less resource rich areas, away from the major urban centers.

Professional Instruction for the Decorative
Trades - Bookbinding

Title page.

A note to the reader.
The exercises in this little volume should be solved by you independently. Given your practical experiences and knowledge, this should not be difficult. The trade specific descriptions are there to supplement what you know, and serve as encouragement to continue on and experiment, even outside of school. 

See also my post on "designing spines". 

How to draw ellipses. Always need to have a chapter
on drawing shapes, including geometric solids...

Design template for different binding types, from
stiffened paper to "better" quarter cloth. The template
suggests proportions, and thinking about
where what materials and colors are used.

Letterform basics...

Type, letter spacing, kerning.

Placing a title on cover and spine.

Experimenting with color and placement
on the binding.

Base color and the addition and lightening
with white. Now try this with other colors.
The colors are hand-painted in.

Edge treatments: Solid, sprinkled, marbled.
Note the variants. As before, experiment...

Tipped-in paste paper swatches.

More tip-ins, this time sprinkled papers.

Combining the elements: Edge treatment,
covering paper, and end paper.

Stiffened paper binding with a label.
Cloth spine with decorative paper sides.

Quarter cloth with cloth spine, marbled paper
sides, uncolored edges, and end paper.

Another quarter cloth with different color
combinations.

As apprentices left school at a young age
(early teens), they continued to receive
instruction in citizenship and social studies.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

W. Collin binding on v. Menzel

Back in September of 2020, I acquired the W. Collin binding on Adolf von Menzel depicted below. 

This weekend, I downloaded a copy of Deutsche Einbandkunst im ersten Jahrzehnt des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts by the great German bibliophile and author of the time G.A.E. Bogeng. Hathitrust is great for this sort of thing.

Title page, the book was published in [1911].

It was printed by orphans in Halle a. Salle.

Binding by Collin in cut leather (Lederschnitt) with dyed leather.

Hey, I recognize that book...

In my original post I had surmized the book was bound by the firm of W. Collin after 1918 based on the way it was signed, without the Hofbuchbinder (Court bookbinder). Since the book it was depicted in is from 1911 that clearly can't be the case. Good to know. Now to update that original post.


Saturday, July 17, 2021

Tool Talk 3: Edge Trimming Rule (Kantenlineal)

Edge trimming rules have been mentioned the German bookbinding literature at least since Greve in his Hand- und Lehrbuch der Buchbindekunst (1823) and L. Brade's illustrirtes Buchbinderbuch (1868 with various editions). These rules are used for cutting the boards down to their final size after they have been attached to the text block, either on the guard with spine piece or if laced on. The rules illustrated below have raised lips that are 3 and 5 mm wide. These are made from machined aluminum and were ordered from Schmedt. The ones I used as an apprentice in Germany were made of steel. In both cases, they were machined so that the ends adjacent to the lips were beveled.



To use, the rule is slipped under the outermost leaf with the board underneath. The lip is pressed tight to the edge of the book, and the excess is then cut off with a sharp blade. The beauty of these rules is that even if the book is out of square, the book will always have even squares.


I most commonly used the 3 mm rule, with the 5 mm rule being used for the ledger books like springback bindings that are beefier. I would love 2 mm and 4 mm as they align better with the board thickness I use. The way I learned, board thickness = size of squares.

Below a video of the tool in use.


I find these rules incredibly useful, especially for in-boards bindings.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Tool Talk 2 - Kaschiereisen (Frottoir/Grattoir)

The Kaschiereisen as this tool is known in German is made to shape and consolidate the spine of a book in backing where it was used as an alternative (or augmentation) to the hammer offering a high degree of control. Jeff Peachey has written about these tools several times, also sharing his growing collection. Most recently, Ulrich Widman "reintroduces" the tool to German bookbinding audiences with an upcoming article for the Meister der Einbandkunst Rundbrief (2021).

In the German bookbinding literature the tool has several spellings,  Cachiereisen/ Cachier-Eisen /Kaschiereisen/Kaschier-Eisen. The interchangeable "c" and "k" are very common in German, the "c" being connected to the French roots of a word, but also as an affectation from when French was considered superior. Cashier, comes from the French "cahier" meaning signature/quire, or in our context a tool for working/shaping/folding the signatures. Eisen = iron, the material the tool was often made of.

In its history, the Kaschiereisen was sometimes two tools, in French the grattoir had a toothy end that grabbed the folds and provided the friction to push the signatures over to form the shoulder. The frottoir was smooth and used to smooth the folds and finish the shaping of the spine and shoulder. It also served to scrape off excess adhesive and ensure that it penetrated into the space between signatures.

At left the Rücken-/ Cashierholz and at right the Cashiereisen
from plate 2 of Greve's Die Buchbindekunst, 1823.
The use of the tools is described on pages 214-15.

The use of the tool is also described on page 35 of Schäfer's Handbuch der Buchbinderkunst (1845). Schäfer refers to it as a Kratzeisen (scratch iron), and Reiber (burnisher) made of iron, these being distinct tools like the grattoir and frottoir. He also and issues warnings about the improper use of the tool and the damage it can cause. 

Paul Adam describes using a Cachiereisen to finish the backing work of the hammer. The shape at both ends is smooth and curved like a frottoir.

From Paul Adam's Der Bucheinband seine Technik
und seine Geschichte
, 1890 (pg 45).

In his Practical Bookbinding (1903), a translation of Die Praktischen Arbeiten des Buchbinders (1898), Adams writes that "the use of a tooth Cachier iron is strictly forbidden, but the round side of this tool may be used instead of a hammer" (pg. 59).

Use of the tool seems to have declined, but it continued to receive mentions in manuals. The best description of the tool appeared in Der Buchbinderlehrling (1937) as a two part article. The first part featured a picture of the tool with the question of "who knows what this is..." The Buchbinderlehrling was a magazine for bookbinding apprentices, and quizzes were a regular feature

The quiz in Der Buchbinderlehrling.
1. Who knows this tools, and what is it called?
2. For what task is it used?
3. How is it used?
4. Are there images showing how it is used

The tool in use from Der Buchbinderlehrling.

The bulk of the article featured 7 responses from apprentices, Meister, and others. The responses varied, with some going into detail and others being cautionary. They also referenced depictions in the literature, but the tool was unfamiliar to most.

Below images of these tools that I use.

It was made by Jeff Peachey, called a "backing tool",
and featured in his first catalog (link to 2nd catalog).
I love using this one on smaller, more delicate books.

My first Kaschiereisen, acquired early
in my career from a German binder

Jeff Peachey's latest, made of stainless steel.
It is a dream to use.
Order yours here!

Here some images and videos of the tool in use.

Backing/shaping the spine.


Smoothing the spine.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Tool Talk 1 - Fray Shield (Aufschabeblech)

 A looooooong time ago, not to long after I started this blog, I introduced the Aufschabebelch, a simple tool that one could purchase or make one's self. Below an image of it, also in use from 1806.

From plate II of Hendrik de Haas' De Boekbinder, 1806.
Fig 8. Het opvlas planje.
Fig 9. Het opvlasten der banden.
(PDF pg 174-76)

They were usually made of tin and the one I am most familiar with was shaped like in the image below. Why that shape and hole configuration? It's not explained, but is pretty much identical to the one I used as an apprentice in the mid 1980s.


(Halle a.d. Saale, 1909), plate 1.
Attaching the boards in the German Franzband tradition.
From from Wiese's Werkzeichnen für Buchbinder..., (Stuttgart, 1937).

Recently, I was invited to give a workshop on what I call the Ur-Bradel, the German Pappband structure that over the course of the centuries morphed into various flavors, often national, and of which all seem to have slightly different understandings. I won't get into those here, but in that structure, if the book was sewn on recessed cords, those cords were frayed out, paste was applied (often hide glue was applied to the guard (Ansetzfalz)), and then they were fanned out smoothly. The benefit was that this process resulted in sewing supports that were almost invisible under the endpapers when the book was done. That was the theory, because the extent to which the cords were frayed and fanned out varied by skill or time pressure.

The image below is from a cutaway model I making of one of these Ur-Bradels, ca 1800 and shows the cords frayed out and put down on the guard. The next step would be to attach the spine piece to the guard, then the boards, but I digress.

Fritz Otto did ok... Not atypical.

In the past I would have just teased the fibers of the cord apart with a needle then run them over a not to sharp paper/standard bookbinders' knife blade. Then I thought, perhaps Jeff Peachey could make me one. I sent him the image above and after a good bit of back and forth he sent me two prototypes to test out.

Fritz Otto showing off the two fray shield prototypes.
The shape is different from the one in German manuals... Will it matter?

Another view. The dimensions of the bottom one were what I asked for,
with a heavier steel used. The top, Jeff's reinterpretation.

In the end, I really liked Jeff's reinterpretation more.
You can even order your own from him now!

After teasing the fibers of the cord apart, they are slipped into
the notch and a bookbinders' knife is used to finish and make
then silky smooth.

Below a video in which I try out both to see which I liked better. There is no sound or narration.


As a surprise, Jeff even made one for Fritz Otto. He loved trying it out. Worked great, and he's glad to have it in his tool box.

Holding his "right-sized" Aufschabeblech.

Fraying out the cords...

Brushing the hide glue onto the guard...

Fanning out the frayed out cords on the guard.