Friday, December 23, 2022

Meisterhafte Unikate - 100th Anniversary of Meister der Einbandkunst

Received a fantastic gift today from a friend in the Pirckheimer Gesellschaft, the catalog to Meister der Einbandkunst's 100th anniversary exhibition Meisterhafte Unikate (Unique Masterly Bindings).

Meister der Einbandkunst
Meisterhafte Unikate: 100 Jahre Einbandkunst

VERY pleased to see numerous Ernst Collin citations, and very pleasantly surprised to see my binding of the first (1927) Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst illustrated. It was bound at E.A. Enders in Leipzig. I acquired the binding 1988ish when a dealer brought it to Bill Minter's studio where I was working for deacidification. Yes, I paid Bill for the deacidification.

Based on one citation of an article by Otto Pfaff, I also got the sense that my article "Ernst Collin und sein Pressbengel: Eine Spurensuche zum Buchbinder, Schriftsteller, Antiquar und Bibliophilen" that was published in the Pirckheimer Gesellschaft's Marginalien, Zeitschrift für Buchkunst und Bibliophilie was "helpful".

Heute ein wunderbares Geschenk bekommen, den Katalog Meisterhafte Unikate: 100 Jahre Einbandkunst. Ich habe mich sehr über die vielen Ernst Collin Zitate gefreut, aber auch besonders für die Abbildung von meinem Exemplar des Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst, 1927ish gebunden bei E.A. Enders. Ich bekam auch den Eindruck, daß mein Artikel "Ernst Collin und sein Pressbengel: Eine Spurensuche zum Buchbinder, Schriftsteller, Antiquar und Bibliophilen," der in den Marginalien, Zeitschrift für Buchkunst und Bibliophilie der Pirckheimer Gesellschaft erschien, zu dem Zitat von Otto Pfaffs Artikel "verholfen" hat.

Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst, 1927
Bound at E.A. Enders
Image from Meisterhafte Unikate

Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst, 1927
Bound at E.A. Enders
Collection of Peter D. Verheyen

Friday, June 17, 2022

More decorated papers from Deutsche Einbandkunst, 1921

I recently acquired 2 more copies of the catalog to Deutsche Einbandkunst edited by, and also with an article by, Ernst Collin. Why more copies, well the catalog was produced in two versions, a deluxe of twenty unbound copies on handmade wove rag (I-XX), with the remaining copies (21-2,000) on a machine-made wove rag paper. My copy of the deluxe edition (Nr. XX) was bound in an unsigned ¼ leather binding with cloth sides and gilt top edge. It is the regular edition copies in their decorated  paper wrappers made or provided by ten different decorated papermakers.

Copy # 852, paper made by Theo Paul Hermann, Leipzig.
This is a printed paste paper (Kleisterdruck)

Copy # 921, paper made by Anne-Marie Irmler, Berlin.
An expressionistic stenciled paper, "schabloniertes Papier."
She is mentioned in an article that appeared in the Papier-Fabrikant,
a paper trades publication. (749-750)

Not going to make a habit of aquiring more copies unless the papers really grab me... 😂

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Colliniana 2021-22 - Ernst Collin Updates

Today, on Ernst Collin's birthday, I once again share an overview of findings from the past year. For a variety of reasons, things have slowed down around this blog and my ongoing research around Ernst and his family of W. Collin. Reasons include the copyright "wall" that is moving forward a year at a time, but also less time and energy on my part. We'll call it burn out that affects much more than this work. That said, there were some exciting moments. That said, almost none of what I have found and learned would have been possible without digitized collections such as HathiTrust and the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.

My article 'Ernst Collin und sein Pressbengel: Eine Spurensuche zum Buchbinder, Schriftsteller, Antiquar und Bibliophilen' appeared in the Marginalien of the Pirckheimer Gesellschaft, a German bibliophilic organization originally based in Berlin. With this article, I formally reintroduced Ernst Collin and his family to those they bound for, and he wrote for. The article also shared some findings "discovered" since Die Collins / The Collins appeared in 2016.

Opening spread of the article. On the right Ernst Collin's exlibris
by  Walter Kampmann. The exlibris was included in the first
volume of Die Heftlade.

We know that Ernst Collin wrote for a very wide range of publications, so I was not surprised by the advertising leaflet for Dornemann I found bound in with several Paul Kersten texts on finishing and tooling that someone had compiled. Also bound in were several more leaflets for Dornemann by Kersten. These kinds of things are rather ephemeral, and I was not able to find the ones I have in the catalog of the German National Library, that has a large collection. Dornemann was one of the largest manufacturers of brass finishing tools and type in Germany, and the pallets and gouges I have were made by them.

Brass type for the hand-finisher. [n.d.] 

However, most of all, I was absolutely surprised to have discovered a copy of the deluxe edition of Ernst's Pressbengel bound in parchment when I really wasn't looking. Ordered and now in my collection of the editions of this work. There were a total of 30 copies of the deluxe that could be ordered in parchment or leather, bindings by Hübel & Denck, Leipzig.

Printed in Didot-Antiqua onto VERY heavy/stiff Zanders ragpaper.
This is number 7. Sadly, they weren't signed.

We'll see if a copy of the deluxe in leather ever appears on my screen...

I also continue to find reference to the Pressbengel, Die Heftlade, and Paul Kersten by Ernst Collin in book trade publications. Below a listing from September 23, 1922 for the Pressbengel in the Wöchentliches Verzeichnis der erschienenen und der vorbereiteten Neuigkeiten des deutschen Buchhandels published by the Deutsche Bücherei. The Wöchentliches Verzeichnis indicated new publications. There was also a review in the Börsenblatt für den deutschen Buchhandel, 30 October, 1922.

Note the prices. This was still relatively early in the period
of hyperinflation. These prices would have reflected the values in
the paper money of the time...

The Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde published a continuation of the "discussion" around the Pressbengel, as well as a brief "review" of Collin's three publications mentioned above. More about the "discussion" here.

Then, under "this makes me happy", mention on Facebook of my downloadable sheets for binding my translation of the Pressbengel (The Bone Folder). This was shared by a bindery in Whitley Bay, UK:

Just recently I came across a website with a free download of "The Bone Folder" by Ernst Collin. A very readable little book, it was first published in 1922 and takes the form of a conversation between a book lover and a bookbinder. The imposition has already been done, and it folds into five sections. It would make a nice little project for members who have completed our basic course. I have run off some extra labels if anyone would like to bind up their own copy. The website where it can be found is

That's what the sheets are there for, and I'm very glad to see them being shared. Download link in the left panel or here.

In the Berliner Börsen-Zeitung of April 10, 1924 (a kind of Wall Street Journal) I found a reference to the "hiatus" during 1923 of the Heftlade, the journal Ernst Collin published for the Jakob-Krause-Bund. 1923 was the worst of the period of hyperinflation... The brief article mentions that the Heftlade was back with 2 issues and was looking forward to the future... Sadly, that was it, except for a seemingly random issue in 1925.

Downloading another article from HathiTrust, I was very pleased to discover that a W. Collin binding I have was depicted in Deutsche Einbandkunst im ersten Jahrzehnt des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts by the great German bibliophile and author of the time G.A.E. Bogeng.

W. Collin binding on Adolf von Menzel.

My work around Ernst Collin and W. Collin was also an integral part of my talk, Down the Rabbit Hole: Embracing experience and serendipity in a life of research, binding practice, and publishing, given to the William Anthony Conservation Lecture series at the University of Iowa on September 30th, 2021. The Collins were one of the three rabbit holes I discussed, one I am still glad to be lost in.

Finally, while not technically citing Die Collins / The Collins or this blog, I was glad to see both included with paraphrasing, images, and the references of the Tagebuch der Buchbinderei und Druckweiterverarbeitung (Band 4, 19. Jahrhundert) that was compiled by Hans Joachim Laue. The self-published volume presents events in the history of bookbinding and the book trades with an entry per day. I look forward to Band 5, the 20th century. 

My to-do list includes entering many of these references into my database of Ernst Collin's writings...

Monday, April 18, 2022

Promotional Leaflet by Ernst Collin for Dornemann & Co.

Back in September 2021 I acquired a binding containing two small publications by Paul Kersten and 5 advertising leaflets for type holders and brass type made by Dornemann & Co. in Magdeburg. Two were written by Paul Kersten, two unattributed, and one is by Ernst Collin. Collin was  no stranger to commercial work, also having written articles for Wilhelm Leo that were included in a calendar that they published annually.

P. Kersten. Geometrisches Zeichnen u Handvergoldung.
The title is hand letter on the cloth.

Works included in the binding are:

  • Kersten, Paul. Geometrisches Zeichnen für Buchbinder. Verlag des Allgemeinen Anzeigers für Buchbindereien, Stuttgart, 1928. (Geometric Diagramming for Bookbinders)
    • This text came out in a new edition in 1935 with one section rewritten to reflect the new power structure - how to properly represent the swastika. Perhaps a post for another day.
  • Kersten, Paul. Lehrbuch der Handvergoldung: Eine Anleitung zum Selbsterlernen. Verlag von Wilhelm Knapp, Halle a. Saale, 1930. (Manual for Finishing: Instructions for learning on ones own)

Werbeschriften (Advertising leaflets):

  • Kersten, Paul. Etwas über Schriftkästen. Dornemann & Co., Magdeburg, [s.d.] (About Typeholders)
  • Kersten, Paul. Messing- oder Blei-Schriften. Werbeschrift Nr. 4. Dornemann & Co., Magdeburg, [s.d.] (Brass or Lead Type)
  • [s.n.]. Schriftkästen. Dornemann & Co., Magdeburg, 1928. 
  • [s.n.]. Messingschrift-Giesserei Dornemann & Co., Magdeburg. Werbeschrift Nr. 8, Dornemann & Co., Magdeburg, [s.d.]. (Brass Type Foundery Dornemann & Co., Magdeburg - about the foundery) Written in German, French, English, Spanish. (Boîtes, Typeholders, Cajetínes Composteurs, Lettering Pallets)
  • Collin, Ernst. Messingschriften für den Handvergolder. Werbeschrift Nr. 3, Dornemann & Co., Magdeburg, [s.d.]. (Brass Type for Gold Finishers)

While the German National Library has others of the series of Werbeschriften in its catalog, these do not appear...

Here the English page of Messingschrift-Giesserei Dornemann & Co. These sentiments are also reflected in Collin's leaflet.

Brass Type for Hand=Finishing!

We are the only firm in Germany able to cast Brass Type for hand=tooling from instruments and matrices. This is the only process giving _bsolute guarantee for producing the highest grade type. Our Founts are famous for their clear face and deep cut even in the smallest sizes, the alignment of the letters is perfectly true and the height absolutely correct. The composition of metal used by us proves to have greatest resistance power and with care our type is practically indestructible, whilst owing to mass production our prices can be considered reasonable taking info consideration the high finish.

Our brass type is known all over the globe where book finishers pride themselves in turning out good bindings and letterings, and both at home and abroad the superior quality of our productions are universally acknowledged. One of fhe best known craftsmen in Paris considers 

"The name of Dornemann is synonymous with perfection!"

We are constantly endeavouring to keep our output up to the highest standard of efficiency as regards artistic and modern perfection, and our type will be found most durable. All goldfinishers requiring type, ornaments, and gilding tools for handlettering should apply fo us for samples and catalogues.

[Edit: To learn how these Dornemann type faces were cast, read "Sandcasting brass types for bookbinders" on Dan Reynold's Type Off  blog.

Below the German text of Collin's pamphlet.

When I returned from my apprenticeship in Germany, I ordered a basic set of pallets and gouges for finishing from via the West German distributor for Dornemann, still in Magdeburg and in the DDR.

Dornemann also produced a set of pallets and gouges designed by Ignatz Wiemeler, one of the finest design binders, ever.

In 1987, pre-reunification the pallets were 229  and the gouges 285 Deutsch Marks. In 1991 I ordered the other set of gouges and the price had increased to 557 Deutsch Marks. For this Wessi, it would have been smarter to buy all in 1987, but who would have known the wall would come down 2 years later. All in all, good that it came down.

Looking east and at the building for the State Publisher of the DDR.
This picture and the next were taken by me in November 1984.
More from that visit and the one in December 1989 here.

Looking over the wall. The image was taken with a telephoto.
Between the Wall (Ebertstrasse) and the Staatsverlag (Wilhelmstrasse)
was once Hitlers bunker... Now the "death strip" has been filled in with buildings,
but just to the left of this picture is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

History is everywhere, and Ernst Collin and his family were certainly a part of it on many levels.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Binding of a Book, Film and Manual, 1936.

First post on bookbinding history, manuals, all the things that were usually featured on this blog since the end of 2021.

Training in the trades in Germany was very regulated and standardized with training in the apprentices bindery, comprehensive manuals, trade school and other workshops all coordinated with each other. Exams and the pieces and skills to be demonstrated were the same across the country each year as well. The intent was that binderies and the Meister knew what they could [theoretically] expect from each new journeyman with the latter expected to arrive with their tools and ready to work from day one...

Das Einbinden eines Buches (The Binding of a Book) is a very basic manual that described the construction of a Deckenband (case binding in the German (Bradelesque) tradition). As is common, lots of text with a few illustrations. What makes this text unique in my experience with the German literature is that it was published to accompany a silent film in two parts in which the steps are demonstrated. The book and film were produced by Georg Netzband (instructor for diagraming) and the Reichstelle fur den Unterrichtsfilm (National office for instructional films) in 1936.

The film was released in two parts:

  • Part 1: The endpapers; sewing; sewing supports.
  • Part 2: Rounding; the book cover (case). 
Part 2 begins with a history of bookbinding, but in a sign of the times concludes this history with a mention of the binding of Hitler's Mein Kampf that written on parchment, embellished with ornaments of German plants, total weight of this presentation binding, 70 pounds... It was presented to Hitler at the annual day of the trades (Handwerkertag) in 1936. The binding was depicted and described in the Archiv für Buchbinderei, 1936 (pp 46-48).

Here the complete film with both parts combined by me.

Interesting to me the construction of the hooked endpaper. The diagram is below. Not illustrated in the video (starting at 2:12) is the attaching of the reinforcing cloth ("Shirting", a starched muslin-like fabric), the endpaper being just paper. The cloth would strengthen the joint and connection though... The "fliegender Falz" a "guard" is used to attach the case to the textblock before putting down the pastedowns.

The endpaper construction.

After folding, and the sawing in for the recessed cords, these endpapers get hooked around the first and last sections for sewing.

Hooking the endpapers around the 1st and last sections.

After sewing and forwarding (the cords get untwisted and fanned out onto the guard - see also this post), the case gets constructed, and spine covered. In this case (pun intended) it will be a quarter binding with corners. The case then gets attached to the textblock (at 19:37) by way of the "fliegender Falz". This ensures that everything fits before attaching corners covering sides, and putting down the pastedowns.

Gluing out the guard to adhere the case. Note the frayed out cords.

In many respects, the steps and techniques demonstrated and described go back to the 18th/19th century roots of this structure as it would have been applied by the trade. The completed book can be as utilitarian or fancied up as desired.

I presented a hands-on workshop for the University of Iowa Libraries and Center for the Book at the end of September on this topic and will be transforming my workshop handout with comprehensive review of the literature into an article for the Guild of Book Workers Journal over the course of this year. Everything is mostly there, but loose ends to connect...

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Fritz Otto Photographing Buchbinderei

Despite how easy it is to take pictures these days, Fritz Otto prefers black and white film. It's the tones and graininess he likes. Here we took some interior images of Buchbinderei before putting it back on the layout. The black and white images he took using a self-timer, though it was very hard to hold still for those 1-2 seconds.

All images shot on Ilford HP5 400 speed black and white film using a tripod and cable release for these 1-2 second average exposures. And no, I did not forget the Farbfilm. Lighting was provided by the cool white fluorescent in the task light visible in the first image below.

Taking a photo of the little scene.

Here an up-close view.

Holding v-e-r-y still.

An overhead with the roof off.

Putting the roof back on.

And, back to the layout it went...

Friday, January 14, 2022

Bindery Done

There was once a bindery in Berlin that was situated under railroad tracks... Incorporating that into my train layout seemed like a wonderful way to combine interests...

This is the concluding post of my "bindery" thread, wrapping up my big push in the last week or so to outfit the interior of the bindery. Shelves and cabinet fronts downloaded from Scalescenes, a few shelves ordered (3-d printed and laser cut) that still require work, but the heavy lifting of workbench, counter tops, board shear, Prägnant stamping press, and standing press were all scratch built to 1:87 or thereabouts. As a frame of reference most figures are just under 2cm tall, and "standard" bench height is about 1cm high.

Not sure why I do this to myself as it would have been so much easier to just glue in some photos from a bindery, set back behind the [grimy] window to make it look realish. What I do know is that it wouldn't have been half as much fun. Bonus, Fritz Otto and his smaller hands helped out a lot.

Counters and shelves assembled. That dropped section is
that way for a reason. 😉

Bench assembled. It has storage shelves
underneath for board and paper.
The black things are parts for the board shear.

No, that's not a Star Wars TIE fighter... Just board shear parts.

The assembled board shear, really just a massively over-sized
paper/sheet metal cutter. Note the blade...

Bindery staff debating the position of the blade when not in use...
Down like above, ...

..., or up like here. Most colleagues seem to say down.
I have mine up, so it's ready to use...
Yes, the blade moves.

Next piece of equipment, the Prägnant stamping press.
I loved using this as an apprentice because it was very easy to
adjust and you could see exactly where the type was going...
More here on Instagram.

See where the Prägnant stamping press goes.
Lower than the counters is the ideal working height.

Last big piece of equipment, a standing press. Still want to make
some hand-/finishing-presses, but yikes...
Note the posters on walls.

The posters for the bindery walls pull together a lot of threads from my bookbinding
related life, from Ernst Collin and W. Collin, to Babette, to Werner Kiessig,
to apprentice journal cartoons and bindery advertising.
Several also reference women binders, and this is a woman run bindery.

The bindery has a copper clad roof, too. And, yes, it is removable
to get the best view of the details, and light it up, sort of. 
Still some details to add like awnings over the side door and windows.

Also going to replace the windows. I liked the griminess,
but when sealing it with mat spray it got too cloudy.
It's good to have clean windows, and this is Germany after all.

Looking in through the new windows.

And more windows you can see through. Also added some window boxes an awning above.

We're closed now, but it looks like someone left their bike outside.
Hopefully, it'll still be there in the morning.

Still to do beyond the things already mentioned, making some Potemkinish stacks of work in progress, and hanging a shingle from the facade. Loving how this looks, and glad to have this model on my train layout, especially as it ties together so many personal experiences and research interests.

Getting the windows washed for the public opening of Buchbinderei.
The bike seems to have made it through the night unscathed.

Buchbinderei at night. Everyone is working late...

Buchbinderei is also no more, the space having become Tipico, a betting salon. As can be expected, the facade was repainted as well. I will imagine that the original Buchbinderi is just hidden beneath the sign... 

Tipico, formerly Buchbinderei, in Berlin.
Photo by
Danke für die Aufnahme.