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...