Showing posts with label Bone Folder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bone Folder. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Bone Folder as Bound by Marc Hammond

Congratulations Marc! Absolutely beautiful and honored by the binding.

The Bone Folder was written by Ernst Collin as Der Pressbengel, translated by me, and printed by Don Rash's Boss Dog Press with photos by John (Hans) Schiff. Order information at left. Unbound sheets are sold out.

Below the post on Instagram,

The 1st Place winner in the "Bound Together" bookbinding exhibit is a binding of “The Bone Folder" by #NBSSalumni Marc Hammonds BB ’17 @marc.hammo. . Marc says, “Much of the subject of The Bone Folder relates to traditional bookbinding techniques. My inspiration stems from the raised sewing supports and endband cores used in historic bookbinding to attach the boards. In my design, they are illustrated by leather onlays and dots tooled with gold leaf. The goal I had in mind was to craft a very contemporary binding with a design which would allude to traditional techniques.” . “The Bone Folder” was written by Ernst Collins as Der Pressbengel, translated by Peter D. Verheyen @pdverheyen, and printed by Boss Dog Press. . See photos of Marc's book process here, including the titling on the spine. This is a full leather binding with onlays, dots tooled with gold leaf, and Diane Bond paste paper endpapers. . Come see the book in "Bound Together," open until tomorrow. it will also be in the 20th Annual Celebration of Craft: Student & Alumni Exhibit, opening May 1, 2019. More info: . #boundtogether #boundtogetherbooks #bookbinding #bookbindingtools #bookbinder #bookbinders #bonefolder #thebonefolder #bookbindersdesign #bookart #finebinding #bookbindingexhibition #acc2019 #bookstagram #books
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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Boss Dog Press Bone Folder in Full Production

The Boss Dog Press Bone Folder is in full production and heading into the home stretch! Don Rash and his assistants have done a beautiful job with the printing and binding. As described in the prospectus, the deluxe edition is bound in quarter leather with hidden corners and pastepapers on the sides. [Edit: More also on the Boss Dog Press site]

Deluxe edition in quarter leather with pastepaper sides

Full production, deluxe in the front, regular in full paper behind

The regular edition is covered in full pastepaper with printed paper labels on spine and front board.

Full production,  regular in full paper in the front, deluxe behind
Below, the title spread from one of the copies I have bound with a facsimile of the original 1922 edition of Der Pressbengel as a frontispiece.

The title spread

I'm going to say that I'm floored by how beautifully these are looking - very much in keeping with an aesthetic Ernst Collin would have approved of, and enjoyed.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Bone Folder Printing DONE

The printing is done, and even the printer can't believe it!

About 2.5 weeks ago I signed LOTS of colophons and mailed them back to the Boss Dog Press while they finished the title pages and frontispieces...

Then today, a box arrived with my copies in sheets to bind for the Guild of Book Workers' Formation exhibition. Great timing as I am off of work until January 3rd, so hoping to get through all the forwarding.

Final pre-sewing trim...

Don Rash and his Boss Dog Press did a really beautiful job printing this. Orders for sheets will go out shortly, and then binding starts next month!

The wait has been more than worth it. More details about the edition and ordering information here.

Thank you Don!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Bone Folder Design Prototypes

While waiting for the Boss Dog Press to complete the printing of the fine press edition of my translation of Ernst Collin's Der Pressbengel (as The Bone Folder), I decided to experiment with some design ideas on the sheets I offer for download. While the format of these is 8.5" x 11" folded in half, the fine press edition will have a trim size of 9" x 12."

N.b. The Boss Dog's printing is almost complete, and will have been more than worth the wait. Like a fine wine or beer.

Binding 1, Dorfner/de Gonet style:

The design is a play on the question and answer dialog of the text. Sewing supports are vellum back with pared leather to give a more 3-dimension effect. Leather on spine is natural Niger leather and on boards is Harmatan with chagrin for the low relief onlays.

Top edge in graphite with hand sewn endbands. The image also shows the open joint structure of the Dorfner/de Gonet style

Collaged doublures and flyleaves with dilute colored paste washes. Base of the collage is Collin's original text in German, with onlays from articles and books on topics referenced in the book that were written by Collin.
I was inspired to try this by some of the work of Mark Cockram, but mine pale in comparison... Still, I think they work here.

Binding 2, Danish millimeter style:

The Danish millimeter is best described in English by John Hyltoft who presented on it at the Guild of Book Workers 1995 Standards conference (starts on PDF page 33). See his presentation handout here.

Spine covered in salmon parchment with pastepaper boards, invisible salmon parchment corners.
I describe making the salmon parchment here. It was very nice to work with and I still have lots...

Pastepaper doublures and flyleaves that continue the dark to light progression from the cover.
Top edge in graphite with endbands of pastepaper wrapped around a thread core.

Detail of salmon parchment and pastepaper at spine.

If anyone who downloaded the sheets would like to share their binding, send me an email using the "contact" link at top right. I'd love see and perhaps even share...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Neuere Pressbengel Auflagen | Later Pressbengel Editions

Der Pressbengel von Ernst Collin erschien 1922 in einer Auflage von 1000 normalen Exemplaren, und  30 Exemplaren auf Zandersbütten die handschriftlich signiert und numeriert wurden.

Ab 1984 wurde Der Pressbengel vom Mandragora Verlag in mehreren illustrierten Auflagen mit Einleitung von Gustav Moessner neu herausgegeben. Größe der ersten Auflage war 1000 Exemplare, von der 150 Exemplare als Edelpappband mit handgemachtem Buntpapier, 500 Exemplare als Pappband und 350 in losen Bogen zum Einbinden erschienen. Die zweite Auflage erschien 1989 in 1000 Exemplaren. Illustriert wurden diese Auflagen von Leopold Reiser. Von der dritten Auflage von 1992 mit Illustrationen von Andreas Raub fehlen die Angaben zu der Anzahl von Exemplaren. Es gab auch eine „Geschenkauflage“ basierend auf der 2ten Auflage, wie die zum 25ten Jubiläum der Buchbinderei Hans Ehe.

Ernst Collin's Pressbengel first appeared 1922 in a regular edition of 1000 copies, and 30 signed and numbered copies on Zanders rag paper/

Beginning in 1984, the Pressbengel was republished by the Mandragora Verlag in several illustrated editions with introduction by Gustav Moessner. Size of the first edition was 1,000 copies with 150 copies bound as millimeter bindings with handmade decorated papers, 500 bound in paper case bindings, and 350 left unbound for binders. The 2nd edition was published with 1,000 copies. These were illustrated with drawings by Leopold Reiser. There was no indication of size for the 3rd edition illustrated by Andreas Raub. The text was also available in a promotional “give-away” edition based on 2nd edition of 1989 for clients such as that made for the Buchbinderei Hans Ehe on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

Links, Einbande für die regulären Mandragora Ausgaben, rechts Sondereinband für die Buchbinderei Hans Ehe.

Binding at left for the regular Mandragora editions, at right in the binding for Buchbinderei Hans Ehe.
Titelblatt und Abbildung für Vergoldung aus der ersten [und 2.] Mandragora Ausgabe, Leopold Reiser illus.

Title page and illustration for “finishing” from first [and 2nd] Mandragora edition, Leopold Reiser illus.

Titelblatt und Abbildung für Vergoldung aus der dritten Mandragora Ausgabe, Andreas Raub illus.

Title page and illustration for “finishing” from third Mandragora edition, Andreas Raub illus.

Kolophon der ersten Ausgabe

Colophon of the first edition

Beim Erscheinen von Die Collins hatte ich leider kein Exemplar der Vorzugsausgaben vom Mandragora Verlag und Josef Weiss finden können. Jetzt aber habe ich sie!

When The Collins appeared I had not been able to locate copies of the deluxe editions from the Mandragora Verlag or Josef Weiss. Now I have them!

Edelpappband für die Vorzugsausgaben aller Auflagen.
mit Lederschienen an Ober- und Unterkante und Öltunkpapier. Dieses Exemplar #16 der 1. Auflage.

"Millimeter" binding for the deluxe editions with leather trim at top and bottom,
and marbled paper using oil paints. This example #16 from the 1st edition.

Der Pressbengel wurde 1996 von Josef Weiss als Dal Rilegatore d’Arte mit Abbildungen aus verschiedenen historischen Fachbüchern ins Italienische übersetzt. Größe der Auflage war 1000 Exemplare, davon 400 als Pappband, 100 in Leder gebunden, und 500 in losen Bögen zum Einbinden.

The Pressbengel was translated into Italian in 1996 as Dal Rilegatore d’Arte with illustrations drawn from various historic bookbinding manuals. Size of the edition was 1,000 with 400 copies bound in paper, 100 bound in leather, and 500 copies left unbound for binders.

Die reguläre italienische Ausgabe von 1996.

The regular Italian edition of 1996.

Doppelseitenansicht zu Vergolden.

Page spread for "finishing."

Kolophon | Colophon

Die italienische Vorzugsausgabe von 1996, dieses Exemplar #100.
Geheftet auf Pergamentriemen mit Lederrücken und Papier bezogene Deckel.

The Italian deluxe edition from 1996. This copy #100.
Sewn on parchment slips with leather spine and paper covered boards.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Bone Folder on Jeff Peachey's Blog

Thank you to Jeff Peachey for the opportunity to answer some questions regarding my translation of Ernst Collin's Pressbengel as The Bone Folder.
Peter answered three questions about this project:
1. Why did you call this The Bone Folder?
2. What do you see as the role of tools in this work?
3. Why should someone purchase this limited edition when you have already released a version online for free?

Read my full responses on his blog here.

 And, if you're not following his blog, consider doing so for interesting posts about the history and craft of bookbinding, tools, and more...


Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Bone Folder: Prospectus Available


The Bone Folder
A Dialogue Between
an Aesthetically-Inclined Bibliophile
and a Well-Versed-in-all-Aspects-of-the-Craft Bookbinder

By Ernst Collin

Translation from the German and Introduction by
Peter D. Verheyen

Illustrated with photographic images by
John (Hans) Schiff

Download the full prospectus in PDF form here,
write to the Boss Dog Press to request a printed copy,
or see the Press' site for more information.

The Boss Dog Press is very pleased to present this prospectus for its most ambitious project to date: a handpress edition of Ernst Collin’s didactic dialogue about bookbinding entitled The Bone Folder. Originally published as Der Pressbengel in Berlin in 1922, it was first translated into English by Peter Verheyen beginning in 2008, and published in the Guild of Book Workers’ Journal in 2009. Peter later made it available online as a PDF through this Pressbengel Project blog.

Prior to its commitment to undertake the Bone Folder project, the Press had been granted access to a series of photographic negatives and contact sheets of the hand bookbinding process which had been taken in Germany in the late 1920’s or 1930’s. The photographer, Hans Schiff, fled Germany and spent the rest of his professional photographic career in New York City working as John Schiff. During discussions between Peter Verheyen and Don Rash about the design of this edition, the fact that the Schiff photographs were roughly contemporary in both time and location to the text led to the realization that they would be the perfect illustrations for the book. The Press is deeply indebted to Sibylle Fraser for allowing the use of these photographs.

These photographic images come from a collection of 34 negatives taken by Hans Schiff sometime after 1920, and document the pulling (taking apart) and rebinding a copy of the Bremer Presse Faust with that date on the spine.

Proof of images for book. More here.

An image was chosen to accompany each of the six days’ dialogues. The photographs do not necessarily relate directly to each daily subject; rather, they illuminate the progressive nature of the hand binding process. The images are presented at their original size of 110mm by 80mm and include the edges of the negatives. In addition to the six primary images there is a portrait of the young Hans Schiff. Unfortunately there do not seem to be any extant pictures of the author, Ernst Collin. The photograph used for this prospectus is an additional image not used in the book. The photographs have been scanned and digitally printed onto Canson Rag Photographique paper by Light Works, a non-profit photography organization based at Syracuse University.

About the Edition
As with the previous Boss Dog Press titles, The Bone Folder will be printed on our Morgans & Wilcox Washington handpress. The edition will consist of 120 copies, with 100 copies available for purchase. The paper for the book will be mouldmade Hahnemühle Biblio, chosen to show the digital Monotype Walbaum type to best advantage. Typesetting has been done here at the Press using Adobe InDesign, and plate processing will be provided by Boxcar Press of Syracuse, New York. The titling font is the second iteration of the Boss Dog Press FritzGotische, a fraktur face created by Don Rash in memory of the late Fritz Eberhardt, calligrapher and bookbinder extraordinaire. The page size is 9” x 12”, and echoes the 3:4 proportions of the seven tipped-in photographs. The frontispiece is a facsimile of the original 1922 Pressbengel title page, printed letterpress. This prospectus is presented in the same format and materials as the edition in order to give interested parties an idea of the look and feel of the finished books.

About the Bindings
Of the 100 copies for sale, 54 will be case bound in full pastepaper over boards and will be distinguished by Arabic numeration (1-54). The case bound copies will be hand sewn over linen tapes with sewn-on endpaper sections for durability and strength. Titling for these books has yet to be decided. There will be 26 copies (A-Z) bound in quarter leather with pastepaper boards, titled in gold on the spines. The leather bound copies will be hand sewn over flat cords, with which the boards will be attached; the sewn-on endpaper sections will have leather inner hinges. All of the 80 bound copies will be housed in pastepaper covered slipcases. The remaining 20 copies will be offered in signatures for bookbinders and will receive Roman numeration (I-XX).

The edition in production. More images here.

Prices and Ordering
Prices for The Bone Folder are as follows:
  • Unbound copies: $300
  • Paper case copies: $450
  • Quarter bound copies: $600

All books will be shipped via Priority Mail for $15. Standing order customers receive the usual 20% discount plus free shipping; dealers receive 30% discount. Orders may be made using the included order form; by emailing; or by phoning 1-570- 239-8643. The Press accepts checks, credit cards and PayPal to

Download the full prospectus in PDF form here,
write to the Boss Dog Press to request a printed copy,
or see the Press' site for more information.

The Boss Dog Press is online here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Colliniana 2016 - Ernst Collin Updates

As in the past 4 years, on May 31st, Ernst Collin's birthday (This would have been his 130th) I share updates from my research and findings into his life and work. The past year has seen some good activity.

Wie in den 4 vergangenen Jahren gebe ich am 31. Mai zu dem Geburtstag von Ernst Collin (dies wäre sein 130. gewesen) eine Jahreszusammenfassung von Funden und Fortschritten an meinem Projekt über die Collins. In diesem Jahr war recht viel los.

The Boss Dog Press Bone Folder
Boss Dog Press Pressbengel auf Englisch

Most significant is the starting of production for the Boss Dog Press' letterpress edition of Ernst Collin's The Bone Folder, illustrated with images depicting the binding process. Images were selected, and these are now being printed digitally at Light Work, a non-profit photography organization based at Syracuse University. For the edition, that means 8 images (6 "days"of dialog, a portrait of John (Hans) Schiff, and another image from the binding series for the prospectus) printed 120 times each... That's a lot of cutting. The edition will be available in a regular paper case,  deluxe quarter leather, and sheets for binding. In addition to the photographs, the text features a new introduction correcting "errors" about Ernst Collin's identity and providing context for his original text in the form of an abbreviated history of the firm of W. Collin and his family. While we are still working out details, I can say that those pre-ordering the deluxe edition will also received a printed copy of the history and bibliography in English. As an aside, the blog header makes use of Don Rash's BDP FritzGotische hand-calligraphed type face, originally created for his Three Lectures, and used again in this fine press edition of the Bone Folder.

For more information about pre-ordering..., please contact the press at

Am bedeutendsten ist der Anfang von der Produktion des Pressendrucks meiner Übersetzung Ernst Collins Pressbengel von Don Rashs Boss Dog Press. Diese hat mit dem Druck der Aufnahmen von John (Hans) Schiff begonnen. Die Aufnahmen wurden digital geduckt bei Light Work, ein gemeinnütziger Verein für Photographie an der Syracuse University wo ich auch arbeite. Für die Auflage werden 8 Bilder (6 "Tage" Buchbinderei, ein Bild von Schiff, und eins fürs Prospekt) wurden 120 gedruckt. Das wird viel Schneiden bedeuten, wird aber Dank Vorplanung nicht so schlimm. Die Auflage wird es als Pappband, halb-leder Einband, und in Lagen zum Einbinden geben. Zusätzlich zu den Aufnahmen hat diese Ausgabe auch eine neue Einleitung die "Fehler" zum Leben Ernsts aus der ersten Auflage korrigiert, sowie eine gekürzte Geschichte der Familie und W. Collin. Details gibts noch viele durch zu arbeiten, aber Personen die die halb-leder Ausgabe im Voraus bestellen werden auch eine Druckexemplar der Geschichte und Bibliographie bekommen. Nebenbei, der Schriftzug im Header dieses Blogs ist Don Rash BDP FritzGotische, speziell von ihm für sein Buch Three Lectures per Hand geschaffen. Man wird sie wieder in dieser Ausgabe sehen.

Für mehr Information über Vorbestellungen..., melden Sie sich bitte bei der Presse,

First look at proofs | Erste Ansicht der Druckproben

Annotations | Notierungen
Printing can start | Das Ausdrucken kann beginnen

42 Bone Folders | 42 Falzbeine
For the prospectus | Für die Prospekte

The Bone Folder in Japanese | Der Pressbengel auf Japanisch

Very satisfying was seeing Ernst's Pressbengel translated into Japanese based on my English translation as The Bone Folder. This work was done by Ms. Satoko Noro of the Nara-based "Laboratory for Preservation, Conservation, and Restoration," and published on their website in serialized form. The last installment appeared at the end of 2015. Wonderful to see this happen, and my thanks go out to them. The translation is illustrated with photographs of bookbinding tools and bindings. Below a screen-grab of the table of contents. A Google translation can be linked to here.

Sehr erfreulich war die Vollendung der japanischen Übersetzung vom Pressbengel anhand meiner englischen Übersetzung. Die Übersetzung von Frau Satoko Noro der "Laboratory for Preservation, Conservation, and Restoration"erschien in Folgen während 2015 und war mit Abbildungen von buchbinderischen Werkzeugen und Einbänden illustriert. s war wunderbar diese Übersetzung zu sehen und ich bin Frau Noro sehr dankbar. Unten ein Bild von dem Inhalt auf deren Webseite. Die Google Übersetzung gibts hier.

Just a short while I received a wonderful package from Ms. Noro, the translator. In it a bound tri-lingual copy of the Pressbengel – the original German, my English, her Japanese. A very special gift.

Vor einigen Tagen erhielt ich dann ein wundersames Päckchen von Frau Noro. Es sind der Ur-Pressbengel, mein Bone Folder, und Ihre Übersetzung in einem Band.

The binding | Der Einband
The three title pages and colophon
Die drei Titelseiten und das Kolophon

The Collins: | Die Collins:
History and Bibliography | Geschichte und Bibliographie

Work on the history of W. Collin and bibliography of the writings of Ernst is in the final editing stages for English and German. The first part about W. Collin was released in German back in January as Eine Geschichte und Bibliographie der Berliner Hofbuchbinder und Schriftsteller, and was well received. One reader who found this first part online shared images of a W. Collin binding he had recently acquired, with an image to be included in the final version. I've also shared other images... under the W. Collin tag, all of which are included in the history/bibliography that is pending. In the mean time the bibliographical listing of all of Ernst's writings found to date is available here, including in a spreadsheet with links via HathiTrust and other sources. Just click the navigation bar at top.

Arbeit an der Geschichte von W. Collin und der Bibliographie der Schriften von Ernst nähert sich dem Ziel auf Englisch und Deutsch. Das erste Teil über W. Collin auf Deutsch wurde im Januar als Eine Geschichte und Bibliographie der Berliner Hofbuchbinder und Schriftsteller geteilt mit guter Rezonance. Ein Leser der dieses Teil teilte sogar Bilder von einem W. Collin Einband den er erworben hat. Eine Aufnahme davon wir mit seiner Erlaubnis in der Geschichte gezeigt. Ich habe auch andere arbeiten unter dem "Tag" W. Collin geteilt die auch in der Geschichte erscheinen werden. In der Zwischenzeit ist die bibliographische Aufzeichnung von Ernst Collins schriften einsehbar mit Link zu einer Tabele die zu digitalisierten Versionen bei HathiTrust von vielen der Schriften Führt. Einfach oben auf den Link klicken...

Tentative cover design for the English version of history and bibliography
Vorläufiger Umschlag für die englische Fassung der Geschichte und Bibliographie

The base image for the cover above is drawn from Baedeker's Northern Germany as far as the Bavarian and Austrian frontiers; handbook for travellers (11th ed., 1893). In this example from the 1910 edition, the foldout map was unfortunately not unfolded during digitization (A common lament with Google Books content), but could be found from the University of Texas. The map shows almost all streets where the firm of W. Collin was located. Overlaid images show selections of the work of W. Collin and writings of Ernst, all described in the text.

Als Unterlage dient dieser Plan der Stadtmitte Berlins aus Baedekers  Northern Germany as far as the Bavarian and Austrian frontiers; handbook for travellers (11. Ausgabe, 1893). Wie allgegenwärtig bei Goggle Books wurde der plan nicht entfaltet, aber ein Exemplar der Auflage von 1910 ist bei der University of Texas zu  finden. Auf dem Plan sind fast alle Standorte von W. Collin zu finden, wenigstens den Strassen nach. Dazu dann Beispiele von Arbeiten W. Collins und Schriften von Ernst.

This text will be available online in English and German by the end of June, 2016.

Der Text wird bis Ende Juni 2016 auf Englisch und Deutsch online erscheinen.  

Other news | Weitere Nachrichten

In lieu of a photo of Ernst Collin, I was very pleased to find a copy of the semi-deluxe edition of his Paul Kersten, signed by him and Kersten. The signature provides a nice direct connection to his work.

Ich suche immer noch vergebens nach einem Bild von Ernst Collin, war aber sehr froh ein Exemplar der fast luxus-Auflage von Paul Kersten mit Unterschrift von Kersten und Ernst zu bekommen. Eine schöne direkte Verbindung zu letzerem.

Colophon from Paul Kersten | Kolophon von Paul Kersten

I was also able to find copy of one of the later editions of Ernst's Buchbinderei für den Hausbedarf, perhaps the first manual in German written for amateurs. This stands in contrast to England where numerous manuals for amateurs and school children were written. I especially like the new cover design depicting a woman doing the binding in her well-equipped home workshop. Women in bookbinding was a topic that the Collins were active in supporting.

Im letzten Jahr konnte ich auch ein Exemplar von einer der spãteren Auflagen von Ernsts  Buchbinderei für den Hausbedarf finden. Dies ist vielleicht die erste Anleitung in die Buchbinderei für Amateure in deutscher Sprache. Dies ist im Kontrast zu England wo es mehrere solche Bücher gab für Amateure und Schulkinder. Der Umschlag gefällt mir besonders, war doch die Rolle der Frau in der Buchbinderei ein Anliegen der Collins.

Another acquisition was a postcard of Kaffee Klose at Leipzigerstrasse 19. W. Collin had a "storefront" upstairs, and the lettering on the window can even be read. Another nice direct connection.

Noch ein Ankauf war diese Postkarte von Kaffe Klose in der Leipzigerstrasse 19 im 3. Stock ein "Schaufenster." In der Postkarte kann man sogar die Fenstermalerei erkennen. Wieder eine schöne Verbindung.

Click to enlarge

The "other" Ernst | Der "andere" Ernst

In my "quest" to disambiguate the two Ernsts, I purchased a small grouping of poems by Ernst Collin-Schönfeld last summer that were attributed to Ernst Collin in the dealer listing. I had seen the listing for some time, written to the dealer to ask him to attribute to the proper Ernst with no response, so finally just bought them...Nice to have in the set, really just a signature removed from a notebook as evidenced by the grid pattern on the paper, was the poem "Zur Nacht." The papers of Ernst Collin-Schönfeld at the Leo Baeck Institute hold a typescript of the poem providing a crucial linkage.

Weil ich auch weiterhin bemüht bin die beiden Ernste zu trennen, habe ich im letzten Sommer eine kleine lage Gedichte von Ernst Collin-Schönfeld aus einem Notizbuch gekauft. Ich hatte dieses Manuskript schon einige Male gesehen, den Antiquar auf die zwei Ernst aufmerksam gemacht ohne erfolg, und es letzten Endes einfach gekauft... Dabei war das Gedicht "Zur Nacht." In dem Archiv von Ernst Collin-Schönfeld beim Leo Baeck Institut ist auch eine Druckschrift des Gedichts was auch als "Beweis" der Verbindung mit dem "anderen" Ernst dient.

Click here to see typescript of the poem at the Leo Baeck

I had written to the curator of the Leo Baeck offering these manuscripts as a gift, but never received a response. That offer still stands...

Ich hatte den Archivar des Leo Baeck angeschrieben und diese Manuskripte als Geschenk angeboten. Habe aber nie eine Antwort bekommen. Das Angebot steht noch, bitte melden...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Bone Folder, con't (About stiffened paper bindings)

It has been some time since our Bibliophile and Bookbinder had their last conversation about bookbinding and the trade. In the spirit of Collin and his Bone Folder (Der Pressbengel) I  continue that conversation to draw in some German binding styles not included in the original text but of that time. I invite you to join the conversation in the "comments" section below, too.

From Marburg, Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

Several months later…

BOOKBINDER: Hello. What brings you back so soon? I haven’t even begun working on the books you dropped off after our last conversation about bookbinding. How is your book about our conversations coming along? Is it done yet? (chuckles)

BIBLIOPHILE: Don’t laugh. I’ve been working on it constantly and the more I do so the more questions I have. I had no idea there were so many facets to bookbinding and even art. As I was looking through some reference books at home and at the library I came across some bindings that you did not tell me about, perhaps because they are too common and beneath a binder of your reputation. Yet, as I was pondering them they struck me as perhaps the most honest in how they were made and are used.

BOOKBINDER: Really, this could be very interesting. Do you have examples with you?

BIBLIOPHILE: Not of both, but I do have an example of the smaller one in my coat pocket. It is very simple binding on a trade publication, comfortable to hold, not too delicate, unadorned, and very affordable. I have seen it used for school books, notebooks, address books and never really paid any attention to how they were made. But since our conversations I find myself critically looking at anything resembling a book. You have opened my eyes more than I could have imagined when we first met.

BOOKBINDER: Hmmm, yes that is a stiffened paper binding [Steifbroschure]. We, and by that I mean the trade, use it often for ephemeral items, or as an interim binding for something that book lovers like you might want to have bound properly. Although I am familiar with them and made one during my apprenticeship, it is not something I am interested in producing in my bindery – I usually refer them to a colleague who specialized in more modest, less expensive bindings. He also does work for some of the libraries in the area. I suppose they do have their place though.

BIBLIOPHILE: Tell me more about them so that I may understand your aversion to them. I could see them as a very useful binding for many books that may not be worthy of a fancier binding.

BOOKBINDER: Well, there are many reasons, but the main reason is that the structure is weaker and looks cheaper when compared to a “real” binding.

Often, especially for things that are to be rebound properly like a finely printed text, this minimal structure is appropriate in the short term, but what happens if it is never bound? If “holländern” [a very rudimentary form of sewing a text that originated in Holland [PDV1] is used the sewing is very weak and the only thing holding the text together is glue and a single thread. Then, we often use a very thin calico cloth that is glued directly to the spine to cover with everything else being paper. The cheapest ones may not even cover the thin boards – not a very durable combination. That may not matter, but why not bind the book properly from the beginning?

BIBLIOPHILE: As always Master you make good points, but what if I want to read the text and think about it before asking you to bind it. Wouldn’t it be better to have it protected at least that little bit?

BOOKBINDER: Perhaps… For the other types of “books” you mentioned such as school books, notebooks, address books it may well not matter much if they do not last. Still, there are simple ways we can use to make them stronger. We could, for example, sew them on tapes, and stiffen the boards with thin card. Perhaps one could even use a stronger cloth on the spine, perhaps with a nice decorated paper, or one could cover the whole book in cloth and just turn in at the fore-edges. But even then, why not bind properly?

BIBLIOPHILE: That is very interesting and gives me ideas. Still, I believe that you are right in saying that the binding is not very durable. That would also mean one shouldn’t use it for larger or heavier books. In that case I agree that one should just bind it properly to begin with. But, don’t you think that the style has its place in your selection of tools? I am trying to remember who it was, but I recently read in one of your trade publications that "'good enough’ is sometimes an appropriate, and even a noble goal, not an abomination.“ [PDV2]  I think it was in the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien. Don’t you think that might be the case with these unassuming bindings?

BOOKBINDER: I suppose you might be right, but there is a reason that these stiffened paper bindings are not described very often in our bookbinding manuals. Often one does not even need to know how to bind a book in order to make one. Even a printer could make one – a trade that often does not even understand the importance of grain direction.

Here, look at the example you brought. You can see that the endpaper is nothing more than a single leaf that has been hooked around the first signature. Then the sewing is very weak, the holländern I mentioned earlier. Then, the boards are only thin pieces of card like that used for file folders, how much protection can they offer. Also, the thin cloth is adhered directly to the spine. See how the cloth on the spine is starting to fray at the spine. It is not even turned in or reinforced as in the case of a proper binding. There are not even squares to protect the textblock like we have on even the most basic paper-covered case binding. Imagine what would happen if it was covered in nothing but a thin paper…

BIBLIOPHILE: I apologize if I am causing you distress, but I am very eager to learn and understand all I can about your beautiful craft and the trade. You have work to do, and I must go. I will try to stop by again soon with that other style of binding I wanted to learn about. Until then…

Several weeks later…

BIBLIOPHILE: Hello Master! Thank you for sending your apprentice over with the first of the books you bound for me. I am completely enamored with the delicate paper case bindings you made for my collection of poems. The pastepaper harmonizes beautifully with the delicate leather trim on the spine – headcaps you called them? – and the corners. Here is my payment. Unfortunately I was on my way out when he came by and couldn’t pay then.

BOOKBINDER: I am delighted that you are pleased with the binding. It is a style I truly love for its honest simplicity, especially when well done.

I’ve been thinking more about our earlier conversation – the one about those stiffened paper bindings. I was especially struck by your comment about something “good enough” being an appropriate goal. It is a very basic binding, one that is very easy and economical to make. That doesn’t mean it can’t be well made with almost the same amount of effort. When I was making a delivery to a very good client, a professor with a large library and many students, I noticed several books on a table that were bound in that way. Of the ones I saw that even the oldest one from the 1860s, a dissertation., It wasn’t pretty, thin cloth on the spine with boards undecorated except for the front of the wrapper that had been glued on, but had held up quite well with seemingly heavy use. Then I noticed others with marbled papers and other combinations of materials. I admit with a sense of chagrin that they have grown on me as an acceptable style of binding that I could see producing in my bindery. A nice economical alternative that could appeal to many who would like something very basic yet attractive. I will need to experiment so that I can discover the many variations that are possible. It would even be useful for my apprentices to learn. They even teach it in trade school now because of that Professor Adam (1849-1931) in Düsseldorf. He has spent a great part of his life trying to change how we train apprentices, and what they learn. It might even be something I could offer my clients in a more distinctive version. I do need to be careful about my reputation, especially in this economy.

BIBLIOPHILE: I’m sorry, but I must rush out. Next time I will remember to bring that other book I wanted to ask about. It’s rather strange style of binding – one I have not encountered before.

BOOKBINDER: Until then, and hopefully I will have finished some more of your books. I thank you for this conversation and making me challenge my assumptions.

  • [PDV1] Ludwig Brade, Emil Winkler, Das illustrierte Buchbinderbuch heißt es im 23. Abschnitt über Broschüren: "Durch das Heften der Broschüren bezweckt man die inneren Lagen der Bogen beim Aufschneiden derselben fest zu halten, damit sie nicht herausfallen, deshalb wird es so einfach als möglich ausgeführt und zwar auf die Art, welche man holländern nennt. Diese Bezeichnung hat ihren Ursprung darin, daß man jene Heftart zuerst in Holland anwendete und sie später auch in andere Länder überging.
  •  [PDV2] Karen Hanmer in an email to the author about this binding style. 4/26/2012.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bone Folder used as textblock in workshops

Very nice to see the Bone Folder being used in a workshop setting, this time in Nova Scotia on July 9 as part of Susan Mills' Full Tilt Single Session Bookbinding Classes.When I made this edition available as downloadable signatures it was my hope to see it being used this way. Glad to see it happening. If anyone else is using it in a similar way, or just binding it for themselves I'd love to see the outcomes so feel free to send me a picture or two.To download the signatures see the sidebar at left.Images below from Susan's site.

Class photo from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University Summer Book Arts Workshop.
Photo: Eliot Wright NSCAD 2011
Susan Mills is a traditionally trained bookbinder in private practice since 1990. She is passionate about bookbinding education and has taught thousands of people to bind books in both institutional and alternative settings. She is on the faculty of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University in Nova Scotia, is a 2011 visiting instructor at Pratt Institute, regularly teaches hand bookbinding at Cooper Union Continuing Education and serves on the board of the not-for-profit The Center for Book Arts, NYC. More about Susan at

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guild of Book Workers Journal Out

The 2009 issue of the Guild of Book Workers Journal is now out and it is a very impressive. The long wait has definitely been worth it and I would like to be the first to congratulate Cara Schlesinger and her staff on an amazing rebirth for the Journal. VERY nice selection of articles, lots of color, very nice (re)design, ... The Bone Folder appears on pages 48-63. In her foreword to the issue Cara writes:
... museums; and a translation of a 1922 German text in which a fictional binder engages his collector-client in a series of discussions about binding. As you read this particular piece, consider the similarities between the challenges faced by conservators and translators: how visible should the practitioner's hand be? How does one retain the essence of the original while making a piece accessible to a new population of readers? What sort of documentation should be provided for posterity?
Interesting questions and ones which I hope to discuss in the future. A letterpress/printing focused dialog from the same general time by Oldrich Menhart and translated by Philip Metzger, Evening Conversations of the Booklover Rubricius and the Printer Tympanus, will appear in Volume 7 of The Bonefolder and serve as a complement to Collin's text. Both are charmingly pedantic in their own way but provide valuable insight into the state of the crafts and craftsmanship during that time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

First 10 of Edition + Prototype

First ten of the edition bound. Had to reprint after a printer/paper fiasco, and glad I did. Now to make more pastepapers and then back to sewing. Fun.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

About Collin and his "Pressbengel" (Introduction to 1st edition)

Note: The biographical information given in this introduction is undergoing serious revision to reflect all that was learned since spring 2013 and has been shared in posts to this blog. A new edition is in preparation, but for more about Ernst and his family read here.

Ernst Collin (1886 -1942) was a writer whose father, the well-known Berlin-based bookbinder Georg Collin (1851–1918), occasionally provided bookbinding lessons to Prince Heinrich, the brother of later Kaiser Wilhelm II, during the winters between 1873 and 1875. It was tradition in the royal family that all princes learn a trade. The elder Collin was also very involved in training women to become full-fledged bookbinders. Because of this paternal connection with the trade, Ernst maintained a strong affinity for bookbinding, demonstrated by his publications about and for the bookbinding trade. Among them are Vom guten Geschmack und von der Kunstbuchbinderei (1914), a treatise about aesthetics and fine binding included in a monograph about the Spamersche Buchbinderei, Leipzig; Deutsche Einbandkunst (1921), the catalog to the Jakob Krause Bund’s exhibition; and the Bund’s newsletter, Die Heftlade (1922–24). The Jakob-Krause-Bund, a precursor to Meister der Einbandkunst (MDE, the German association of masters of the art of binding) , included some of the most influential German binders of the late 19th and early 20th century, among them Paul Adam, Otto Dorfner, Paul Kersten, and Franz Weiße. Collin also authored Buchbinderei für den Hausbedarf ([1915]) and Paul Kersten (1925), the latter a biography of one of the most seminal German fine bookbinders, whose Der Exakte Bucheinband (1923) helped define German fine binding. A steadily growing "work-in-progress" bibliography of his writings can be found here - note, all are in German. Links to content online are included when available but may not be available in your country for DRM reasons.

Der Pressbengel (1922), Collin’s best-known work, was first republished in 1984 by the Mandragora Verlag and later translated into Italian as Dal  Rilegatore d’Arte (1996). Conceived as a dialogue between a bibliophile and a master bookbinder on all aspects of the bookbinding craft as well as specific techniques, the original German has a charming if somewhat pedantically formal “school primer” tone, in keeping with the time in which it was written. The question-and-answer format has long history in pedagogical texts, whether for catechisms (see Nicolaus Cusanus’ Christliche Zuchtschul) or trades, as in Friedrich Friese’s Ceremoniel der Buchbinder (1712), which introduces the reader to all aspects of the bookbinding trade and its traditions. First published in 1937, Oldrich Menhart’s Evening Conversations of the Booklover Rubricius and the Printer Tympanus is the letterpress equivalent to Collin’s Pressbengel, and there is considerable overlap between the two, as might be expected. Evening Conversations was later translated into German (1958) and then English (1980), the latter by the Crabgrass Press in an edition of 100 copies bound by Fritz Eberhardt

Throughout the work, Collin himself is very frank in addressing the conflicts between quality and cost, as well as the positive and negative impacts of “machines” throughout the work. In his introduction to the 1984 reprint of Der Pressbengel, Gustav Moessner, author of and contributor to several German bookbinding texts, states that he sees the Collin’s work in part as a reaction to the growing industrialization of the bookbinding trade and the loss of the skills and techniques connected with this industrialization. In many respects this trajectory continues today, accelerated by the decrease in formal bookbinding apprenticeship opportunities, the increasing simplification of structures, changing aesthetics, and ultimately changes in the perceived value of books and the general economic climate. Until recently, Germany’s strong guild system required one to complete a formal apprenticeship and become a master binder to order to open one’s own shop and train apprentices. Unfortunately, this system has been in decline over the past decades, and many shops are closing or no longer training apprentices – a completed apprenticeship and “meister” are no longer required to open a business if no apprentices are being trained. Concurrently, a network of centers and alternative programs, such as “master-run” shops offering instruction to amateurs, is not developing in a way that would provide the high quality, rigid training critical to sustaining the craft over the long term. The apprenticeship system declined even earlier in the United Kingdom, another nation with a strong tradition of formal craft training. In other countries the trade system was not as formalized to begin with. The United States represents the most diverse environment for the trade, with a blending of the dominant English, French, and German traditions brought over by immigrants, but a formal career path, like that in the European tradition, never developed. Instead, less formal apprenticeships (on-the-job training) became the norm. This did not, however, hinder the development of some very fine American binders.

Samuel Ellenport’s The Future of Hand-Bookbinding (1993) provides an excellent if sobering overview of the changes experienced by the hand bookbinding trade in the United States, but leaves out the explosive growth among amateur binders and book artists. The past thirty years have seen a resurgence of interest in all aspects of the book arts, with centers offering workshops springing up across the United States. Formal programs have been developed, including the North Bennett Street School in Boston (a two-year trade model), the American Academy of Bookbinding in Colorado (a series of workshops), and the University of Alabama’s MFA in the book arts (an academic degree). These programs are doing much to preserve many traditional skills, but the contemporary book arts craft risks losing others that may be deemed too anachronistic or, like gold tooling, simply unaffordable and therefore not regularly practiced.

This is the first publication of Der Pressbengel in English, and while I have attempted to remain faithful to the original text, it should not be considered a scholarly translation , nor was it ever intended to be a “technical manual.” Like the German original of 1922, it is intended to be a general introduction to the bookbinding craft and trade as it existed in Germany when the work appeared. The title change from Der Pressbengel, an esoteric tool used to increase the leverage when tightening a German backing press (Klotzpresse), to The Bone Folder, an iconic tool that represents bookbinding as no other can, was undertaken both because “Pressbengel” has no “clean” English equivalent and to help make the text more accessible to today’s binders and bibliophiles. In a very few other cases, references to brand names have been made more general where this had no impact on the essence of the text. The result, I hope, is in keeping with the spirit and essence of the original German.

To read (and or bind), select your download option at top left.

Peter D. Verheyen

Print Version Done and a Prototype Bound

The print version of my translation is now back from the designer and looks great. Look forward to copying/printing and then binding 25 copies. A PDF of the text laid out in seven eight-page signatures will also be available for download. Want to wait until the original publication in the Guild of Book Workers Journal has happened.

However........., did get busy to bind a prototype of the edition. Simple non-adhesive link stitch, with folded paper wrapper. Title stamped in gold. Each paper wrapper will be different - a nice way to use up papers and a great excuse to make more.