Showing posts with label Bookbinders' workshops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bookbinders' workshops. Show all posts

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fritz Otto Gets Ready for the Week

Fritz Otto says a professional always makes sure their Kittel (lab coat) is clean and crisply ironed to start the week... This tacking iron is almost the right size, still need a proper ironing board though.

Fritz Otto washes, bleaches, and irons his lab coat every weekend, well almost every weekend. 

Below, the workshop of the Kunstgewerbeschule Hamburg under the direction of Professor Kurt Londenberg, former student of Ignatz Wiemeler. From the December "Bilderbeilage" of the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, [after 1957]. Note the nice crisp lab coats. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Mit Pappmesser und Kleisterpinsel (With Box Cutter and Paste Brush)

Mit Pappmesser und Kleisterpinsel (With Box Cutter and Paste Brush) by Helga and Joachim Schönherr. Berlin: Volk und Wissen Volkseigener Verlag, 1962.
Another charming manual, this one for secondary school children teaching them how to make decorated papers, portfolios, boxes, and basic bindings. The diagrams reveal much about the strong influences of the trade. In many regards this could be considered pre-professional training.

Sections include setting up the workshop; materials and tools; techniques for making pastepapers, lining cloth, making turn-ins, corners, punching slots for ribbons, ...; instructions for calendars, lining maps, photo albus, portfolios, stab sewn books, chess boards, boxes.

Setting up the workshop.

Classroom tool rack.

Making turn-ins using a waste sheet, as well as corners and trimming-out.

How to hold and position the chisel for lacing through ribbons.
Note the bevel of the chisel.

Covering the edges of a box.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Kunstgewerbeschule Hamburg

Happy to add this image of the bookbinding workshop of the Staatl. Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg Lerchenfeld to my collection. The workshop is significant for the first teachers there, Franz Weiße (1907-1942) and Ignatz Wiemeler (1945-1952). Both were among the absolute top of German binders and teachers of binding, and Weiße was Wiemeler's teacher. The building the studio is in was built 1911-1913, and this postcard appears to have been taken shortly after, so during Weiße's time.

Workshop of the Staatl. Kunstgewerbeschule Hamburg

Postcard verso

In addition to teaching at the school, Weiße was the author of numerous articles on bookbinding and marbling, including the monograph Die Kunst des Marmorierens (Translated into English Richard J. Wolfe as The Art of Marbling, and published by Bird & Bull Press, 1980)

Franz Weiße with student Martin Lehmann,
from Der Buchbinderlehrling, Vol. 11, Nr.11, 1938.

Wiemeler, was perhaps THE most noted German binder of the 20th century, certainly from the US perspective. He was, among others, teacher of Kurt Londenberg (teacher of Frank Mowery), Fritz Eberhardt (teacher of Don Rash), and Arno Werner (teacher of many in Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley including Carol Blinn, Sarah Creighton, and elsewhere such as Gerhard Gerlach).

Ignatz Wiemeler (at left)with Kurt Londenberg in Leipzig, Germany, 1937.
From: Leben und Werk des Buchkünstlers Kurt Londenberg (1914-1995),
Helma Schaefer, ed., Verlag Ludwig, 2009.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Babette, Bärbel's long lost and secret older sister?

About a month ago I introduced Bärbel who had to leave school at the age of 13~14 following the death of her father, and go off to learn a trade so she could contribute to the household. Bärbel was the protagonist in Bärbels fröhliche Lehrzeit (Bärbel's Happy Apprenticeship) that I wrote about in Bookbinding as Chick Lit. This genre is known in German as Backfischromane, an interesting term. I had found the book by accident while surfing eBay... and ordered it on a whim, no researching the Author further in any detail. The story spoke for itself, and the illustrations were fun. After that post I received an email from a librarian colleague in Weimar who wrote to let me know that Felix Riemkasten had written an earlier version of the book in 1935... Well, now I was obligated to dig deeper if only to see what the differences were. After all, post-war Germany in 1953 was a very different time from Nazi Germany in 1935...

Babette bindet Bücher (Babette Binds Books) arrived early last week and provided a wonderful deja-vue experience. The 1953 story (Bärbel) was an almost identical word-for-word reprint with the same characters, but with a different illustrator (Lotte Oldenburg) than the 1935 story (Babette). Babette did however provide some differences that were interesting. The first was the choice of typeface in the 1935 story, an appropriately German fraktur. Makes for an interesting combination with the typefaces used on the cover... I did look through my Buchbinderlehrling to see if the book might have been reviewed or at least mentioned, but alas, no. Babette was described in Georg Ruppelt's Buchmenschen in Büchern (Book People in Books), 1997, accompanied by the frontispiece illustration.

Both books can be found via various online antiquarian platforms:

Cover | Einband

From the dedication below, I wonder if Lotti Kessler went on to become a bookbinder because of Babette's story...

Dedication | Widmung
Lotti Keßler
zum Geburtstag 1936
von ihrer Freundin
Lore Panzer.

The frontispiece and title page below show Babette in workshop with Meister Schwannecke and depict her as a the book-lover she is.

The 1953 story with Bärbel began with her being told by her mother that with the death of her father and the loss of income, that she would need to leave school to learn a trade and contribute to the household. We do not learn how the father died or other family details. These were, however, revealed in 1935's story about Babette... Babette's father was the local "city clerk" (Stadtsekretär, Beamter/Civil Servant) and went after his duties and responsibilities with great dedication. He was thinking of these on his way to hearth and home when he stepped into oncoming traffic on a slushy wintry day... He died instantly, a small consolation for his family... As the youngest of three she also had two brothers, one a student at university and the other a sailor. As a student, Babette was very bright and would certainly have followed her brother to a university - she wanted to become a teacher...

Babette cleaning the store room in her first days as an apprentice.
Babette muß in ihren ersten Lehrtagen den Lagerraum aufräumen.

More about Babette's family and the consequences from the death of her father...
Mehr über Babettes Familie und die Folgen vom Tode des Vaters...

Babette's mother spoke strongly about these consequences and the impact that they would have. Babette answered with "jawohl" and "jawohl Mutter...," I.e. "yes, ma'am! A good obedient child who knows her duties and responsibilities. The story itself is told very unpolitically, although duty and obedience (Pflicht und Gehorsam) could be interpreted that way, and probably should be in the context of 1935 when everything was politicized, including trades and education.

After this the story continues identically with only very minor variations for both Babette and Bärbel.

Coffee with her former teacher, note press under table.
Kaffee mit ihrer ehemaligen Lehrerin. Die Presse ist unter dem Tisch.

Babette gets to go dancing but is encouraged to wear gloves because of calluses...
Babette geht tanzen und wird geraten Handschuhe zu tragen wegen Hornhaut...

Babette sewing | Babette beim Heften

The cranky Journeyman's pants are glued to the stool as a prank, and torn out.
The other apprentice got sent to his apartment to grab a new pair...
Die Hose des fiesen Gesellen wird vom Lehrling an den Hocker geklebt.
Nach gelungenem Scherz muß Letzterer eine neue Hose holen.

At the exhibition | Bei der Ausstellung
The end | Ende

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bookbinding as Chick Lit

Bärbels fröhliche Lehrzeit (Bärbel's Happy Apprenticeship) by Felix Riemkasten written in 1953 is a charming piece of teen lit. for women. Illustrations by Christa W. Gräfin von der Schulenburg.

After the death of her father, Bärbel, at age 14, needs to leave school to take up an apprenticeship rather than going on to university like her eldest brother (She was a straight A student). She loves books, bookbinding isn't too strenuous (says her mother), ... What could go wrong? Nothing actually, mostly, and after finding an apprenticeship her first task is cleaning the store room (very familiar to me). Then there are challenges in dealing with the Altgeselle (Journeyman who never moved on to become a master), being the only woman, ... However, she's an ambitious over-achiever, pushes herself to learn new things, wants to create fine bindings and open new markets... A fun read that is remarkably accurate in its portrayal of many of the realities of apprenticeship, its descriptions of tools and equipment, and is up-beat, cheerful, and even empowering.

Bärbel pointing out some of her bindings in a book store window.

Although Germany had been relatively "progressive" about women as apprentices..., Bärbel was the first woman to apprentice with Buchbindermeister Schwannecke. All apprentices were referred to as "Junge" (boy), and Bärbel was also referred to as this... Bärbel's gender was also something that led to regular disputes with the Altgeselle, a journeyman who never progressed beyond that stage and was largely responsible for the day-to-day work and apprentices.

Bärbel heaving a sewing frame loaded with books through the bindery... Why? To demonstrate on her first day that she could carry her weight. Would be easier and safer to carry if held lower...

As woman, Bärbel was naturally weaker, something of a liability in a trade that required great stamina working while standing and carrying heavy loads... Hence, carrying the loaded sewing frame on her first day... Of course, she first had to identify the sewing frame never having seen one...The number and size (as well as dangerous) of the equipment and tools also intimidated her.

Among the adjustments was also that learning a trade as an apprentice was not a warm and fuzzy environment filled with mutual respect... Praise was scant, even when the work was well done, and apprentices (and journeymen) were chastised in the presence of others.

As part of her apprenticeship, Bärbel also had to go to trade school - the great equalizer where apprentices learned those things they might not learn in the shop... This was an experience she enjoyed, in large part because it was not the "bunker" her shop was.

Bärbel also learned about the value of acquiring the best tools and equipment very early on, and invested heavily in herself, often at the expense of a nice new dress... Fortunately, she was also able to borrow some equipment like hand presses or sewing frame so that she could practice at home...

Wrapped up in her ongoing conflict with the Journeyman was also the realization that it was very important to set personal goals for oneself, and that not to do so was to hold oneself back. For her, this meant going beyond mastering just the day-to-day skills, but taking it to the next level.

The book also did a good job of describing the types of jobs that came in, from repairing textbooks, to binding ledgers for businesses, to journals for libraries, ... This was the kind of work that sustained small trade binderies, and subsidized the more demanding work. It was also the kind of work that "allowed" apprentices to develop chops via rote memorization (of mind and hands), not her favorite. Via a conservation with another apprentice, she learns about his motivation for stealing, with his eyes, picking up tricks and new techniques. Bärbel is his favorite for this as she does the most beautiful work.

In terms of techniques, one of the best descriptions is for when Bärbel learns about decorated papers, and how to make and apply these. For her, this is also when she realizes even more what the design possibilities can be, and how to set her work apart. In some respects it felt the Bibliophile listening to the Master in Ernst Collin's Pressbengel (Bone Folder).

In the end, Bärbel passed her Gesellenprüfung ending her apprenticeship, but she stayed on at the bindery. First though, time to forget about the bindery and go dancing...

Bärbel gets to go dancing but is encouraged to wear gloves because of calluses...

Newly minted as a journeyman binder, Bärbel seeks out venues for showing her work, and perhaps earning some extra income. A local bookstore is more than happy to display her work in their shop window, also indicating that customers can contact her via the store. Ironically, she has very little success in attracting work. She does gain a patron of sorts in her brother who was at university and is now doing well, binding books for him (and his friends...). This eventually catches the attention of the (now other) journeyman who rats her out to the Meister. Without her Meister and the license to run her own shop she cannot legally do this kind of work on the side. However, after reprimanding her more for using shop resources without permission and compensation, he senses opportunities for his business and adds Kunstbuchinderei to his name. This gives him more prestige, and with Bärbel's skills that he acknowledges are more refined than his, a broader pallet of services. The other Journeyman gets reproached for being a busy-body, and further when learning that she is earning more than him, and as a girl no less, plans for further revenge. This back fires, or as is said in German "geht in die Hose" (went to his pants), literally. Bärbel, meanwhile, continues to be allowed to borrow equipment, and is quite happy with the situation.

The cranky Journeyman's pants are glued to the stool as a prank, and torn out. The other apprentice got sent to his apartment to grab a new pair...

The frontispiece: That's a heavy load that she's carrying on her shoulder. She's carrying a book in a finishing press through town, just like on the other occasions when she borrows equipment from the shop to keep working on her own books at home...

Finally getting a binding job via the book store, she gets to know a Frau Director Feld, a woman who is very successful and independent in her life. This Frau Feld becomes her patron in the classic sense, giving her commissions, discussing bookbinding with the interest of Collin's Bibliophile, but even more. Asking her to leave her portfolio of designs, materials, and decorated papers, she shows these to like-minded friends, but also arranges a tea in her home where Bärbel gets to meet these friends and give her pitch. While very surprised by this scenario, she is very prepared, poised, and confident.

Bärbel confidently and enthusiastically at work.

One of the guests mentions an upcoming competition for a new guest book for the city (every village, town, city, ... had one). Open to all, Bärbel enters a design finely executed on a sample binding. She is heart-broken to learn that she did not win having been beaten by established artists, and is told by Frau Feld that the gentleman who encouraged her to enter was doing so largely in jest – she was still very young and inexperienced, and the winners were established and highly respected artists. She did, however, come in fourth and her work was exhibited with the winners, a consolation. Her Meister was appropriately proud, and wanted her to remain with him to do the higher end work that she had been bringing to the bindery – who would do it if she left... Frau Feld had other ideas however and had been busy networking to find Bärbel a position in a large trade bindery where she would work in the extra binding department. Having worked in the same bindery for her apprenticeship and journeyman years, she had very limited perspectives and alternative experiences. Moving on would be very important for her professional development, something the Meister also realized.

The [binding] world was hers for the taking, and with her drive, passion, and the help of patrons and mentors she would succeed.

Bärbel dedicating a guest book she bound to her patron.

So, from this 54 yr curmudgeon, a fun read loaded with accurate descriptions of the trade and apprenticeship in general, positive and encouraging, and with the complications of teen love and its associated drama. Based on my personal experiences as an apprentice in Germany during the 1980s, I found the portrayal of the Meister and his relationships with the others fair and largely accurate - apprenticeship is not summer camp, management style ranging from brusque to encouraging, what we would expect in the traditional trades. For someone like Bärbel who was academically strong and would have gone on to university, the contrast would have been stark and revealed crass differences in class and educational background, as well. Throughout though, Bärbel and the Meister handled themselves and each other well, and the real antagonisms were expressed through the journeyman who never showed any drive or enthusiasm, but was jealous of those who did. Ultimately his behaviour had him strongly reprimanded – shape up or ship out – and he and Bärbel came to an understanding. Finally, there was Frau Feld, a successful and cultured woman whose strong support (and some enabling) opened many doors for Bärbel, doors that she walked through with confidence to close the deals that Frau Feld had started.

Thinking that this book might have been reviewed, or at least mentioned, in Das Falzbein, THE journal for bookbinding apprentices I leafed through my complete run page-by-page starting in 1952. Alas, nothing, disappointing because I think the book could have encouraged readers to at least consider our craft. I did, however, find numerous images of female apprentices and art school students who could have been models for Bärbel.

So anything like this appear in English or another language?

See also my post about Babette, Bärbel's long lost and secret older sister?, aka Babette bindet Bücher.

Both books can be found via various online antiquarian platforms:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Badass Bindery Employee - Knallharte Buchbinderei Angestellte

I love looking for bookbinding related photographs, postcards, and other ephemera on eBay... This was one I couldn't resist.

Ich suche oft und gerne nach Photos, Postkarten u.A. auf eBay. Dieses Bild war eins dem ich nicht widerstehen konnte.

"Pretty and youthful Millie Samarin"
"Die hübsche und junge Millie Samarin"

Photo Verso
Philadelphia Girl Captures Bandit by Biting Him.
Photo is of pretty and youthful Millie Samarin, 18-years old, of 1487 N. 53rd Street, Philadelphia. She is employed in a bookbinding concern and recently returned with the payroll to the office. An alleged bandid stopped her in the hall. "Give me IT" quoth he. "Nit" answered she [in Yiddish?]. He grabbed Millie and she grabbed him -- with her teeth sunk in his shoulder. He screamed for help and Detectives Brendley and Van Ness rescued him. In the hoosegow [prison]he thanked his [rescjers]. Millie took the payroll to the office.
Your Credit Line Must Read: -By United [Newspictures])
Philadelphia Mädel fängt mit Bissen Banditen ein.
Das Photo ist von der hübschen und jungen Millie Samarin, 18 Jahre alt, ..., aus Philadelphia. Sie arbeitet in einer Buchbinderei und kam neulich mit Lohnfonds zurück in die Firma. Dort wurde sie im Flur von einem angeblichen Banditen angegriffen. "Gib es mir!" sagte er. "Nit" antwortete sie zurück [auf Jiddisch?]. Dann griff er sie an, und sie kämpfte zurück und biß ihn in die Schulter. Er schrie nach Hilfe, und die Bullen retteten ihn. Im Knast bedankte er sich dann bei seinen Rettern. Millie brachte dann die Lohnfonds ins Büro.
Bildquelle muß sein: Von United [Newspictures])
Date of image, Jan 31, 1924
Her home now a vacant lot...| Das Haus ist jetzt eine Lücke...

Now imagine what she could have done with a guillotine around, but it doesn't sound like she needed one...

Was hätte sie gemacht wenn eine Schneidemaschine in Reichweite gewesen wäre. Hörte sich aber nicht dannach an als hätte sie den gebraucht...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Licht für die Buchbinderei - Lighting for Bookbinderies

Below, a photograph of a bookbindery taken in Berlin by OSRAM, and depicting inappropriate lighting. The photograph is interesting for other reasons as well. OSRAM was (and remains) one of the most modern lighting companies in Germany providing lighting solutions for shop windows, advertising, and work/office/task environments among others.
Unten eine Abbildung einer Buchbinderei in Berlin, aufgenommen von OSRAM um die Unzweckmäßige Beleuchtung zu zeigen. Das Bild ist aber auch sonst sehr interessant. OSRAM war (und ist es noch) eine der modernsten Firmen in Deutschland für Beleuchtung von Schaufenstern, Reklameleuchten und Arbeitsleuchte, u.A..

Bookbinding workroom with inappropriate lighting. The light bulbs protrude from the  too-flat shades blinding the workers below. The lighting is harsh and creates deep shadows. Additionally, the bulbs are insufficient in their output.
[Description printed on verso of photograph]

What do we see in this image? A small shoddy shop, dark, tired, with 5 workers. The "Meister" (an Omar Sharif lookalike as my wife pointed out) at left in the back. The curtains are drawn, and it is dark behind. The clock on the wall shows 7:00 a.m. or 7:00 pm - in February in Berlin it would have been dark at either time. A "calendar" on the wall at right given away by the board maker Th. Volstorf celebrates their 100th anniversary, 1930 - 1930. Below in that "calendar" it says February 28, then Dienstag (Tuesday). That would fit for 1928, a leap-year. In 1930 February 28th fell on a Friday. The date would also work for 1933. What does the "9" represent? The 9th week of that year, that would fit, buy why so prominent. Between the two a map of the center of Berlin.

Und, was sehen wir in diesem Bild? Ein kleiner schmuddeliger betrieb, dunkel, abgenutzt, dreckig, mit  5 Arbeitern. Dem Alter nach, hinten links der "Meister" der wie Omar Sharif aussieht (sagt meine Frau). Die Vorhänge sind zu, und es ist dunkel dahinter. Die Uhr an der Wand gibt 7 oder 19:00 Uhr an. Februar in Berlin wäre es zu beiden Zeiten Dunkel. Ein Werbekalendar daneben von Pappen Th. Volstorf die 1930 deren 100. Jubiläum feier(ten). Darauf steht auch Februar 28, dann Dienstag. Dienstag der 28. würde für 1928 passen, 1930 fiel der 28. an einem Freitag, Dienstag der 28. würde auch für 1933 passen. Was bedeutet die 9? Die neunte Woche des Jahres - würde für alle die Jahre passen, aber warum so groß. Zwischen Uhr und Kalender eine Karte von Berlin-Mitte.

The single workbench shows a number of piles and tasks. The young apprentice at left is slitting open signatures, another at right is sewing (with piles of signatures below). with the one behind checking the fit of the cover to the book. In the middle of the table we have a paste pot with heated glue pot behind. Gas for the heating flame (based on screw valve) comes from the pipe from above. In the pot, brushes with metal handles. On the wall at left, nicely ordered tools and a sign that proclaims Time is Money! The lights above, the reason for the image have been heavily retouched on the negative before printing.

[Edit 12/26/2015: The brushes are so-called Berliner or Leipziger Leimpinsel. See far right in image  below]

 Die einzige Werkbank zeigt einige Arbeitsgänge und Haufen von ... Der "Lehrling" vorne links schneidet Lagen oder sonst was auf, der vorne rechts heftet mit hauen von Lagen darunter, dahinter einer der kontrolliert ob die Decke auch richtig paßt. In der Mitte von der Bank ein Topf Kleister und dahinter der Heißleimtopf. Von der Decke kommt die Gaszufuhr dem Ventil in der Leitung nach. Das Gas war für die Heizflamme im Topf. Im Leimtopf, 2 Pinsel mit Metallhülse. Ganz hinten links an der Wand, mehr Werkzeug und ein Schild mit Zeit ist Geld. Die Beleuchtung, der Grund für die Aufnahme, wurde vor dem Abziehen auf dem Negativ stark retuschiert.

[Edit 26.12.2015: Die Pinsel mit Metallhülse sind sogenannte Berliner oder Leipziger Leimpinsel. Sie ganz rechts in Abbildung unten]

From/Aus Das Falzbein, 1948 (39)

Still from the OSRAM video below with well-lit workbenches
Ausschnitt des OSRAM Video unten mit zweckmäßiger Beleuchtung

For some background, in 1928 OSRAM worked with the government of Berlin to hold a promotional week during which selected buildings would be spectacularly lit up.  OSRAM hired several photographers specializing in architecture to document these activities. During the 1930s efforts shifted to advertising lighting solutions for shop windows, advertising, and work/office/task environments among others. In order to help promote this, illustrated portfolios were created that representatives would have taken to prospective clients.

1928 veranstaltete OSRAM mit dem Berliner Magistrat die Werbewoche "Berlin im Licht", bei der viele Gebäude spektakulär beleuchtet wurden. OSRAM beschäftigte hervorragende Architektur-Fotografen, um  die Aktivitäten zu dokumentieren. Max Krajewski und Arthur Köster arbeiteten auch für OSRAM. In den 1930er Jahren verlegte man sich auf die Werbung für Leuchtreklamen, Arbeitsplätze, Lädenaußenfronten wie Innengestaltung. Dafür wurde eine Werbemappe erstellt, mit denen wohl Vertreter in Berlin arbeiteten um neue Kunden zu finden.

Below an advertising short Die Licht Bienalle, created by OSRAM in the early 1950s... The title says Bright as OSRAM Bright, Bright as a Bright Day.

From the 1950s...

Zwei Artikel auf Deutsch über OSRAM und Beleuchtung: 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Buchbinderei in Kontext

Several years ago I found this image floating around the web with no attribution, date, or description but was immediately drawn to it because of the stark imagery, the decay, and the fact that it was (once?) a bindery... Liked it so much I used it as my Facebook banner until today.

Searching in Flickr just now, I found another image of the same bindery, in color no less, that provides a bit more context in the form of the concrete protrusion at the top right. Image below by Markus Mayer from 2009 with the same graffiti and a similar reflection of a Plattenbau in the windows...

Flickr had a few more images of it such as this one that clearly show a railroad trestle above... A bit more searching brought me to Berlin, right near the iconic (for train geeks) Jannowitzbrücke and the Berlin Stadtbahn. This is along the Spree in what was once East Berlin.

A link to a quiz of the "where is this" sort provided a bit of history from a genealogy forum. This indicated that this was once the Buchbinderei Scholz. Interesting story for those that can read German ending with success in tracking down a relation/ancestor.

Click Google Maps Street View to view this July 2008 image,
spin image around to see the reflecting Plattenbau...
The TV tower at the Alexanderplatz is at right.
Click Google Maps Street View to view this July 2008 image,
spin image around to see the reflecting Plattenbau...

Would love to have a bindery at that somewhat desolate location. Combine two passions in one location, books and trains.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Glue Pots

The glue smells really peculiar today... [mustard]
From the Falzbein (December 1959, Heft 9, 12Jahrgang)

I remember seeing this and doing it during my apprenticeship. I did not get to eat the sausage, the Meister grabbed it first. Evidently he knew the prank, too...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bookbinders at Work

And now a slightly different depiction of bookbinders at work. The embarrassed gentleman at left is in all likelihood a journeyman binder with the master at right.

It seems we have some quality control issues.. 

And here in a poster shared by Rodrigo Ortega, binder in Mexico...
[Edit 19.3.2015]

And on 28.5.2015 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Paul Adam: An introduction to the German bookbinding trade, part II

In his introduction to Adam’s Leitfaden für die Gesellen- und Meister-Prüfung im Buchbindergewerbe (1904) Obermeister (Grand Master) Slaby of Berlin, Chair of the Federation of German Bookbinding Guilds, notes that in the short time since the adoption of (not yet mandatory) state regulated examinations for journeymen and apprentices, the need to formally define these examinations and to strive towards uniform action in the bookbinding field has revealed itself.

While the hands-on works were with few exceptions quite good, the same could not be said for the more theoretical aspects of the profession where there were severe shortcomings, with the oral examinations being even worse. Based on these observations the Masters in the Guilds and the heads of the Examination Boards decided in 1902 to create a guidebook (the Leitfaden) for these examinations, a challenge taken on by Paul Adam of Düsseldorf.

Adam took it upon himself to expand this guidebook well beyond the minimum requirements of defining the core questions apprentices and journeymen would need to answer in their respective examinations. By adding additional subjects Adam sought to provide the basis for a well-rounded and professionally aware bookbinding professional. This process of life-long learning would begin during the apprenticeship and be built upon during the binders journeymen years. Subjects added to this guidebook include a history of the book (and bookbinding), a history of the bookbinding trade. The complete contents were listed in the previous post.

Views of the bookbinding trade school of Badersleben in the Harz from the early 20th century.
Shown are the typesetting room and the bindery.

While the original intent was to publish separate volumes for apprentices and journeymen, Slaby notes that the Federation became convinced that the sooner apprentices began to familiarize themselves with the knowledge required to become a master, the easier it would be for them to progress through the ranks and become a master in their own right. As a result, trade schools (attendance at which was mandatory) were strongly urged to adopt this guidebook, and masters encouraged to impress its value upon their apprentices. At the same time members of the examination boards were told to familiarize themselves with the content of the book in the knowledge that those being tested by them would no longer “quake  and be fearful” as they would be better prepared.

Overall, the tone of the guidebook was professionally stimulating, without becoming overly pedantic so that binders of all levels would want to consult with it regardless of their rank. This guidebook was not a bookbinding manual, giving only superficial attention to the details of particular binding styles but it was also more than a mere introduction to the field as it also contained details about the structure of the guilds, the ranks one could attain (apprentice, journeyman, and master) as well as sample questions for those respective examinations.

While Adams' manuals Der Bucheinband: Seine Technik und seine Geschichte (1890), Die praktischen Arbeiten des Buchbinders (1898), also published in English as Practical Bookbinding by Scott, Greenwood & Co. (London) in 1903 did not formally address the structure of the trade they did describe the work of binderies and their outfitting. With the formalization of the bookbinding trade, manuals began to appear that incorporated many of the aspects of this first guidebook, in particular sections on the history of the book and trade, “materials science,” estimating, sample questions in preparation for examinations. An example of this type of manual is Heinrich Lüers’ Das Fachwissen des Buchbinders that appeared in numerous editions (Deutsche National Bibliothek has 1939 as earliest edition). At the same time more pamphlet-like introductions to the bookbinding trade continued to be issued, often by the same authors.

View of a trade school classroom from Lüers' Fachwissen des Buchbinders (1943)

Making pastepapers and marbling in trade school.
From Lüers' Fachwissen des Buchbinders (1943)

Integral to the training of bookbinders of all levels were also the trade schools that complemented the hands-on on-the-job training provided in the individual binderies, offered courses for continuing education, and served as venues for the trade examinations. The trade schools also provided coursework in social studies, math (especially as it related to the trades, including estimating), and other subjects, something that was critical especially when apprentices were younger (as young as 13). This need for an “equalizer” was still evident when I served my apprenticeship in Germany from 1985-87 when my trade school class included those with university qualifications as well as those who left school early to learn a trade and ended up with publishers stapling magazines (also part of the hand bookbinding trades) all of whom needed to pass the same national examinations. Special courses in working with commercial grade high-speed folding machines and cutters were also included to provide a bridge to the industrial binding trade.

Master and apprentice.

I've had Adams' Leitfaden in my collection for some time, but as I was writing this, and searching for something online I tripped across Max Eschner's Der Buchbinder: Ein Lehr- und Lernbuch für Fachschulen, Fortbildungsschuen und zum Selbstunterricht, (Stuttgart: Hobbing & Büchle, 1898) similarly addresses the needs for a robust and comprehensive education in the bookbinding trade. It was based on the lesson plans of the municipal trade school for boys in Leipzig.A difference that was immediately noticeable was the inclusion of much bookbinding lore, including songs and poems that binders of all levels would have learned. More on Eschner in a later post.I am certain that others will appear over time as well...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Bookbinder and Bookbinding in German Books of Trades

Ständebücher, or books describing social classes and trades were fairly common in 16th/17th century "Germany" providing valuable descriptions and insights, and in the case of trades, the tools and working environments of the craftsmen.

The two most well known ones are Jost Amman's (1539 - 1591) Ständebuch, Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden, Nürnberg, 1568, and Christoph Weigel's (1654 - 1725) Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an, biß auf alle Künstler Und Handwercker, or Ständebuch, Regensburg, 1698.

Amman's well-known image of the bookbinder is iconic within the bookbinding community. The text below the image is attributed to Hans Sachs (1494 - 1576). Amman was born in Zurich, Switzerland the son of an academic but settled in Nürnberg, Germany, completed over 1500 prints and died in poverty. Sachs was a Meistersänger, master poet who started off learned the shoemaker's trade before deciding to become a poet. Insel Verlag, Leipzig/Frankfurt, Germany published several editions of facsimiles of the woodcuts beginning in 1934.

The Bookbinder / Der Buchbinder

I bind all sorts of books /
Religious and worldly / large and small /
In parchment or plain boards
And fit it with a good covering/
And clasps / and tool it with decorations /
I even flatten them at the beginning /
And many I gild on the edges /
With which I earn much money.

Ich bind allerley Bücher ein/
Geistlich und Weltlich/groß und klein/
In Perment oder Bretter nur
Und beschlags mit guter Clausur
Und Spangen/und Stempff sie zur zier/
Ich sie auch im anfang planier/
Etlich vergüld ich auff dem Schnitt/
Da verdien ich viel geldes mit.

The woodcut shows a very well equipped bindery with books being sewn on a sewing frame, [the master?] ploughing the edges of a book with the press supported in his lap; books in laying presses, a paper beating hammer on the floor as well as a scraper and the saw resting against his stumpish stool. The walls show rolls with lines and patterns (based on apparent width), a drill, rasps, and axe for working wooden boards.

In the same vein, were Weigels Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an, biß auf alle Künstler Und Handwercker of 1698 described the trades in prose with illustrations of each, 4 pages in the case of the bookbinder. While Weigel, a leading engraver and publisher of the time, is credited with many of the plates in this work, he did not create all the plates, especially for trades would not have know much about (such as nautical ones). The others were purchased from  Jan Luyken of Amsterdam who had published Het Menselyk Bedryfa, a similar book of trades in 1694, and also depicted the bookbinder. [Source: Bauer, Michael: Christoph Weigel (1654-1725), Kupferstecher in Augsburg und Nürnberg. Sonderdruck. Frankfurt a.M. 1983]  Weigel's Ständebuch is online at the State Library of Saxony in Dresden, with no mention being made in the catalog of the Luyken's contributions. The bookbinder begins on page 414 (actual page count starting with pastedown), with the plate following paginated page 256.Thank you to Jeff Peachey for alerting me to the work of Luykens and to other sources.

Looking at the identical image of the bookbinder (from Etwas für Alle) below one can see a very typically Northern European (Dutch) architecture indicating that this plate most likely originated from Luyken as well.

The Bookbinder / Der Buchbinder

Gott merkt und liset still, was man verblättern will
God notices and quietly notes what one ruins

Man's heart is like a birch
God tightens it the crosses presses,
and sews on it (as measured,)
the grace for the original sin.
Finally after hammering and cutting He will
clothe the same in golden blessings.

Das Menschen Hertz ist wie ein Buch:
Gott spannet es in Kreutzes-Pressen

Und heftet (wie Er's abgemessen)
daran die Gnade für den Fluch.

Zuletzt will er nach Schlag und Schneiden
dasselb in güldnen Segen kleiden

While the bookbinder at left is sewing a book on four cords (gluepot at his feet), his colleague is beating the pages flat as was habit at the time. Jeff Peachey discusses the practice and beating hammers on his blog in two postings (first | second). A plough with circular blade for trimming book edges rests against a stack of books on the floor.

Abraham à Sancta Clara's Etwas für alle, Würzburg, 1699, i.e.. Something for Everyone, That is a short description of persons of various classes, offices, and trades... also included a catechism, something that was not uncommon during that time. This used the same engravings as Weigel's Ständebuch. Sancta Clara, an Augustinian monk, was born as Johann Ulrich Megerle (1644-1709) at Kreenheinstetten, near Messkirch in Baden, Germany and was appointed imperial court preacher at Vienna in 1669.

On the subject of bookbinding in general, Sancta Clara is credited with writing:

So I will also, where much praise is due the bookbinders, because truthfully: useful, highly useful is the hand of the bookbinder, because a book without a binding is nothing more than a mirror without a frame, a house without a roof, a garden without a fence, a town without a wall, a steed without a saddle. The binding that which makes it possible to read a book comfortably and gainfully.
So ist es mir auch erlaubt, wo einiges Lob den Buchbindern zu geben, denn in allerlei Wahrheit: nützlich, übernützlich is die Hand des Buchbinders, da ein Buch ohne Bund nichts anderes ist als ein Spiegel ohne Rahmen, ein Haus ohne Dach, ein Garten ohne Zaun, eine Stadt ohne Mauer, ein Roß ohne Sattel. Der Bund macht erst, daß man ein Buch bequem und mit Nutzen lesen kann.

While many sew their books together so loosely that the leaves soon fall out just as easily as the leaves are blown off of a tree in the fall. Others due partially to inexperience and laggardness that cause the signatures to misalign and as a result damage and bring shame to the book. Finally there are the many, yes, even most bookbinders that don't just know how to make a gilt edge, but also know how to live a virtuous life.

Etliche zwar hefften die Bücher zusammen so liederlich, daß die Blätter so bald abfallen als die Blätter von einem Baum, denen der harte Herbstlufft gleich den Rest gibt. Einige seynd wohl auch theils aus Unerfahrenheit, theils aus Saumseligkeit, Welche die Bögen versetzen und folgsam dem gantzen Buch ein Schad and Schand zufügen. Im übrigen seynd ohnegezweifelt sehr viel, ja die meisten Buchbinder, die nicht alleyn einen guldenen Schnitt zu machen wissen, sondern auch einen guldenen Wandel führen.
Christoph Weigel wrote:

Because the exterior binding and cover, if they are well-made and preserved, protect the book from damage over time and allow the pages to be turned and opened at will quickly and without loss of time, whenever one wishes to read or note something; because of this the praiseworthy trade of the bookbinder is a necessary as useful.

Da die Bücher der aüßerliche Einband und die Decke, wenn sie wohlgemacht und reinlich gehalten werden, von beeden ziemlich lang bewahret und die Blätter nach Belieben ohne vielen Zeitverlust flüchtig herumbgeworfen, das jenige leichtlich aufzuschlagen vergönnen, was man zu suchen und etwan zu lesen oder auszuzeichnen beliebet; solcher Gestalt is das löbliche Handwerk der Buchbinder so nötig als nützlich.
[All from Buchbinder-Lob, Max Hettler Verlag, Stuttgart, 1959. This book is a treasury of anecdotes and references about the history of the book, bookbinding, the trades, and art of the book... Unfortunately, it does not provide formal citations for these.]

All these sentiments about bookbinding and bookbinders note the importance of the trade for the preservation of the texts, access to them, and as the climax of a holistic work. With the explosion in the printing of texts during the Reformation, the role of the bookbinder in their dissemination was clear to all.