Monday, March 12, 2012

Bookbinding (Postage) Stamps

Bookbinding has even made it onto stamps. Below are examples from my collection from Germany, France, and most recently Canada. Enjoy!

I remember having to learn how to program one of those fancy guillotines to take an A0 sheet (1 square meter) down to a postage stamp. The little dots on the triangles protruding from the cutter are optical sensors to stop the blade if someone reached in. We learned how to circumvent those from an instructor missing a few parts on his fingers hier und dort. We listened when he said, "don't ..."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ludwig Schaible's German Bookbinders' Federation Membership Book

Several years ago I was able to acquire the German Bookbinders' Guild membership book of a certain Ludwig Schaible. Herr Schaible was born on the 7th of January 1867 in Dornstetten, Germany and joined the Federation on the 1st of April, 1897 at the age of 30 in Leipzig, Dornstetten is in the northern part of the Black Forest closer to the Rhein whereas Leipzig is in Saxony, a bit south of Berlin, quite a distance apart and an indication of mobility in the trades.In this his third membership book, he is shown to have worked in Hamburg Altona from 1913 - 1918 as the location where these dues were paid was also recorded.

Now known as the Bund Deutscher Buchbinder Innnungen (BDBI) or Federation of German Bookbinding Guilds it was formed in 1880 to support the trade and those practicing it. The membership books were used in all trades and used to record the contributions made for dues, insurance, and other expenses related to working with these recorded using stamps. Below are the cover and a selection of page spreads depicting these stamps.

The small notice below from the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, Vol 22, 1907 also gives an indication of how these stamps were collected and accounted for.

In this case for non-participation at the May Day celebration by those from shops that could not close for the day. Those earning 15 Marks/week were asked to pay 25 cents and for those earning over 24 Marks the fee was 75 cents. Stamps for the appropriate amount were then glued into the membership books. As an aside the notice also indicates that the Federation of German Hempspinners and Sewing Thread Manufacturers agreed to a general price increase of 4% for their products effective immediately.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

German Bookbinder's Song of 1842.

The Chorus by William Hogarth, ca.1850
 German Bookbinder's Song of 1842.

Who can be more contented,
With life as ‘tis. presented.
    To us who bind the books?
Our work is full of pleasures,
We bind the richest treasures,
    And beautify their looks.

CHORUS: Hallo, halli. hallo, halli,
The Binder's life for me,

The plough we move so swiftly.
The hammer wield so deftly,
     Upon the beating stone.
In rounding or in backing,
We find no music lacking.
     Each has its merry tone.

We scrape and gild and burnish,
Till every edge we furnish
     With golden ray of light.
We work most charming headbands,
With blue and white and red strands,
     Like ladies’ dress bedight.

Thc backs we draw on lightly,
The corners turn in tightly,
     Well soaked with good stout paste.
The sides we neatly cover
With marbled paper over,
     To suit the owner’s taste.

Half French, half English binding,
In each a pleasure finding,
     We ready are to do.
The back we neatly fillet,
Or gild with tools to fill it,
     The title letter too.

In carven oak book cases,
And shelves in poorer places,
     Or ladies’ hands I ween:
Before the Sacred Presence,
At wedding feasts as presents,
     Our work is always seen.

The leaders of the nations,
With stars and decorations,
     With us their treasures trust.
Where would be all the sages?
The wisdom of the ages
     Eithout us would be dust.

If all our storied pages,
As in the by-gone ages,
     Were written down on rolls ;
The wear from oft unfolding,
And stains, from students' holding,
     Would oft blot out the scrolls.

But since the art of printing –
The world with glory tinting –
     Brought books within our reach:
In any form of binding,
How easy 'tis in finding,
      Whate’er the pages teach.

There could be no diffusion
Of knowledge, in confusion,
     Of papers loosely laid.
So, colleagues, lift your glasses,
To readers of all c1asses,
     And drink, “Long Live our Trade."

All hail the craftsman's hand, boys!
All through the Fatherland. boys!
     Men still will need our aid.
Long as the world goes round, boys!
Bookbinding can't go down, boys!
      All hail our worthy Trade!

From Journal fur Buchbinderei.

[From the British bookmaker: a journal for the book printer, the book illustrator, the book cover designer, the book binder, librarians, and lovers of books generally, Volume 5, 1891-92, pg 70]

Reference Collection Work

Spent the equivalent of a few fruitful days weeding and shifting my bookbinding/book arts reference collection so that I have _some_ space to grow in all areas. The top 2~3 shelves on the far right are still in flux, but no more books stacked on top of books. All is reflective of refocused collection development policy. Almost like a "real" library. Was precipitated in part by bringing my artist's book collection (not in this picture but on a brand-spanking new Gaylord Bros book cart - the large 3-shelf version) back from work... Beneficiaries of the weeding were my faithful students/friends.

 Still a bit to do, and perhaps more reference books to bring from work, but looking forward to being able to add to my database and use the collection...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Der Buchbinder a la Die Sendung mit der Maus

Great little German video by Marcel Ernst about bookbinding thematically based on Die Sendung mit Der Maus, a WDR show for kids that explained all sorts of things.Video is in German and starts out with a guy who has a falling apart book. Tries to fix it and finally ends up in a trade bindery that shows how a book is made - double fan adhesive cased binding... Then smiles all around.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Aufschabeblech - What would it be called in English?

From Paul Kersten's Die Buchbinderei und das Zeichnen des Buchbinders ... (Halle a.d. Saale, 1909), plate 1.

An odd looking tool with an even odder name in German, aufschabeblech. It's also referred to as a aufschabebrett as it could be made of wood too. In Italian it's sfilacciatoio and in French effileur. Below is a description of how it would have been used. Apparently, there is no English term, or is there? Suggestions?

So, how was this tool used? After sewing on raised or recessed cords, and the spine pasted up, the cords were cut short and pulled through the holes in the blech (tin), untwisted and then frayed out until very fine using the back of a knife. This then allowed them to be pasted out and neatly fanned out on the wastesheet of the textblock or on the top of the board as in the diagram below from Wiese's Werkzeichnen für Buchbinder..., (Stuttgart, 1937).

About this method of board attachment, Ernst Collin wrote in his Pressbengel (translated as The Bone Folder):
BIBLIOPHILE: Master, your logic is impeccable and I will keep what you said in mind. Let me ask you another question. A librarian acquaintance of mine once said that the French do a much better job with their quarter-leather bindings than the Germans.

BOOKBINDER: That is absurd. What is most likely behind that statement is the difference between the French and German styles in how the boards are attached. Remember how I described pasting the frayed-out cords on the board to attach it? What the French do is lace the cords through the boards to secure them. Here, let’s see what Paul Kersten wrote in his Exaktem Bucheinband: “It is commonly believed that a book in which the boards are attached in the French manner is more durable than one in which the German method is used. This is false. The boards are attached to the text block via the cords, and in all cases the failure was at the hinge and after many years of use, not because the boards were not laced on…” (Note: Kersten, Paul. Der Exakte Bucheinband. Halle (Saale): W. Knapp, 1923. Pages 22-23.)

BIBLIOPHILE: Again, I can’t argue with knowledge and experience of a true craftsman like you.

[Edit: See also my follow-up post on the topic]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vee alvays knew zis

Seen on the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) leaving Toronto, Canada on the way home this afternoon... One of the most hideous highways I have had the pleasure to drive on. At least something entertaining today...

Bradel General Contractors