Thursday, July 25, 2013

Endpaper Sample Book

Endpaper sample/swatch book from the Buntpapier- and Leimfabrik A.-G. in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and dated 1901/2. The volume is in the HathiTrust digital collection with the original part of the The New York Public Library's Paul Kersten & Hans Loubier Collections of Books on Bookbinding.

From time to time I will share other books from the HathiTrust.

 Regrettably the link will only work for viewers coming in with US based IP-addresses.


Link to the book directly at HathiTrust here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Provenance and Costs of Bookbinding

A few weeks ago Peter Zillig (Vuscor) shared a book he had found on ebay that was being offered by a dealer in Cologne, Germany. The book is Jacob Böhmen's (1575-1624) Alle Theosophischen Schrifften (Complete Theosophical Works), vol 1 (author's biography), printed 1682 in Amsterdam. At 15x9 cm and 144 pages it is a rather small tome, in a rather plain late 19th century German binding.

Binding exterior (Seller's photo)

Decorative title page (Seller's photo)

Title page (Seller's photo)

While the content of the book might be interesting to those interested in theosophy, it is the provenance and what was done to the book that made it interesting enough for me to spend the not insignificant sum of €181.

The book was originally issued in 15 volumes and had been rebound into 5 volumes at some point before 1890 when it was disbound and then rebound into its 29 individual sections/chapters. This was done for easier access to the text by the owner who bought it from an antiquarian in Tübingen in 1883. What is unusual and very nice to find is that the owner (Carl Friedrich Beck) wrote his rationale for rebinding and the costs onto the flyleaf.

Here a transcription by the dealer of the inscription:
Gegenw[ärtiges] theosophisches Werk Jak. Böhme ist im Jahre 1883 v. der antiquarischen Buchhandlung in Tübingen angekauft worden. Dasselbe bestund damals in 5 Bänden. Im Jahre 1890 hat man dasselbe nach all seinen einzelnen Theilen wie solche der sel. Böhme geschreiben, und zwar der schnellen Auffindung und des bequemen Gebrauchs halber in 29 Bd. binden lassen, deren Kosten sich auf 18 M. belaufen. Gesamtkosten des Werks 61 M. Gebe Gott, daß dieses unschätzbare Werk nicht in unberufene Hände gelange. Anno 1890.

This theosophical work of Jak. Böhme was bought in the year 1883 from the antiquarian bookseller in Tübingen. At that time it consisted of 5 volumes. In the year 1890 the same text was rebound into 29 individual volumes reflecting [Böhme's] original organization to make it easier to access and use the text. The cost for this rebinding was 18 Marks, total costs for the text 61 Marks. May God ensure that this priceless work not fall into  unbidden hands. Anno 1890
According to the dealer this volume is the only one of the 29 that made it... The binding cost of 18 Marks in 1890 is equivalent to € 111 ($144 in 2008), the total costs for the text of 61 Marks is equivalent to € 378 ($491 in 2008). These € (Euros) are indexed, but do not take into consideration the average incomes during that time that were quite a bit lower.  Unfortunately despite having just about every other statistic related to binding and binderies, Bernhard Harms' Zur Entwickelungsgeschichte der deutschen Buchbinderei in der zweiten hälfte des 19. Jahrhundert (1902) does not have any information on wages... However  Heinrich Bürger's Die Hamburger Gewerkschaften und deren Kämpfe von 1865 bis 1890 (1899) indicates on page 80 that in 1872 the weekly wage for a unionized bookbinder in Hamburg around 12~16 Marks at 10hrs/day...

All in a all a great find - Danke Peter fürs darauf aufmerksam machen.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy Birthday Ernst - Colliniana 2013

Today would have been Ernst Collin's 127th birthday. To honor him I am pleased to share the still rough and incomplete bibliography of his writings that I have been able to identify. While all in German (no translations available) they demonstrate how prolific he was in terms of his output and breadth of topics in the field of the book arts. His topics were technical and hands-on, reviews of exhibits, discussions of the state of the trade and art, the graphic arts in general and more. Often editorial in tone, his opinions were strong, yet constructive and forward thinking, and informed by his access to the best that German bookbinding, the trade organizations, and book/graphic arts had to offer. Well that, and his lineage – W(ilhelm) and Georg Collin court bookbinders to the Prussian Kings, German Emperors, and more. Ernst's most recognizable work was Der Pressbengel, translated into English as The Bone Folder by me and available via the links at left.

The Google Ngram (Thank you Jeff Peachey) below visualizes his writings and provides links to many. The Ngram is not perfect however as the other Ernst and writings mentioning "Ernst Collin" are also included in the visualization and links, but they do reflect his career as a writer. It also shows clearly that no matter how much I have been able to access, there is still more that I have not been able to find or access.In general the curve of the Ngram reflects the date range where I have been finding things.

Click image to enlarge, or view at Google

To access the bibliography with 82 titles including monographs, and articles click here. Of these, 39 are available via HathiTrust and other digital collections, hopefully also in the German-speaking countries that would benefit most from his writings. For those without (at least) a reading knowledge of German, Google Translate has gotten much better over the years, the OCR behind the indexing at HathiTrust is better than expected, and sense could be made of his writings. For the more technical terms consult the multi-lingual dictionary created by Suzy Morgan. Language and access will forever be challenges in all aspects of research, and there is still far more still only available in print and not digitally.

Copyright will make it difficult to access the post 1922 writings, as do holes in the collection of HathiTrust, the archive for the books digitized by Google from items in libraries in the US, publications that haven't been digitized (or otherwise reformatted/preserved such as on microfilm), and losses due the war.

Regardless, I will compile as complete a bibliography as is possible with the tools I have available, am deeply indebted to Syracuse University Library's inter-library loan department, and make as much available as I can. It will all however fit in between actually binding books, have some exhibitions goals for this year, and other projects.

Happy birthday Ernst!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Werbung - "And now a message from our sponsor"

Recently acquired the 1927 issue of the Allegmeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, the leading trade weekly for bookbinders, in part because it is a nice complement (and contrast) to my 1927 copy of the Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst published by the Meister der Einbandkunst. I was also very glad to find numerous articles by Ernst Collin, to whom this blog is dedicated in it (and will shortly be adding to the growing bibliography of his writings I am compiling).

As with all trade publications, there is lots of advertising, so below a selection that spoke to me today...

Gluing out: Before and After

Springback ledger/account books

In honor of the two comets we will have seen this year,
an ad from a brush factory.

A journeyman son of a meister looking to swap positions with a peer.
Experienced in all manner of binding styles and no slouch in gold tooling and blocking.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Exlibris, In the Ruins of a City...

Hand-colored etching, signed in pencil E[rnst] Heig[enmoser], ca. 1945. 5.5 x 9.5cm.
Click to enlarge

I recently acquired this desolately charming bookplate for Hanns Heeren by Ernst Heig[enmoser]. The bookplate shows a group of bibliophiles looking at books amidst the ruins of a recently-ended war. The sign in the background says Ex-Libris Freunde, or Friends of Ex Libris, the book on the left Samm-lung Heeren (Collection Heeren, whose bookplate it is, and the books on the right have on them [Walter von] Zur Westen, [Friedrich] Warnecke, and [Richard] Braungart. All three published books illustrating artistic bookplates. Links with their names take one to online examples of some of these books.

Heigenmoser (1892-1963) was German painter, commercial artist, and industrial designer in Munich. Heeren (1893-1968) was a German librarian who became a military pilot serving in both World Wars, but more significantly was a composer of German "volkslieder" (folk music) extolling the virtues of heimat, wandering, the countryside... He was also apparently a collector of bookplates judging by other examples found during Google searches. Here some examples:

Karl Blossfeldt, 1920

Harry Corvers, 1955

Bruno da Osimo, 1956

Waltraud Weissenbach, n.d.

In a case of serendipity, today, two days later I received the journal below featuring an article by Ernst Collin entitled "Der schöne Bucheinband" (The Beautiful Bookbinding). As I am usually single minded I don't even know if I looked to see what other authors were mentioned and/or remembered whose bookplate I ordered. In flipping through the issue also found an article by Hanns Heeren of the bookplate above on "Künstlerische Neujahrswünsche" (Artist's New Years Greetings). Fun!

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

To close, the iconic image of the Holland House library, bombed
out in 1940 during the Blitz. Compare with our first image.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Story of Two Ernsts

Written with Ruth Wiseman

When I began translating Ernst Collin's Pressbengel (The Bone Folder) it was because I felt such an affinity for the text that wonderfully portrays the state of early 20th century binding in Germany and the tension between art, craft, and industrialization, all in the form of a charming dialog. There was actually very little information available to me about Collin, and what there was raised more questions than I could find answers for. As a result I focused on the dialog itself, a context for the work, and tried to provide some biographical information about Collin himself. Sources for this biographical information were Gustav Moessner's introduction to the 1984 illustrated reprint/new edition of the Der Pressbengel and Karl Wolfskehls Briefwechsel aus Neuseeland 1938-1948, the published correspondence of German emigre Karl Wolfskehl who corresponded with many of the creative elite who were able to flee Germany. Below the excerpt from page 1215 for Ernst Collin with a birth year matching that in Moessner's introduction (5/31/1886), as well as the direct link to two of Collin's most significant publications.

Ernst Collin came from Berlin and worked in publishing both there and in Munich
and was also active as a bookbinder and literary critic married M[argarethe] Pohl in 1924.
He was youth friend of the painter Albert Weisgerber, the first husband of M. Pohl. "Deutsche
Einbandkunst, 1918, and "Paul Kersten, the leader of German fine binding," 1925, were written by him."

The other challenging source was Kosch's Deutsches Literatur-Lexikon des 20Jh, (München: KG Saur 2003, Bd 5, p.325). This cited the Leo Baeck Institute's collection that houses the papers of Ernst Collin-Schönfeld that make no mention of any of his editorial positions or writings beyond poetry in the biography or item-level finding aid.

Kosch. Deutsches Literatur-Lexikon des 20Jh, München- KG Saur 2003, Bd 5, 325.jpg

For purposes of my introduction this was the best I could find in 2008, and while I was curious to learn more and had lingering doubts, I did not dig deeper with any urgency. It turns out that Moessner was also a bit confused on some of the other details in his introduction, that like mine focused more on what Collin's work meant for the craft of bookbinding. While the Wolfskehl Correspondence raised many questions, the linkages were there in the form of the specific titles, no Pressbengel however. Kosch did mention the Pressbengel, but also Paul Kersten and other writings.

In late February, I was contacted by a Ruth Wiseman on the East Coast who is researching her genealogy, and believed she was related to Georg Collin (Ernst's father and the Hofbuchbinder/Courtbookbinder to the German Emperor) and Ernst Collin. She found my translation online (a benefit of "open access"). This intrigued me deeply and on many levels, and we have been actively corresponding ever since, 100+ emails since 2/20 with lots of shared resources. Given some other changes in my life related to work this was a very welcome diversion. So now, listening to the music of Kurt Weill that helped define the artistic life of Berlin between the wars, we will tell the story of two Ernsts. The video in my previous post frames this era visually.

A starting point was Wolfskehl's correspondence that provided several names including his wife, Margarethe whose first husband was the painter Albert Weisgerber. Weisgerber fell in WWI (ironically serving in the same unit as a certain Corporal), and his work as a painter was later labeled degenerate. Since originally translating Collin's Pressbengel, the papers of an Ernst Collin[-Schönfeld] (According to inventory 1886?-1953, but birth year of 1882 in biographical sketch in collection and death year of 1954 on headstone) came online at the Center for Jewish History/Leo Baeck Institute in NYC showing an Ernst married to just this Margarethe Collin. According to a biography provided by Margarethe, this Ernst was born in Nordhausen; lost his father, a Fritz Schönfeld at a young age; and his mother remarried Adolf Collin, a businessman who adopted Ernst and his older brother Paul. No mention of a Georg Collin or bookbinding. There was also information on the page of a genealogist that even included a picture. Dates were wrong though, never mind the fact that none of the publications were familiar. If this was "our" Ernst, it showed him as having gotten out of Nazi Germany and having died in London.

Naively, I had never thought of Collin as Jewish, "subversive," or degenerate, but the period in Germany between "The Wars" was very turbulent with civil war, hyper-inflation, depression... Moessner in his introduction had written that Collin was missing since 1933 (when the Nazis took power)... The book, Broken Glass, Broken Lives: A Jewish Girl's Survival Story in Berlin 1933-1945 written by Rita J. Kuhn, the mother of Ruth with whom I am corresponding, (and Georg Collin’s great-niece), provided a very good picture of the situation in Berlin during that period from the perspective of a child who survived it. Highly recommended reading on many levels, it also provided some good starting points for researching further. Anything could have happened to “our” Ernst.

I had also recently read Anna Nyburg's, From Leipzig to London: The Life and Work of the Émigré Artist Hellmuth Weissenborn (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press 2012. ISBN 9781584563143. 192 pages. $29.95), a book that was just reviewed for Bonefolder Extras. While focusing specifically on the illustrator Hellmuth Weissenborn it did a very good job describing the period leading up the takeover of the Nazis in Germany, the increasing spiral of anti-semitism, emigration, and life in the diaspora.

After finding the obituary below for Ernst Collin in the April 1954 issue of the Association of Jewish Refugees Information I wrote to Professor Nyburg in London, this émigré community is her special area of interest and research, and I asked if she had any leads I could follow. That correspondence is still ongoing, but so far no leads. Another obituary written by Julius Bab, a German dramatist and theater critic, appeared in the Aufbau. Why would there not have been any mentions in the obituary of the prolific writings on bookbinding by Collin? Concurrently, my partner in this research was reaching out via the genealogy networks to peers in the UK and elsewhere, netting the gravesite below. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary they still believe that this is "our" Ernst.

Ernst Collin's grave in London. From

Muddling the situation further was the catalog of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek that showed 2 Ernst Collins (records 46/47 and 50), the writer of so many articles and a few monographs on bookbinding (with a birth year of 1886 but no death date). and a Collin-Schönfeld (1882-1953) with few known publications (just one if Bab is correct).

Two Ernsts married to the same woman? So, who's who? What's the truth?

Our "other" Ernst studied at universities, enrolling in many classes primarily in literature, but never testing/completing these to the annoyance of his step-father who worked in banking in Berlin. He wrote poems, and was known to have affections for men and women. At age 19 he showed series of poems to the publisher now known as Axel Juncker who published a selection under the title of "Lieder eines Knaben," "Songs  by/of a Boy." Julius Bab's obituary indicated that he only published one work, most likely this one. Ernst also associated himself with the "art scene" in Berlin and Munich. To become more independent he moved to Great Britain to teach at the Berlitz School, spent some time teaching for Berlitz in Constantinople, and returned to Germany to fight in WWI. He was initially in the Bavarian cavalry, but was was then transferred to an artillery unit because he was Jewish. There he served with distinction, was awarded the Iron Crosses 2nd and 1st class, and reached the rank of Captain. It is not clear when he married Margarethe Weisgerber. Following the war he found it hard to reestablish himself, losing much of his assets during the period of hyper-inflation, but finally finding employment as an archivist among other things with the Berlin banking firm of Dreyfus & Co., working there until its "aryanization" in 1939 when he emigrated to Great Britain to work as a secretary with the Dresdner Bank. When WWII broke out he, like all "enemy"/German émigrés, lost his position, and began a gradual decline until his death. [From Ernst Collin Collection, biographical info and writings, Center for Jewish History/Leo Baeck Institute.]

This could not have been the Ernst Collin who wrote Der Pressbengel and other bookbinding related publications...

Digging through my own research library that contains among other things the complete set of the Meister der Einband Kunst's (MDE) Jahrbuch der Einbankunst, several of Collin's other writings, the 1927 Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbinderein, HathiTrust, Worldcat, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Google...,  I began to develop a better picture of the extent of his publishing, the date range (well into the mid-1930s refuting Moessner's 1933 date), and became friends with our inter-library loan department requesting just about everything I could not find in my own library or online.

I also wrote to the archives of the MDE in Münster, the Jewish Community of Berlin, and other bookbinders and bookbinding organizations in Germany, with but a very small number of helpful leads. In one case, the response was does it matter and why are you doing this...?

The inventory for the archives of MDE is online and showed little, with the archivist making an effort - travel there is not really an option, though at some time I may engage a proxy researcher. However, Die Heftlade No. 1, 1922 did provide an address for Ernst Collin in Berlin. This was a journal produced by Collin for the Jakob-Krause-Bund, the precursor to MDE, and published by the same Euphorion Verlag as Der Pressbengel.

An address! Wandering through the myriad of archives and other collections I discovered the address/telephone for Berlin online, searchable and browseable back to 1799. Below the entry for [Collin], Ernst from 1922 at Sachsenwaldstrasse 25 in Berlin-Steglitz, a mixed residential commercial district with little pre-war architecture left.

A match! Note also the "Schriftsteller" following Ernst. This indicated profession/trade for many, and made it easier to distinguish between entries. "Our" Ernst lived here from 1922-23 as a Schriftsteller (writer), then 1924-28 as Redakteur (editor). Below the 1928 entry. Note that there is an Ernst described as a "bank beamt." above his listing.

Directly above "Ernst Schriftstell" is an Ernst working at a bank.Our other Ernst?

Meanwhile, Ruth had contacted the Jewish cemetery in  Berlin and located the grave of Georg Collin (10/22/1851 – 12/24/1918) whom we both believe to be the father of "our" Ernst. That W.  Collin was the father of Georg is established, but there was still no direct linkage between them and Ernst. Thanks to inter-library loan, I was able to read a number of articles written by Ernst and found the missing link in the 1925 article "Die deutsche Kunstbuchbinderei der Gegenwart," published in the Gutenberg Jahrbuch. A birth certificate for Ernst would still be desirable though.

"Around the turn the turn of the century, the Berlin bindery of W. Collin (at that time on the direction
of my father Georg Collin (Deceased in 1918), one of the best bookbinders of all time)
worked with artists like Sütterlin, Eckmann, Christiansen..." [Pg. 79)

"I'd also like to refer to the Pressbengel, my book that was published by
the Euphorion Verlag, and attempts to bring together traditional craft bookbinding
with the expectations of bibliophiles. My book about Paul Kersten, a festschrift in honor of
his 60th birthday, and the first biography of a bookbinder, was recently published for the
Jakob Krause Bund, of which Kersten was honorary president,
by my Corvinus-Antiquariat, Berlin Steglitz." [Pg.81]

Whether Ernst was also trained as a bookbinder is uncertain at this time, but what is known is that he was an antiquarian bookseller and publisher, doing business as the Corvinus-Antiquariat Ernst Collin Gmbh (Inc) at Mommsenstrasse 27 in Berlin Charlottenburg, a rather nice district. The listing below is from 1925, the same year as the article above.

In 1929, Collin moved to  Cicerostrasse 61 in Berlin Wilmersdorf where he lived into 1939, first from 1929-32 as Redakteur, then again from 1933-39 as Schriftsteller. Listing below from 1929.

Directly above "Ernst Schriftstell" the other Ernst still working at a bank.

Wilmersdorf was a fashionable area, and Cicerostrasse a beautiful apartment block designed and built by the architect Erich Mendelsohn between 1927-31. Mendelsohn was on the cutting edge of architecture at the time, also designing the Einstein Tower, an observatory in Potsdam near Berlin. Ernst was doing quite well for himself. Note, however, the "demotion" from editor to write in 1933. This would have been a result of the Schriftleitergesetz of October 4, 1933 that removed non-Aryans (Jews) from editorial positions, one of the early steps to isolate and marginalize in the Nuremberg Laws. These also forbade contacts between  the groups and made it increasingly difficult for the two groups to interact on any levels and for either Ernst to work. MDE decided to disband in 1937 because according to the MDE archive site it did not want to bow to the laws, laws that would have had an impact on some members and friends of the group such as Martin Breslauer, the famous bibliophile and antiquarian.

The last listing for Ernst from 1939.

After 1939 no more addresses or listings could be found for him. The Nuremberg Laws forbade Jews to live in the same buildings as Aryans (non-Jewish Germans), those that owned property had to sell it at staggering losses, and move to mini-ghettos that could be as small as an apartment house, so-called Judenhäuser, that were often over-filled. The impact of these laws on a personal level is well described in Broken Glass, Broken Lives, and a recent article in the New York Times entitled "The Holocaust just got more shocking." Ernst would probably have been relocated to one of these...

Putting together these different pieces I took the step of going to Yad Vashem, to the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names where I found an Ernst Collin. His name is linked to both the List of murdered Jews from Germany (known as the Memorial Book/Gedenkbuch) and List of deportations from Berlin with links to the sources of that information.  Below are the search results for Collin, Ernst. The birth date matches that provided by Moessner in his introduction, the one biographical fact he had right.

From Gedenkbuch Berlins der jüdischen Opfer des Nazionalsozialismus, Freie Universitaet Berlin,
Zentralinstitut fuer sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung, Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1995. Note that the
print version also included the street address of Cicerostr. 61 we saw in the Adressbuch above...

While there are still loose ends to wrap up, we both believe we have sorted out the Ernsts, and given both back their own identities. Questions as to Ernst's professional activities, i.e. did he apprentice as a bookbinder or as an antiquarian, did he study...? What was his family/marital status. Some details may be still be uncovered, some lost in the mists of a turbulent time.

Subsequent posts here will describe the father and grandfather of Ernst, the Court Bookbinders W. Collin and Georg Collin, followed by an expanded bibliography of Ernst's writings.

A new edition of my translation of Collin's Der Pressbengel (The Bone Folder) will also appear in time and incorporate some this new information.