Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fancied-up Books 2

Another commission that involved rebinding a modern trade binding. I had rediscovered several sheets of beautiful birch veneer and used this binding as an excuse to try weathering the wood and seeing how it worked as a prelude to another binding. It's nice to be able to transfer skills and materials from my model railroad hobby, but the other binding had its problems - while the wood turned in fairly easily on these 40pt boards, it was a bit more challenging on the other book, cracking and separating from the paper backing... On the upside and while hard to see in the image, the wood took the gold stamping for the title well, too. Amy Borezo has used this with great effect, turning-in or trimming flush with board edges. Her binding on the Guild's 100th Anniversary Catalog is here. The salmon skin was much easier to work with. This one is not polished but suede-like.

On Søren Kierkegaard by Edward F. Mooney

Bound in salmon leather on spine with stained birch veneer covered boards; endpapers of handmade Roma paper; graphite top edge; leather endbands; title stamped in gold on front cover with goat leather onlays. Enclosed is cloth-covered slipcase. Bound 2013.

Concept:Simple and elegant with a weathered look.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cranach Press Hamlet - Process in photographs

Harry Graf Kessler by Edvard Munch
As often happens when reading, one finds a source mentioned, follows it to something else, and off one goes. This was the case for me recently. While researching a mention of Ernst Collin I came across an advertisement for a journal associated with a center-left political party among the names mentioned was an Ernst Collin, but also many other leading figures of the arts, civic organizations, politics, ... Also among the names was Harry Graf Kessler, an Anglo-German count, diplomat, writer, and patron of modern art who in 1903 became Director of the the "Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe" (Arts and Crafts) in Weimar, founding the Deutsche Künstlerbund (German Federation of Artists - a very avant garde group) in the same year. Berlin in Lights, The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler (1918-1937) was reviewed in the New York Times in 2000 by Iain Bamforth, with the review entitled "Present at the Destruction" providing a good introduction to the man and the times.

In 1913, Kessler founded the Cranach Press in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement and inspired by the likes of William Morris,  the Doves Press, Cobden Sanderson, and others to publish livre d'artistes. Among those he worked with were Eric Gill, Henry van der VeldeAristide Maillol and Edward Gordon Craig . It was the latter who illustrated the Cranach Press' Hamlet in 1928. Sarah Werner in her Wynken de Worde blog has a good illustrated description of the Hamlet.

The Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek in Weimar is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Press and issued a wonderful catalog that provides background information on Kessler, his activities in Weimar, with the remainder given over to the depicting works Kessler published, including job work. The bulk of the illustrations are dedicated to the livre d'artiste however.

Also included in the catalog is a poster depicting the process of creating Hamlet, including layout, preparing the paper, proofing, printing and not enough of the binding process by Otto Dorfner (below). Dorfner was also associated with the Bauhaus in Weimar, was a founding member of Meister der Einbandkunst, but also was on the Nazi's Gottbegnadeten List or artists crucial to the Nazi's culture. He created among other things presentation bindings and objects).

"Professor Otto Dorfner surrounded by his students"
Note the master in his white lab coat (kittel) surrounded by his focused students critiquing work.
From: Weisse, Franz. "Prof Otto Dorfner 25 Jahre Fachlehrer."
Der Buchbinderlehrling, Vol 9, Nr 2, 1935

Back to the poster with images of the printing process. Those fortunately are online in the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek's digital collections. While the poster only has 60 images, the online collection has 96 (still few of the binding process). The collection can be accessed here. Presentation could be better, the images are not really in order of process, and scans from glass plate negatives are interspersed with scans of the envelopes (containing descriptive information). Still a good resource. Navigation (in German only) below. At left, highlighted in the blue panel,  Inhalt gives the list of images that will appear at right, Vorschau provides thumbnails of the images. You can also scroll through using the arrows above the images...

Click to enlarge

The catalog to the exhibit can be ordered online from Amazon. It's in German only, but has lots of pictures.

See also:

This Hamlet is a Fakesimile

Is this really a prospectus for the Cranach Press' edition of *Hamlet*, or a (later) facsimile of one? It's printed on a beautiful cream laid sheet, no watermark. The last page appears, to my high school German, to be a description of the different states in the edition ("eight copies on vellum/parchment...") with prices in Marks. A small addendum at the bottom of that last page tells us the piece is a "keepsake supplied by Gallery 303 to the participants of the Heritage Series."

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.