Sunday, February 23, 2014

Creating order, or ...

Creating order, or the delusion of it... Yes, I now have a 3rd Iron Horse book truck... Currently using it to hold my Pressbengel Project/Ernst Collin/German binding history materials as those are being referred to the most. Will also be clearing some of my journals off of the shelves for more space... Perhaps I should get some off-site storage for the low use/no-use... ;-) And, yes that is salmon leather hanging off of the end of the book truck.

And here 1 & 2... Clearly need to tackle piles on the one in the foreground. Back one holds my artist's book collection and most of my bindings...

Now to clear/clean the bench... so I can finish my conservation work and get back to binding projects.Rediscovered some nice textblocks I had collected over the years, Press Intermezzo among them...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Something Fishy - Fish Leather for Binding

In 1919, after the end of World War I, there were severe shortages and civil unrest in Germany. This situation repeated itself after World War II. These shortages led to a high level of experimentation with ersatz (replacement/alternative) materials such as straw for paper and board, spun paper, ..., silk instead of linen for sewing thread, but also colored straw for inlays (Strohintarsien). Ernst Collin and others wrote articles on the subject in such periodicals as the Archiv für Buchgewerbe, the Buchbinderlehrling, and the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien. This post is about one of those "ersatz" materials, fish leather.

In "Fischhaut zu Bucheinbänden" from the Archiv für Buchgewerbe ( Vol. 56, 1919) the bookbinder Franz Martini of Charlottenburg (Berlin) recounted a war experience in which he saw cod skins that had been pulled off the fish in a field kitchen in Belgium and discarded. Drawing on his experiences at the bindery of Lüderitz and Bauer, he examined the skins to ensure there were no cuts/tears, then carefully removed the scales and made parchment from them, using them to bind various such as military journals. Based on these experiments he deemed the fish parchment superior to calf or sheep for durability and working properties such as the ability to mold over raised cords without wrinkling.

Martini had the leather tested at the national testing center on the recommendation of Paul Kersten (Director of the School for Artistic Bookbinding in Berlin), and the Director of Royal Library of Berlin. The results of this testing were impressive, especially in terms of fold and tear strength where the fish parchment easily reached 50,000 double folds without damage.

Material: Fish skin (untanned), sheep parchment, calf parchment
Mittlere Reißlänge in mm = average breaking length in mm
Mittlere Dehnung in % = average stretching in %
Resistance to folding.

After these tests Martini also developed a way to tan these fish skins to leather, also taking out a "utility model" (Nr. 674 741), a more limited form of patent, on this invention. Below some images of bindings he  created with these tanned skins from the Archiv für Buchgewerbe. Obviously, fish skins are most suited to half/quarter bindings due to their shape... Images from Archiv für Buchgewerbe ( Vol. 56, 1919).

Half-leather extra binding with leather onlay and original pastepaper

Half-leather extra binding with leather onlay and original pastepaper

In the 1934 Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien (Vol 49, Nr 19), Ernst Collin wrote an article titled "Bucheinbände aus Fischhaut" ("Bookbindings in Fish Leather") that described the process in more detail, illustrated with photographs by Ernst. Shown is the same Franz Martini as mentioned above demonstrating how to remove the skin from the fish and prepare it. Martini has been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of tanning fish on a variety of species including cod, halibut, shark, eel, and others. Ernst points out that one of the reasons fish leather is not common is that most consumers prefer to cook the fish with the skin on - he suggests wrapping in gauze for the same effect, the cooking method is not mentioned.

From "Bucheinbände aus Fischhaut"
Click to enlarge.

The article recaps an earlier article by Paul Kersten from the  1917 (Nr 7) Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien which was similar to the 1919 article mentioned above. Ernst's article also states that Martini's attempt to patent the process failed as it was not unique enough and had been described in earlier publications.

Ernst concludes by praising this material and encouraging the German fisheries to take advantage of the need for durable yet affordable native materials to help contribute to sustainability and German economic independence.

The 1938 volume of the Buchbinderlehrling, a periodical for apprentices, describes the manufacture of fish leather in the context of the 4-year plan to make Germany independent of imports, and increased rationing in advance of the looming war...

The fish were carefully skinned and then tanned in rotating drums using a vegetable tannage -  sumac, dividivi, or willow. Unfortunately the tannins in most domestic plants were not effective enough. To dye the skins, aniline dyes and pigments (for darker colors) were used. Finally, the leather is pressed and glazed. Overall, these processes are identical to tanning other animal skins with an equivalent quality possible. Fish leather retains its flexibility and softness. It is also very resistant to tearing.

The article concludes by reminding the upcoming bookbinders that this is a material that they will need to become comfortable with, just as all other binding materials.

A final article on the subject from the 1946 (Nr 12) issue of the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien leads with "Fish Leather Developed by Bookbinder." It recaps the articles mentioned above, and concludes by saying fish leather has established itself as a binding (and other leather trades) material, but no one remembers that a bookbinder first developed it.

Images of fish leathers below from my leather "stores." Of these the eel is the thinnest and smoothest by far, and only really useable on millimeter bindings, on small/light books, or for onlays. Almost no paring is required for use.

The other fish leathers, trout, salmon, cod, and carp are available glazed and suede. Paring is possible, but what I've found most effective is pasting out the back for dimensional stability and letting it dry on Mylar. Peel off and sand (a "micro" belt sander is great) with a little edge-paring. These leathers can easily be used as a structural element of the binding, just as any other leather - they're not just for onlays...

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The dogfish/shark and stingray skins are very difficult to pare, the former being very rubbery - kills Scharfix blades, fast.  The stingray is very hard and best used as an in/onlay. Cutting with a knife also very difficult. Probably the reason I haven't used it yet. Abigail Bainbridge wrote a great description of working with shagreen for the West Dean College Current Projects blog.

Click to enlarge

Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019)

"Fish Tales, experiments with fish skin for bookbinding
The New Bookbinder: Journal of Designer Bookbinders (2020)

Below examples of bindings using fish leather that I have made. Click image to enlarge.

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.

The Book of Origins – Le Livre des Origines, André Ricard, 2004

Modified Bradel binding (Gebrochener Rücken); textblock sewn on three slips of Cave Paper brown walnut dyed paper; endpapers of Cave Paper brown walnut dyed paper; gilt top edge; sewn silk endbands; Bradel case with 1/4 veined calf vellum spine and undyed goatskin sides; slips laced through at joint; decor of codfish leather onlay and blind tooling.
22.5 x 14.5 x 2.5 cm. Bound 2005. Collection of Karen Hanmer.

Gaylord Schanilec and Clarke Garry, Mayflies of the Driftless Region, Midnight Paper Sales Press, 2005

“Open joint” binding; sewn on 3 brown salmon leather slips; flyleaves and doublures of Cave Paper “layered indigo day” paper; graphite top edge; rolled endbands brown salmon leather; spine covered in gray salmon leather; boards covered in full vellum with printed illustrations from text below; salmon leather slips attached to boards and framed with decorative weathered wood veneer; tied mayfly attached to front board. 26.5 x 19 x 2 cm. Bound 2013.

Ladislav Hanka, Remembering Jan Sobota, 2013

Modified Bradel binding (Gebrochener Rücken); layered Indigo Night Cave Paper endpapers; sewn link stitch on 5 reinforced slips of same paper as ends; endbands of endpaper paper around core; spine covered in brown Kangaroo with cutouts to reveal slips and sewing; boards covered in brown tie-dyed Pergamena deer parchment; onlays of suede Salmon leather with fishing fly mounted into lacuna in parchment; title stamped in gold on front board. 33 x 25.4 x 1 cm.Bound 2013.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst 2

Back in April of 2012 I shared this binding from my reference library, one of those books that changes how you approach your field and the history of it. Below a snippet from that blog post...

The copy above, bound by/in the firm of E.A. Enders (Leipzig) is from my collection. I remember being blown away by it on many levels when it was brought into Bill Minter's shop by a dealer who wanted to have a nice clamshell box made for it. Much to Bill's chagrin, the book was sold on the spot (for what was then a lot of money) with a box made shortly thereafter in my own then modest studio. I very quickly found myself sucked into the essays, especially the ones on contemporary binding. It was my first (and really only) design binding purchase and I still love to study the design, the combination of decor, the typographic elements - Germans integrated the title into designs more so than other traditions - and also the little flaws that make it "human."
Yesterday another one of my orders arrived from Germany, this time from Antiquariat Peter Ibbetson, the kind of order one needs to sign for, so glad it was Saturday... Among them was book that I had dawdled over ordering, Musterbetriebe deutscher Wirtschaft: Die Großbuchbinderei E.A. Enders, Leipzig - München from 1929. Translated, "Model Businesses of German Industry," the introduction challenges the reader to learn about German model businesses, pointing out the deluge of publications by and about American model industries, and that these are better known than the "native" German ones... This one is number 6 in the series, here the WorldCat record..

Although part of a series, this book is very similar to the many other publications by binderies such as Extra Binding at the Lakeside Press (R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company, 1925), or Ernst Collins' essays "Fünfzig Jahre deutscher Verlegereinband, 1875 - 1925" in Festschrift Hübel & Denck (Leipzig: Hübel & Denck, 1925) or "Vom guten Geschmack und von der Kunstbuchbinderei" in Spamersche Buchbinderei (Leipzig: Spamer, 1914). These publications tend to give a history of the book and the bindery, highlighting the functional areas with illustrations of the workspaces and the bindings produced in them.

So in reading/leafing through the book I get to page 39 (Sonderabteilung für Handeinbände, Extra Binding Department) and what do I find??? Look familiar? Unfortunately, the 6 pages of that section don't provide any details about the binding, although other bindings mentioned are described as exemplars of the materials and techniques applied in this kind of work.

I also found it in the Archiv für Buchbinderei, 1928

Oh, so very glad I grabbed it...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Aber mal im Ernst

Aber mal im Ernst = but seriously folks, let's ...

Been enjoying a wave of successes in my quest to add to my bibliography of Ernst Collin's writings.

Some successes based on minimal references/citations from Google Books snippets were filled by the amazing Inter-Library Loan staff at Syracuse. Some of those led me to finding other publishing venues Ernst was active in. One was Das Echo: das Blatt der deutschen im Auslande, a periodical for Germans living abroad - articles were meant to keep them in touch with what was going on in the Fatherland. In additions to articles about bookbinding, there are articles on textile design, silver-smithing, jewelry-making, but also one on household/kitchen appliances and one on why the Treaty of Versailles was bad deal for Germany. HathiTrust held some of the volumes of this title, starting in 1913 and ending in 1922... First Ernst appearance in 1920 with about 6 articles per year. Unfortunately there are gaps, but output trending up.

Also went back to some other journals, Archiv für Buchgewerbe and Archiv für Buchbinderei leafing through page-by-page-by-page, several hundreds per volume. That netted a few more articles not captured by OCR.

Then in the ink-on-paper category, a modest package from Buchatelier Bischoff that included the original publications as issued of Deutsche Einbandkunst: Ausstellung des Jakob-Krausse-Bundes, Vereinigung deutscher Kunstbuchbinder, im Weissen Saal des Schloßmuseums zu Berlin, September -Oktober 1921. Published for the Jacob-Krausse-Bund by Ernst; Spamersche Buchbinderei, Leipzig; Werkstatt für Kunsteinbände with the essay by Ernst; and finally the complete run of Die Heftlade the journal of the Jakob-Krause-Bund that was absorbed into Meister der Einbandkunst. Ernst Collin published and edited the journal in addition to contributing articles to it on a wide range of topics. Most of the articles are short, but that's ok. Like many journals of the era, it also includes tipped-in samples of printing and decorated paper.

On the way still is the Festschrift Hübel & Denck Leipzig, 1875-1925 with an essay by Ernst among others. Like the Spamersche Buchbinderei, this is another publication by one of the significant trade binderies in Leipzig, both with fine/extra binding departments. A history of E.A. Enders is also on the way in another order.

Also Ernst related, the 1947 volume of Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien,  the first postwar volume that contains a mention of the firm of W. Collin and Ernst... Had a scan of that via ILL but was glad to get original hardcopy. Also included in that volume are about half of 1936 I believe, very close to the end of Ernst's publishing career. Access to volumes of this title is one of my greatest challenges - it's not just about being locked up for copyright, it's not even available to search for snippets or words on a page...

The in-process bibliography of Ernst writings has now grown to about 145 articles and monographs on a broad range of subjects, beyond bookbinding. About 40 of those added in the past week or so in a sustained systematic effort.

The bibliography can be linked to via the top navigation bar of this blog - Ernst Collin Bibliography. For those in the US who can read German, there are links to about half the titles at HathiTrust. Citations, leads ALWAYS appreciated.

Ernst Collin was a very active, versatile, and good thoughtful writer with a confident sense of place/presence.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Conrad Blum, Buchbinder

A month or so ago, via eBay, I acquired this bill from the bookbinder Conrad Blum in Offenbach dated 21 October, 1842. Offenbach at that time was part of the Grand Duchy of Hessen and is now considered part of the Frankfurt (Main) metropolitan area.

Although fluent in German, the handwriting style of the time is not my strong point. I'm also not sure what currency is being referred to (Gulden or Thaler), especially as the Customs Union (Zollverein) led by Prussia was growing in member states at that time. A more contemporary comparison would be the expansion of the Eurozone... Hessen-Darmstadt of which Offenbach was a part joined in 1837.

A high-resolution PDF of the bill has been saved here. Any assistance in transcribing VERY welcome.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Reference Collection Development

Interesting collection of reading material arrived in my reference library over the past month or so…

First, two titles by Paul Adam. The first is Lehrbücher der Buchbinderei: Die einfachen handwerksmässigen Buchbinderarbeiten ohne Zuhilfenahme von Maschinen (1924) a thin manual describing the most basic and essential tasks to be completed in a bindery leaving out machines. (boardshears and presses don’t count). Obviously written for apprentices, this one came from the public library in Bayreuth and showed a fairly active circulation in the first decade of it’s life. Then came the war… Paper not great, but lots of provenance. It’s also the kind of title that would have been in every proper trade school library and larger bindery. Needs some TLC, but then there is the bit about the shoemakers kids (and I had 7 generations of master shoemakers in my family)…

Illustration from Adam, Lehrbücher der Buchbinderei:
Die einfachen handwerksmässigen Buchbinderarbeiten
ohne Zuhilfenahme von Maschinen

The other Adam title in this batch is Die deutscheste Art der Einbandverzierung (1928), a Festschrift for the 47th gathering of the Bundes Deutscher Buchbinder-Innungen. Not sure why it was the titled “the most German of binding decoration techniques” (tooling), but looks to be an interesting read. That was “bound” into a simple card wrapper… Like the one above, needs some TLC to make sure the single leaves don’t fall out.

Next up E(rich) A(dolf) Bogeng’s Der Bucheinband: ein Handbuch für Buchbinder und Bücherfreunde (1940). Title translated is Bookbinding: a handbook for bookbinders and bibliophiles. It’s an interesting overview of the book and book/trade history broken down into by general history; structural elements;  decorative techniques; binders and bibliophiles, … I found the arrangement the interesting part – there are no illustrations. Bogeng was one of THE German writers about bookbinding and bibliophilic culture in the late 19th, first half of the 20th century. This one was reprinted in several editions.

I also acquired two volumes of Der Buchbinderlehrling (The Bookbinding Apprentice) a “journal” published for apprentices in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland by the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, the trade publication late 19th century and most of the 20th century. A journal like this was a bridge to trade school that continued the overall education of the young apprentices because they were dropped from the university-bound track. Subjects included social studies, math, and science as they related to binding. This also included paper making, leather tanning and parchment making, cloth, and in-depth engineering of bookbinding machines...

Years I received were 1932 and 1938 with 12 issues each. Quite a contrast between the two.

First in 1932, an article by Ernst Collin and the first in a series titled Bedeutende Männer des Buchbinderhandwerks (Important Men in Bookbinding) – the subject, Ernst's father Georg Collin, Court Bookbinder who died in 1918. Ernst' Der Pressbengel was dedicated to him. While most of Collin’s writing is academic, this was written with a much more casual tone making it more accessible for apprentices. There was also a multi-part article on gold tooling by Walter Gerlach (1892 – 1982). Trying to find out if there was a connection between him and Gerhard Gerlach. Gerhard Gerlach married Kathryn Edwards, and both studied with Wiemeler in Leipzig in the early 30s. There were also two tipped-in cards with material samples and articles on how to use those, a nice article about the life and impact of Roger Payne (illustrated by the engraving of him hunched over a press), and one telling soon to be journeymen that despite the fact that most would be unemployed after completing their apprenticeship, that they should remain hopeful and engaged. Also an interesting, ongoing series about architectural styles and history.

1938 was quite a change, and it was clear who was now running the country. Oddly, issue 1 from 1933 had been bound in instead of 1938... The volume had an article on fish leather, Igraf (a cellulose-based ersatz paper/parchment with the look of Elephant Hide, a paper now produced by Zanders, and a longer article by Franz Weisse on marbling. This contained the same illustrations as his work about marbling that was republished by Richard J. Wolfe as The Art of Marbling (Wolfe also had some things to say about the politics of the time). To round it out, articles on the need to bring bookbinding (and all the trades) into the nationalistic fold, competitions for apprentices and journeymen, depictions of bindings extolling the virtues of the Führer and Party… One image showed Otto Dorfner, Hugo Wagner, and Franz Weisse jurying bindings, some with their party pins in place… Below another from a national trades meeting. The "youth" of the trades are being addressed...

Buchatelier Bischoff in German is reprinting the complete run of the Buchbinderlehrling (1927 – 1944) on a subscription basis, every two months a new year... I already received 1927. No Ernst Collin articles, but several by Maria Luers, the first woman bookbinding Meister in Germany. This is going to be fun. They also republish many other classic German binding titles in sheets or bound. Check them out.

Another image from the 1938 volume.
Notice anything peculiarly practical?

Almost as a logical follow-up to the 1938 issue above, a nice catalog Ausstellung Malerei, Graphik, Buchkunst (1955) that featured bindings by Otto Dorfner in addition to the prints and paintings by two other artists. Dorfner worked largely in Weimer, a town that ended up in the Soviet Occupation Zone after the war, what became the German Democratic Republic (DDR). Stylistically, the binding shown continue the strong German style of design and tooling that was also used by Wiemeler…. Interestingly, in addition to books by Goethe, there are also bindings on works by Stalin, Karl Marx, Ernst Thälman, Wilhelm Pieck, … Communists, Soviets, and East German leaders all.

I think that there is a post/article in there about politics and the trade(s). Just need to line up some visuals (have lots in various books) and try to find some examples elsewhere. I could start it off with a "song" sung at the German Bookbinder's Assembly in Berlin in which the formation of the German Empire in 1871 is described in the context of binding a book... Designer Bookbinders had a 2008 exhibition Socialism: A Celebration in which binders selected historically significant socialist texts from the collection of Lord Tom Sawyer of Darlington, but that exhibition was not about the bookbinding trade in the service of a particular ruling ideology. There is also a rich history of Marxist (and other) children's books, but that's not design bookbinding either... If anyone has any examples I'd love to hear about them.

Another book was the 1995 Festschrift of the Buchbinder-Innung (Guild) Berlin-Brandenburg. Lots of interesting details about the trade in Berlin over 400 years also indicating some differences with the Verein Berliner Buchbindermeister (Organization of Master Bookbinders in Berlin) whose Chronik I also own, and that provided lots of good information on the Collins. Some of the differences apparently center on Maria Lühr (first woman to learn the trade under Georg Collin and Joseph Zaehnsdorf, and first female Meister in Germany), the role of women in the trade and training, and the Lette Verein, an organization for women that taught trades. It still exists.

I had long had a copy of Lawrence S. Thompson's Kurze Geschichte der Handbuchbinderei in den vereinigten Staaten von Amerika (Stuttgart: Max Hettler, 1955), and given that Thompson was American working at the University of Kentucky Library was perplexed to not find the title available in English. That changed this week when I received A Short History of Bookbinding in the United States by Lawrence S. Thompson. From the dealer copy:
This is from a most curious assembled typescript I just bought, "with pp. 1-12 (and possibly an unnumbered 13th page following) provided in original typescript, pp. 11-34 (continuing the text uninterrupted, though in a different type font) provided in facsimile/photocopy, all printed on recto only. The latter portion shows several stamps from the University of Kentucky Libraries and various corrections to the typescript, so we are tempted to assume that it may be a copy."
I was able to confirm that this is the original English of an article published in/for Germany. I couldn't find an English version of my "unpublished" typescript, OCLC shows that just at the University of Kentucky where Thompson was Librarian. Vito J. Brenni's bibliography Bookbinding, a guide to the literature indicates that this was published in English as Some Notes on the History of Bookbinding in the United States, American Book Collector, Vol 7, Nos 5-7, Jan-Mar, 1955. Still trying to find a copy though... Interestingly found what seems to be an abridged version of the article in a journal - Hand Bookbinding in the United States Since the Civil War, Libri, Vol 5, no 2, 1954 (97-121)

Thompson's titles contain much information of interest (in particular to me) on German-trained binders in the US. Many of those named were indicated as being members of the Guild of Book Workers, too. He also published Fine Binding In America, The Story Of The Club Bindery, but that is a different book. A Short History... concluded with "Even in the atomic age, hand bookbinding will have a strong place in the culture of the United States." Thoughts?

The interlibrary loan department at Syracuse  also came through with some articles by Ernst Collin from 1934-36, and one about the Collins' as Hofbuchbinder that also mentioned Ernst from the 1947 (all from the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien). VERY glad to have those.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mayflies of the Driftless Region - Done

Heading into the home stretch thanks to a week off at home. Plenty of procrastination, a speciality, but also good work on Mayflies and another binding...

First the open joint (offener Falz) where the only board attachment to the textblock is via the tapes, in this case a laminate of vellum and fish leather. The gray elements are stained birch veneer.

Then, an overview with boards attached, exterior and interior.

Attaching the final design elements to the middle of the fore-edge.

Attaching the tied mayfly to front board


Mayfly detail

Final steps, detail, touch-up where needed, make box!

To the Dorfner/de Gonet style (bottom of first post in series), I like it and have another binding using it in the works. Even though this is a smallish to average sized book, the tapes/slips must be flexible when opening cover, yet rigid so textblock does not sag. Nice to be able to work covers and textblock separately and then join.. I'm sure I'll have other thoughts as I give it the look(s) over...