Friday, August 28, 2020

Piscatorial Bibliopegy, Again

 So, I'll probably never "get over" piscatorial bindings, especially if they just scream using materials as metaphor. Here the latest candidate that arrived in yesterday's post from the shores of some loch in Scotland.

The binding and paper of my copy of Life-history and habits of the salmon, sea-trout, trout, and other Freshwater Fish (1910) show a life of love in a fisherman's cabin, intact (mostly), sewing very loose, cover wear, and just a hint of the general mustiness of wet sheep(dog), fog, and solitude. Almost 300 pages of clay coated paper. 

Copies, including print-on-demand versions are available, and it is also available digitally via Internet Archive at 125mb. This is a fantastic text. richly illustrated with photographs and diagrams. Below a taste.

Hmmm, how to bind. Good thing I have several salmon and sea-trout parchments ready, or maybe I go fishing at Loch Wegman in the lowlands of Dewitt and tan the skin.

This catch is definitely a keeper. Now to clean, cut up into its parts, and take it from there... The front cover and spine will be integrated somehow...







For more inspiration, check out the 2020 Fish Skin Bind-O-Rama!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Fish Skin - Tanned Fish Skin - Fish Parchment

The images below are a selection of those in Franz Weisse's 1938 article "Fischhaut - Fischleder - Fischpergament" published in Das deutsche Buchbinderhandwerk, Vol 2, Nr 9, 1938. Das deutsche Buchbinderhandwerk was created by a consolidation of all the bookbinding trade publications under the National Socialists to make it easier to control the message... As such nationalistic tones and appeals were integral, and the trades were of national importance.

The article recaps many of the themes around using fish in binding from austerity measures, to self-reliance (no foreign sources), but also to the unique and beautiful variations of the raw material. It references the long history of using fish in Ainu and Siberian (polar) cultures, before discussing the material properties of fish skin, common misconceptions (Oh, the stench...!), and processes for preserving the skin from tanning to making parchment. Martini's article from 1919 is cited, but not by name, neither is there (as expected) a mention of Ernst Collins' articles just 4 years earlier in the bookbinding trade journals. Much of the article describes the most common/suitable for binding species; salmon, pollack, wolf fish, cod, lingcod, flounder, shark, and eel among others. Woven in are also tips for working and descriptions of the aesthetic properties, and suitable uses.

Weisse also speaks to books bound in fish that were shown in exhibits, clearly rejecting many decorative and metaphoric applications that to him are easy outs and too simplistic – not worthy of the infinite variations and natural characteristics of the skins. As an example, don't use flounder on a binding about the Alps... "We can (must) do better!" He further states that to make use of the material as second nature as that of Morocco or calf vellum it must be more than just a temporal fashion statement... It is our "duty" as German workers in the skilled trades, in this case bookbinding. Apropos exhibits, the Archiv fuer Buchgewerbe recapped a 1918 exhibition of Franz Martini's bindings made from Klippfish (stock fisch, salted cod) parchment at the Deutschen Kulturmuseum für Buch und Schrift in Leipzig. Also mentioned were the tests undertaken on Martini's fish parchment.

Note the size of the fish in these images, most caught closer to their markets as factory-scale fishing was not as common then. Compare with the fishes we see now. A clear sign of over-fishing.

Skinning the fish. Note, the fillet is placed skin down and skinned
that way, kind of like paring leather.

The remaining bits of flesh and scales are removed in a process similar 
to de-hairing mammalian skins prior to making parchment or tanning.


The skins are stretched unto boards with nails.

After tanning, the skins are stretched out on boards to dry.


The finished fish leathers in the hands of the Meister who is examining it 
for aesthetics and usefulness. "What binding is this most appropriate for...?"




Sunday, May 31, 2020

Colliniana 2019-20 - Ernst Collin Updates

As in the past 6 years, on May 31st, Ernst Collin's birthday (This would have been his 134th) I share updates from my research and findings into his life and work. Unfortunately, there seemed to be little new to share about the Collins in 2019 and other things intervened... However, thanks to another mass digitization project and some new acquisitions there are several interesting things to share this year. My text is all English this time to describe findings and images, but all text in images auf Deutsch, naturally.

The most significant of these was the digitization of the Börsenblatt des deutschen Buchhandels (daily newsletter of the German book trades). The collection was digitized by the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (SLUB) in Dresden and features full text indexing and searching. While OCR is challenging at best with variances in paper, type quality, typefaces, I was able to identify a number of articles relating to Ernst Collin. Thank you to all those organizations and individuals who work to expose the literature in this way. I am also grateful that works are passing into the public domain again, in the US, so that volumes for 1923/24 becaume accessible. So, each year will bring new discoveries.

Corvinus Antiquariat Ernst Collin


Mommsen Straße 27 in Charlottenburg where the
Corvinus Antiquariat was located when it opened


Addressbuch entry from 1925

Ernst Collin opened his Corvinus Antiquariat in Charlottenburg on October 15, 1923, during some of the worst of the hyperinflation period... Images below are from the Börsenblatt. The opening and range of inventory was also covered in the Archiv für Buchbinderei, nr 10/11, vol 23, 1923.

Announcement of the Antiquariat being added to the Berlin directory

A mention in the issue of December 28, 1923 concerned the publication of his first catalog containing fine press books, fine bindings, and other bibliophilic texts. The introduction to the catalog was written by E.A.G. Bogeng, a prolific writer and scholar of the book and allied crafts, and also provided some vital details about Ernst's life. The opening coincided with Germany's period of hyperinflation.

From April 27 to May 24, 1924 the Antiquariat hosted an exhibit of works by Walter Klemm's and Alexander Olbricht's Weimar Reiher-Verlag, illustrated books bound by Otto Dorfner, as well as other bindings by him. Also exhibited were paintings and woodcuts by Arthur Segal. This opening was also covered in the Archiv für Buchbinderei, nr 4, vol 24, 1924.

Announcement of the exhibition at the Corvinus Antiquariat

On December 5, 1924, the Börsenblatt carried a notice that the Antiquariat was moving from Charlottenburg to Stegliz, the address Ernst also used as editor of Die Heftlade, Journal of the Jakob-Krause-Bund (J-K-B), an association of fine binders, and for his publication of Paul Kersten in 1925...

Notice of the Antiquariat's move

Finally, on March 17, 1927, the Börsenblatt announced the closure of the Antiquariat, 3ish years after its opening during the period of hyperinflation.

Closure notice

Writings and Speaking


The Boersenblatt also contained reports of Collin speaking publicly as well as containing several articles by him or referencing those in other publications. In the May 8, 1918 edition he wrote about bibliophiles and the art of binding in "Bücherfreunde und Einbandkunst," on April 25, 1923 he stepped in for Fedor von Zobeltitz to give the welcoming talk at the opening of Der Schöne Bucheinband, an exhibit of the J-K-B. This talk was also covered in the Archiv für Buchbindereiand on June 27, 1931 reviewed the "internation book art exhibition" held in Paris that year. He did not go into the details of the German exhibitors to avoid the internal politics of that group... Some of these appeared in the "editorial" section of the Börsenblatt. There was also a back-and-forth exchange with a publisher in response to an article of his in the Tägliche Rundshau, another daily in which the publisher saw Collin's opinions on pricing as being unfair. It also mentioned an article in the Deutsche Verleger of December 1, 1920 about the "cleansing" of foreign terms in the German book trades, "Fremdworterreinigung im deutschen Buchgewerbe." This topic also appeared in various bookbinding trade publications in the years between the World Wars.

The publication of the Pressbengel was also mentioned and the topic of some discussion in the Börsenblatt's October 30, 1922 edition. The announcement mentioned that it has taken a long time for fine bindings and books to receive the kind of recognition they deserve, and that despite the hard economic times, fine books still find willing buyers. It then goes on to describe the nature of the discussion between bibliophile and binder, other titles by Collin, and that like the Heftlade (sewing frame) the Pressbengel (more here) is another essential tool of the bookbinder. Zobeltitz had reviewed the book for Die Heftlade (Nr 4, 1922), published by Collin for the J-K-B. The bookbinding, bibliophile, and arts communities were very interwoven... 

Notice about the Pressbengel. Note the price, an indicator
of the beginnings of the hyperinflation
that would get much worse in 1923.

The December 21, 1922 edition mentioned the Pressbengel at the end of it's Christmas title list, that even if a book lover can't afford new clothes for their favorite books, that can at least read about it, amusingly in the Pressbengel, closing with an acknowledgment of the increasingly bad economic situation and growing hyperinflation.

"If only there weren't that valuta (currency) hyperinflation"

I wrote about some of this in the 2018 post about Ernst Collin und Euphorion Verlag Inserate | Ads.

Below a tweet from the Director of the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (SLUB) that shows the levels of hyperinflation and the reaction of one publisher...


Ernst Collin in the Allgmeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien


I was also able to acquire an "imperfect"copy of the 1929 Allgmeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien (AAB), imperfect in the sense that for one or two issues, 1928  had been bound in instead of 1929. Those apprentices...

This issue contained several articles by Collin, including "Neue Arbeiten der Weimarer Fachschule" led by Otto Dorfner; two articles about bookbinding supplies and decorated papers being shown at the Leipziger Papiermesse (trade fair); "Ein halbes Jahrhundert Fachmann" about Paul Kersten's 50th year practicing and teaching in the trade; and directly connected to items in my collection, a review of Musterbetriebe deutscher Wirtschaft (Model Corporations of German Industry) that was about the trade bindery E.A. Enders. I described that book in my post here, especially pleased that it depicted my copy of the 1927 Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst published by the Meister der Einbandkunst. There was also an article about "Buchbinder in der Literatur," bookbinders appearing in literary works; a review "Bucheinband-Ausstellung in Berlin" about a bindings created by Kersten's students at the Lette Verein (and addition to the previously mentioned article).  Also several other exhibit reviews, and a correction by Collin for omitting the binder Carl Funke from his article about the 25th anniversary of the Berliner Kunstklasse, first led by Kersten. Among those 1928 articles was one "Über die Kunst in der Buchbinderei" about the art in [fine] binding. Those articles will be added to the bibliography of Collins writings soon.

As an added bonus, it also contained several of the issues of  number 1 of the 1929 volume of the Buchbinderlehrling, below nr. 1. This was the journal for apprentices and was included as an insert in the AAB.

Number 1 of the 1929 Buchbinderlehrling as issued in the
Allegemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien.

Connecting Ernst Collin to other threads


I also found an article by Collin about the "Zukunft unserer Kriegsbeschädigten" (Future of Those Disabled by the War) from the Hamburgische Lazarett-Zeitung, Nr 14, 1  Juli, 1916. While not focused on bookbinding, it ties into articles by Paul Adam and others, and shows again the breadth of Collins writings.

I was also pleased to include writings by Collin in my article "Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding that appeared in Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019). Another article on this topic will appear in a UK-based bookbinding journal, and I am also working on a German version. Finally, really, I was asked to write a general, foundational, article on Collin and his Pressbengel for a German publication.

I think this wraps up the past two years. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Making Parchment From Fish Skin (The Webinar)

Now available on YouTube, the recording from today's lunchtime webinar. 109ish viewers while live, not bad. Actually a great turnout. Good questions in live feed as well. Regrettably those were not captured with the video. I did sort of repeat and respond to the questions in the recording though.

Enjoy, and please consider trying this yourself, as well as entering the Bind-O-Rama. The entry form is now online, deadline of June 30 to enter. Hope to see what you've made from fish skin. Early shares are showing a good number of happy nascent piscatorial binders.




To learn more about making parchment from fish, see:
"Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding
Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019)

Friday, April 17, 2020

Carl Schulze Binding on Masereel

Recently acquired a copy of Der Ewiger Jude (The Wandering Jew) illustrated with 12 woodcuts by Frans Masereel in a binding by the Düsseldorf binder Carl Schulze (1861-1937). The text is August Vermeylen's version, translated by Anton Kippenberg in the Insel Verlag's 1923 2nd edition. The story is a very old one, and "concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. The exact nature of the wanderer's indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale, as do aspects of his character; sometimes he is said to be a shoemaker or other tradesman, while sometimes he is the doorman at the estate of Pontius Pilate." [From Wiki] A 2019 article in The Moment points to the anti-semetic nature of the story and how it has been reclaimed, also noting the importance of knowing "who is using the term and why?"

The binding has plain endpapers, a gilt top edge, stuck on woven endbands, and appears to be cased with false raised cords (kind of like Hermann Nitz's "Kombination" Binding, the ur-fancied-up book. I acquired the book a) because I LOVE the woodcuts of Frans Masereel, b) was struck by the decorated paper and binding (very much representative of the aesthetic of German binding of the day), and c) because it was "signed" by the binder.

From an article in the British Bookmaker, vol 2, nr 17, November 28, 1888, Schulze worked with Zaehnsdorf [as a journeyman] for several years. In 1904, the Archiv fur Buchbinderei reports him moving his bindery from Schadowstr 28 to Adlerstr 6. Google Street Views shows that no buildings from the time survived... The firm operated under the name of "Carl Schulze, kunstgewerbliche Werkstatt fur Lederplastik, Buchbinderei, und feinere Lederarbeiten." This is a range of services comparable on many levels to that of W. Collin in Berlin. Carl Schulze was not a member of the Jakob Krause Bund (1923), but the bindery was a member of the Meister der Einbandkunst (1927), with Carl spelled as Karl. The "C" is an artifact of French influences in the Rheinland. Paul Kersten in his Die Buchbinderei und das Zeichnen des Buchbinders... (1909) describes the bindery of Hendrick and Karl Schulze as representative of the new generation of creative and innovative bookbinders.




Detail of the decorated paper, a mono print as taken through a 10x lupe with mm scale.
The numbered vertical marks are in mm. The image was taken with my cell.
You can see the structure of the paper and fibers as well as the ink. If the paper was
mass-produced and printed one might see artifacts from the screen/process.
Thank you to Susanne Krause / Hamburger Buntpapier for asking the question and identifying.

Geb[unden] bei C. Schultze, Düsseldorf.
Stamped at top corner of verso of flyleaf. 

Title page of Der Ewige Jude (The Wandering Jew), Insel Verlag, 1923. 2nd ed.

Woodcut by Masereel.

Woodcut by Masereel.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Salmon

Neighbor, "the fish monger's wife," continues to provide salmon skins, and never one to look a gift fish in the mouth, I graciously accept. As a bonus, she's gotten very good at skinning – less work for me." So, ...

Into the dish detergent it goes. Remember, always cold water with
unscented detergent.



Soaking up the Easter Egg dye. Only reasons I used this was that
it was in the house and free. Dyes are beet/radish based, and required
added water and a bit of vinegar. No idea about long-term effect of either.

The skin was soaked in the dye overnight and really seemed to soak it in.
But, whoever scaled the fish, not the "fish monger's wife," did a hack job
on the half nearest to the head.

A mostly nice day, so I used the power of the sun to dry.
Push pins go into coroplast, the kind used for yard signs like our solar panels.
These are FREE, ubiquitous, and also great for practicing endbands.

Woah! Where did the striping come from? Is this a rare tiger salmon (Behavior
similar to tiger musky). Whatever it is, I like it.

Here it is backlit.

The "cause" of the striping, or at least a clue. The wet skin had stuck to the cheap
paper I layed it on to dry. Interesting!

Just got a text and neighbor will be dropping off another skin in the next day or so. Yippee!

Part of the reason I tried the Easter egg dye was that I was inspired by Amber Sandy, Anishinaabe and indigenous science advocate who has a terrific Instagram feed in which she describes how she tans skins of all kinds, also teaching at Reyerson University. A great resource! The dye was inspired by her mention of using fabric dye (Rit or Dylon). She also mentioned a great source for fish skins - sushi restaurants! Will definitely have to ask my favorite place, fingers crossed it survives this COVID19 world. Toronto area binders check it out, and perhaps catch a hands-on workshop / invite her to teach.


To learn more about making parchment from fish, see:
"Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding
Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fritz Otto Thinks About Portfolios

While looking at all the Warwick Press books, Fritz Otto noticed this small and elegant (right-sized) portfolio with flaps protecting one of them in the Once Upon a Time series (at right).

Most of the Warwick Press collection.

What interested him in particular is proportionate and elegant the flaps were. Here was only really familiar with ones made of binders board that required multiple pieces and were covered in several steps. They also never seemed to fit the item that well, especially smaller/thinner ones. This is a great solution. Can't remember where I learned it, might have been from Bill Minter in Chicago.

Here's a link to the handout I created for PRT552, Book Arts, that I taught at Syracuse University in 2007.

Opening the portfolio. The flaps are made of book cloth and paper that
have been glued together and when dry, cut to size and folded to fit.

Opening the portfolio and removing Once Upon a Time, vol 4.

He really likes the way the flaps look and work.

Hmmmm...

Definitely like it...

Thank you for showing me. Instructions for making these are where...?
Ah-ha, the handout is here.