Saturday, May 22, 2021

Start-up Costs

Starting up is always an investment. If you're going to do good work, you really need a dedicated space that meets your needs. So, after my return from my apprenticeship in Germany and the School for Book Conservation in Ascona (read about my "path" starting here), my father and I built a bench in two parts with storage and other features. We got my set-up this going as quickly as I could to keep my bench skills up and earn some $$ while looking for a job as a conservator. VERY important to work with others at this early career stage for professional development and mentoring. Then, of course, I needed supplies, some equipment, ... My father, as was his habit, kept track and made sure I did as well. While the dollar amount is no longer available, I recently rediscovered this pie-chart he made to remind me. 

Pie (and other) charts, the bane of my existence. ­čÖä

Set-up was for bench and equipment like vacuum pump and home built suction box; travel for the MARC train from Baltimore to DC and Bookmakers, then owned by Gus Valetri. That was in a tiny office space in an old DC office building; subscriptions were Designer Bookbinders, Institute of Paper Conservation, IADA's Maltechnik-Restauro, Abbey Newsletter, Guild of Book Workers, ...; books, well you can never have enough of them, but I started small (and enjoyed the 40% discount from working at the campus bookshop part-time); photo documentation equipment; supplies included papers, board, leather, dyes/pigments, hand tools.

The benches as first set up in my childhood basement.

Here, the 2-part bench with flat files and storage on one side, light table / paring surface on the other half. I still use the benches and presses... The press on the bench served as the model for the Arnold Grummer Quiknip, a great press for those starting out that will give a lifetime of service. The flexibility to break the benches down in their component parts made it easy to modify (read bring them down to a more normal desk height) due to changes in mobility..., something I describe in Bookbinding and Adapting to Life Changes

When taken apart, the bench with both halves and drawers
could fit into the back of a late-1980s sub-compact.
Above my first car! Same color/style, too. It gave me 6 years of
very reliable service, despite its reputation.

I still keep track of expenses and income, but it would not be prudent to tally all that up, especially for the books... 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Deutsche Einbandkunst, 1921

Ernst Collin edited and published Deutsche Einbandkunst, the catalog for the Jakob Krau├če Bund's (J-K-B) exhibition that was held in the Wei├čer Saal of Berlin’s Schlo├čmuseum September-October 1921. The catalog featured essays by Ernst (2), Paul Kersten (2), G.A.E. Bogeng, and others. Ernst’s essays were “Wer ist ein B├╝cherfreund” (“Who is a Bibliophile”) and the uncredited “├ťber Bucheinb├Ąnde” (“About Bookbindings”) describing the various structures hand bookbinders applied and what viewers would encounter in the exhibit. Other essays provide context to the J-K-B of which Kersten was director and other aspects of the exhibit such as bindings by Jakob Krau├če drawn from various libraries. Displayed bindings are minimally described in the checklist that is divided into several parts: Deceased members Georg Collin (12), Eduard Ludwig (15), Fritz Nitsch (1) and active members including Otto Dorfer (24), Paul Kersten (42), Otto Pfaff (14), and Hugo Wagner (12). In total, there were several hundred bindings and other works. The catalog also contains forty pages of advertisements for antiquarians and booksellers, binderies, printers, and purveyors to the trade. Ernst wrote several articles about this exhibition in other publications for the book trades and general public.

The catalog was produced in two versions, a deluxe of twenty unbound copies on handmade wove rag (IXX), with the remaining copies (21-2,000) on a machine-made wove rag paper. My copy of the deluxe edition (Nr. XX) was bound in an unsigned ¼ leather binding with cloth sides and gilt top edge. 

Of interest is that the decorated wrappers for the regular edition were made by ten different decorated paper makers. Below some examples

The pastepaper example illustrated above from my collection (Nr. 1887)
was made by Xaver Wittmann, Abt. B.B.K., Konstanz a. R[hein]
who provided 200 pieces.

I was recently able to acquire two more copies of the catalog with different decorated papers for the wrappers.

Copy #1939, paper also made by Xaver Wittmann,
Abt. B.B.K., Konstanz a. B[odensee].

Advertisement for Xaver Wittman from the catalog.
They also sold "hand painted" book cloth, in addition to decorated
papers for covering and endpapers.

Copy # 375, paper made by Beyer-Preu├čer & Glasemann,
Niedernhausen im Taunus.

Advertisement for Beyer-Preu├čer & Glasemann from the catalog
"Quality decorated papers of all kinds for covering and endpapers
using our own proprietary techniques."

Colophon with all the papers and their makers.

Below, all advertisers in the catalog. In addition to some of the exhibitors, the advertisers included booksellers, publishers, hand- and large trade binderies, and suppliers of all sorts. Download from here.

Monday, April 5, 2021

UNESCO Recognizes Bookbinding as Cultural Heritage.

Bookbinding has been added to the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the German UNESCO Commission 2021. The declaration calls out the role the bookbinding trade has had in ennobling the printed word in all its aspects, as well as preserving that record. While the images below call attention to the art of printing books, without bookbinders there would be no books. Printing was added to the Inventory in 2018. The bookbinder is always the last in the chain of production, and often overlooked in colophons and elsewhere, even in fine press books. No more! Image below featuring Bauer's 500 Jahre Buchdruckerkunst, 1440 - 1940 (500 Years of Book Production), and Fritz Otto, from the Pirckheimer-Gesellschaft's blog. The Bauer tunnel book is now part of RIT's Cary Graphic Arts Collection.

From the Pirckheimer-Gesellschaft's blog

Fritz Otto feels it is past time to correct this oversight in print, and is pushing to create a tunnel book on the theme of bookbinding. Hmmm, we'll see what we can do.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Visit to a Hand Bindery in Trier - Buchbinderei Mohr

Was searching YouTube for some bindery videos from Germany and came across this one from the Buchbinderei Franz Mohr in Trier, Germany. The Buchbinderei was founded in 1864 (via, and was stop 1 on my apprenticeship interview tour in May 1985. The location was very convenient as I flew into Luxembourg from Baltimore... Trier has an incredibly rich history.

The Buchbinderei Mohr as I saw it in May 1985.

View in same direction from the video.

Device for fan gluing (Klebebindung, aka Lubecken)t hat starts at 2:08. It appears to be the same
as being used [by the Geselle?] in the foreground of the first image.

Here the video that shows the steps of case binding journals and periodicals for town, municipal, medical, law, ... Below the full video.

I did not end up apprenticing there, but it was the hand-bindery the other two I visited were compared to in terms of the type of work completed and overall atmosphere.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Fritz Eberhardt’s Finishing Tools and Technique

It was once again my pleasure to collaborate with Don Rash and his Boss Dog Press by translating essays from the German that highlight the work of one of that tradition's finest binders, a student of Ignatz Wiemeler. From the downloadable prospectus

The Boss Dog Press is pleased to announce the upcoming publication of Fritz Eberhardt’s Finishing Tools and Technique, the sixth book from the Press and the third volume in the series Eberhardtiana. The goal of this series is to preserve the writings and art of fine hand bookbinders Fritz Eberhardt (1917-1997) and his wife Trudi (1921 -2004). In addition to being two of the finest binders of the twentieth century, Fritz and Trudi were teachers, mentors and good friends to many practitioners of the book arts, and their work and lives deserve to be remembered and celebrated. It has been the honor of the Press to do this in a small way.

Finishing Tools follows 2004’s Rules for Bookbinders and 2014’s Three Lectures. It catalogs 94 unique finishing tools which Fritz fabricated for tooling in blind and gold on his design bindings. Each tool is represented by a description, measurements, and a scanned image of the tool’s impression. There will also be digital photographs of the tools, of the electric tooling station that Fritz used, and of a paper tooling pattern used on Fritz’s design binding of Gordon Craig’s Paris Diary. The catalog proper is preceded by two essays dealing with Fritz’s work, one by Professor Hans Halbey and one by Fritz himself. The essays were published together in the March 1990 issue of the German bibliophile journal Philobiblon. 

Millimeter binding (Edelpappband) covered in decorated paper
by the binder with tooling based on Eberhardt's unique tools,
leather trim at top and bottom, and title stamped in gold. 

Title page with photo of Eberhardt tooling a binding.

One of Eberhardt's bindings and the beginning of the essay where
he discusses his binding philosophy.

Photos of Eberhardt's tools with description and
printed impression of the design.

From the colophon:

This is the third volume of EBERHARDTIANA. It was compiled, designed and executed by Don Rash, with the ongoing support of Elaine Rash. Types used are digital versions of Herman Zapf's Aldus for the text and Michaelangelo for the titling. The book was composed in Adobe InDes1gn. Boxcar Press supplied the polymer plates for printing. The paper was made at the University of Iowa Center for the Book by Tim Barrett and student co-workers, and as printed damp on the BDP Washington handpress. Inks are Graphic Chemical Albion

Matte Black and Hanco Leaf Brown. The tool impressions in the catalog were done by scanning smoke proofs, converting them to printable images in Adobe Illustrator and printing them with the text. All photographic images are digitally printed onto 48 gram Asuka paper.

The edition consists of 80 copies, with 10 copies (I-X) unbound, and with 50 regular copies (1-50) and 20 hors commerce copies(A-T) bound in full decorated paper over boards with leather strips at head and tail.

To learn more about the Eberhardt's, read their oral history recorded by Valerie Metzler, in which they discuss their life, their training, their time in the United States, and much more. It can be found in Volume 37, Number 2, 2002 of the Guild of Book Workers' Journal. Very much worth reading.

Monday, March 15, 2021

500 Years of the Art of Printing

Just received this lovely tunnel book, 500 Jahre Buchdruckerkunst, 1440 - 1940, that was issued by the Bauersche Gie├čerei (Bauer Type Foundry) in Frankfurt. It was created by the illustrator Fritz Kredel. Kredel was helped out of Germany by Melbert Cary in 1938. RIT's Cary Graphic Arts Collection was endowed by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust as a memorial to Mr. Cary, together with funds to support the use and growth of the collection. As they don't seem to have a copy, it seems only fitting to gift it to them. 

For a while it seemed the little gem was lost. But no, the journey from the antiquarian dealer in Madgeburg to Syracuse took 3 months and the item dropped out of postal tracking systems after 2 months, only to reappear the day before it arrived. Who knows where it languished, Frankfurt airport, New York?!? 

Here Fritz Otto helps me set it up for these pictures by holding on to the far end.

Fritz Otto holding the far end...

Side view showing the panels.
The accordion folds are at the top and bottom.

Shall we peek inside?

Oh look, a print shop. Type casting at front, right; type setting at front left;
printing in the middle, note the sheets hanging above, so the ink can dry;
and in the way back inspecting the final product.

As this is a German print shop, the paper will in all likelihood be unsized at this stage. As described in Prediger's Der Buchbinder und Futteralmacher (1741), the binder will size and beat the paper with a specially shaped heavy hammer before binding. Jeff Peachey describes this process in detail on his blog.

Another Sprayed and Stenciled Paper

Recently acquired another volume of the Archiv f├╝r Buchbinderei (Vols. 21-22, 1921-22). Another article by Ernst Collin, and 2 brief mentions/reviews of his Pressbengel. More about the Schablonenspritzpapier technique here and here