Saturday, April 8, 2017

Parchment from Salmon - Lachs Pergament

By now, everyone show know that I have a certain infatuation for working with fish leather. Part of the reason may be that it is so different and uncommon. A bigger reason may well be the connection to Ernst Collin and my project around his writings... I first wrote about the uses of fish in binding back in early 2014 - Something Fishy - Fish Leather for Binding - with subsequent posts showing my uses of the skins. Recently while looking through all my issues of Der Buchbinderlehrling (1927-43) I found a short article about "Fips" and the eel skin in the volume for 1937. I've worked with eel leather (Very thing, but strong. Great for millimeter bindings), but this was the first article that described making parchment from a fish skin. The earlier articles were scant on the tanning/drying details. In his third year, "Fips" wanted to do something special for the binding on the Buchbinderlehrling he was going to enter into the annual bookbinding competition. So, he went next door to the fish monger and asked for a really big and fat eel, but without the meat, guts, bones... After some discussion, he got what he needed, scrubbed it clean in the courtyard of the shop (to the disgust of all) and tacked it to a board to "let the sun do the rest." It was that simple.

Inzwischen sollten alle wissen, daß ich so eine verspinnerte Vorliebe für die Verwendung von Fischleder... an Einbänden habe. Ein Grund mag sein, daß es so anders ist und von fast niemanden mehr verwendet wird. Der größere Grund mag die Verbindung zu Ernst Collin sein der bekanntlich einige Aufsätze über Fischleder in der Buchbinderei geschrieben hat. Ich habe über diese zuerst 2014 in dem Aufsatz Something Fishy - Fish Leather for Binding geschrieben mit weiteren Aufsätzen wo ich meine Anwendungen beschrieben habe. Neulich fand ich beim Durchblättern meiner Buchbinderlehrling Jahrgängen (1927-43) einen kurzen Aufsatz über "Fips" und die Aalhaut. Ich habe schon einig Male Aalhaut verwendet (sehr dünn, aber stark), ideal für Edelpappbände, aber dieser war der erste Aufsatz in dem beschrieben wurde wie aus Fischhaut Pergament gemacht wurde. In den meisten Aufsätzen die ich bis jetzt gesehen habe ging es eher ums Gerben, aber in allen Fällen mit wenigen Details. Als Lehrling im dritten Jahr wollte "Fips" sich etwas besonderes für seinen Einband vom Buchbinderlehrling für den jährlichen Lehrlingswettbewerb ausdenken. Aus verschiedenen Gründen kam er zur Aalhaut. Also, ab zum benachbarten Fischhändler. Ein ganz dicker sollte es sein, aber ohne Fleisch, Gräten, und Innereien... Die hat er von dem verdutztem Fischweib sogar kostenlos bekommen. Also zurück in den Betrieb um die Haut zu reinigen (zum Eckel aller) und aufzuspannen. So einfach war das.

"Fips" setting out his eel skin to dry in the sun.
"Fips" beim Aufspannen seiner Aalhäuten.

Judging by the picture in the article (above), perhaps the eels fattened themselves after the Battle of Jutland.

Dem Bild oben nach wurde sein Aal vielleicht von der Skagerrakschlacht so fett.

Friend and colleague Monica Langwe in Sweden sent me these pictures of fish parchment she had, so I now had a sense of what I was aiming towards. Nice to see the unique textures I was used to from working with fish leather in the parchment, too.

Meine Freundin und Kollegin Monica Langwe in Schweden schickte mir diese Bilder von Ihrer Fischpergmenthaut. Jetzt hatte ich eine Ahnung wie das Ganze aussehen sollte. Schön auch zu sehen, daß die eigenartige Oberflächenstruktur wie beim Leder erhalten ist.

Fish parchment detail | Fischpergament Detailansicht
View of overall skin | Gesamt Ansicht des Pergaments
So..., the other day my wife was pulling into a parking lot with our local seafood trucked parked in it. Among the mussels, clams, and scallops was a modest Atlantic salmon fillet with skin on. She knew about my crazy projects and wanted to provoke me into action. So, after eating clams and mussels, I got to work skinning the fish.

Also, vor einigen Tagen wurde das Auto meiner Frau in einen Parkplatz mit dem Laster vom Seefruchthändler versteuert... Unter den Muscheln und Jakobsmuscheln war auch eine bescheidene Seite atlantischen Lachs mit der Haut dran. Sie wusste von meinen verspinnerten Projekten und wollte mich sticheln... Also Muscheln gegessen, und dann ran die Arbeit den Lachs zu enthäuten...

Pulling the skin off.
Beim Enthäuten.

Almost done – I rewarded my helper with scraps of sashimi
Fast fertig –Meinen Helfer habe ich mit Sashimiresten gefüttert.

The skin being cleaned after removal.
Nach der Enthäutung fing die Reinigung an.

The skin was first washed and rinsed in very mild (useless) dish detergent
and water to remove oils and the scales that remained...
Die Haut wurde zuerst in sehr milder Geschirrspülseife und wasser gewaschen
zwecks entfettung und den Rest der Schuppen los zu bekommen.

Soaking for 2 days in kaolin clay to degrease further and aid in smell removal.
Die Haut wurde als nächstes für zwei Tage in einer Kaolin/Wasser Mischung gelegen
zwecks Entfettung und Geruchentfernung.

The skin stretched out to dry in the sun under tension, just like "Fips'" skin.
The Haut unter Spannung in die Sonne zwecks trocknung gelegt,
so wie "Fips" es auch gemacht hat.
In for the night, nice and taut. Will it pass the dog test, will Loki lick it?
Rein für die Nacht. Wird es das Schnüffeltest bestehen, wird Loki es lecken?

This morning I found several greasy spots that I cleaned, and then out in the sun it went again.

Heute Morgen einige fettige Stellen gefunden die ich gereinigt habe, dann wieder raus in die Sonne.

The finished parchment | Das fertige Pergament




Saturday, April 1, 2017

Stolpersteine - Stumbling Stones

Three years ago today Stolpersteine were placed in Berlin for Ernst Collin and his wife Else. (Deutsch hier).

The Stolpersteine for Else and Ernst Collin in 2015.

Yesterday, the University of Kentucky held the UK Historic Preservation Symposium to Address Conflict, Violence and Preservation.
“The event will explore the modern place of artifacts of the past that reflect a legacy of racial, religious, cultural or class-oriented conflict, and will ask whether we can learn the lessons these places offer if they are not present in the landscape,” said Doug Appler, assistant professor of historic preservation in the College of Design.
Listen to Anne Thomas, coordinator of the Stolpersteine project that honors Holocaust victims throughout Europe speak here.

More about Günter Demnig's Stolpersteine project on their site here.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bookbinding as Chick Lit

Bärbels fröhliche Lehrzeit (Bärbel's Happy Apprenticeship) by Felix Riemkasten written in 1953 is a charming piece of teen lit. for women.

After the death of her father, Bärbel, at age 14, needs to leave school to take up an apprenticeship rather than going on to university like her eldest brother (She was a straight A student). She loves books, bookbinding isn't too strenuous (says her mother), ... What could go wrong? Nothing actually, mostly, and after finding an apprenticeship her first task is cleaning the store room (very familiar to me). Then there are challenges in dealing with the Altgeselle (Journeyman who never moved on to become a master), being the only woman, ... However, she's an ambitious over-achiever, pushes herself to learn new things, wants to create fine bindings and open new markets... A fun read that is remarkably accurate in its portrayal of many of the realities of apprenticeship, its descriptions of tools and equipment, and is up-beat, cheerful, and even empowering.

Bärbel pointing out some of her bindings in a book store window.

Although Germany had been relatively "progressive" about women as apprentices..., Bärbel was the first woman to apprentice with Buchbindermeister Schwannecke. All apprentices were referred to as "Junge" (boy), and Bärbel was also referred to as this... Bärbel's gender was also something that led to regular disputes with the Altgeselle, a journeyman who never progressed beyond that stage and was largely responsible for the day-to-day work and apprentices.

Bärbel heaving a sewing frame loaded with books through the bindery... Why? To demonstrate on her first day that she could carry her weight. Would be easier and safer to carry if held lower...

As woman, Bärbel was naturally weaker, something of a liability in a trade that required great stamina working while standing and carrying heavy loads... Hence, carrying the loaded sewing frame on her first day... Of course, she first had to identify the sewing frame never having seen one...The number and size (as well as dangerous) of the equipment and tools also intimidated her.

Among the adjustments was also that learning a trade as an apprentice was not a warm and fuzzy environment filled with mutual respect... Praise was scant, even when the work was well done, and apprentices (and journeymen) were chastised in the presence of others.

As part of her apprenticeship, Bärbel also had to go to trade school - the great equalizer where apprentices learned those things they might not learn in the shop... This was an experience she enjoyed, in large part because it was not the "bunker" her shop was.

Bärbel also learned about the value of acquiring the best tools and equipment very early on, and invested heavily in herself, often at the expense of a nice new dress... Fortunately, she was also able to borrow some equipment like hand presses or sewing frame so that she could practice at home...

Wrapped up in her ongoing conflict with the Journeyman was also the realization that it was very important to set personal goals for oneself, and that not to do so was to hold oneself back. For her, this meant going beyond mastering just the day-to-day skills, but taking it to the next level.

The book also did a good job of describing the types of jobs that came in, from repairing textbooks, to binding ledgers for businesses, to journals for libraries, ... This was the kind of work that sustained small trade binderies, and subsidized the more demanding work. It was also the kind of work that "allowed" apprentices to develop chops via rote memorization (of mind and hands), not her favorite. Via a conservation with another apprentice, she learns about his motivation for stealing, with his eyes, picking up tricks and new techniques. Bärbel is his favorite for this as she does the most beautiful work.

In terms of techniques, one of the best descriptions is for when Bärbel learns about decorated papers, and how to make and apply these. For her, this is also when she realizes even more what the design possibilities can be, and how to set her work apart. In some respects it felt the Bibliophile listening to the Master in Ernst Collin's Pressbengel (Bone Folder).

In the end, Bärbel passed her Gesellenprüfung ending her apprenticeship, but she stayed on at the bindery. First though, time to forget about the bindery and go dancing...

Bärbel gets to go dancing but is encouraged to wear gloves because of calluses...

Newly minted as a journeyman binder, Bärbel seeks out venues for showing her work, and perhaps earning some extra income. A local bookstore is more than happy to display her work in their shop window, also indicating that customers can contact her via the store. Ironically, she has very little success in attracting work. She does gain a patron of sorts in her brother who was at university and is now doing well, binding books for him (and his friends...). This eventually catches the attention of the (now other) journeyman who rats her out to the Meister. Without her Meister and the license to run her own shop she cannot legally do this kind of work on the side. However, after reprimanding her more for using shop resources without permission and compensation, he senses opportunities for his business and adds Kunstbuchinderei to his name. This gives him more prestige, and with Bärbel's skills that he acknowledges are more refined than his, a broader pallet of services. The other Journeyman gets reproached for being a busy-body, and further when learning that she is earning more than him, and as a girl no less, plans for further revenge. This back fires, or as is said in German "geht in die Hose" (went to his pants), literally. Bärbel, meanwhile, continues to be allowed to borrow equipment, and is quite happy with the situation.

The cranky Journeyman's pants are glued to the stool as a prank, and torn out. The other apprentice got sent to his apartment to grab a new pair...

The frontispiece: That's a heavy load that she's carrying on her shoulder. She's carrying a book in a finishing press through town, just like on the other occasions when she borrows equipment from the shop to keep working on her own books at home...

Finally getting a binding job via the book store, she gets to know a Frau Director Feld, a woman who is very successful and independent in her life. This Frau Feld becomes her patron in the classic sense, giving her commissions, discussing bookbinding with the interest of Collin's Bibliophile, but even more. Asking her to leave her portfolio of designs, materials, and decorated papers, she shows these to like-minded friends, but also arranges a tea in her home where Bärbel gets to meet these friends and give her pitch. While very surprised by this scenario, she is very prepared, poised, and confident.

Bärbel confidently and enthusiastically at work.

One of the guests mentions an upcoming competition for a new guest book for the city (every village, town, city, ... had one). Open to all, Bärbel enters a design finely executed on a sample binding. She is heart-broken to learn that she did not win having been beaten by established artists, and is told by Frau Feld that the gentleman who encouraged her to enter was doing so largely in jest – she was still very young and inexperienced, and the winners were established and highly respected artists. She did, however, come in fourth and her work was exhibited with the winners, a consolation. Her Meister was appropriately proud, and wanted her to remain with him to do the higher end work that she had been bringing to the bindery – who would do it if she left... Frau Feld had other ideas however and had been busy networking to find Bärbel a position in a large trade bindery where she would work in the extra binding department. Having worked in the same bindery for her apprenticeship and journeyman years, she had very limited perspectives and alternative experiences. Moving on would be very important for her professional development, something the Meister also realized.

The [binding] world was hers for the taking, and with her drive, passion, and the help of patrons and mentors she would succeed.

Bärbel dedicating a guest book she bound to her patron.

So, from this 54 yr curmudgeon, a fun read loaded with accurate descriptions of the trade and apprenticeship in general, positive and encouraging, and with the complications of teen love and its associated drama. Based on my personal experiences as an apprentice in Germany during the 1980s, I found the portrayal of the Meister and his relationships with the others fair and largely accurate - apprenticeship is not summer camp, management style ranging from brusque to encouraging, what we would expect in the traditional trades. For someone like Bärbel who was academically strong and would have gone on to university, the contrast would have been stark and revealed crass differences in class and educational background, as well. Throughout though, Bärbel and the Meister handled themselves and each other well, and the real antagonisms were expressed through the journeyman who never showed any drive or enthusiasm, but was jealous of those who did. Ultimately his behaviour had him strongly reprimanded – shape up or ship out – and he and Bärbel came to an understanding. Finally, there was Frau Feld, a successful and cultured woman whose strong support (and some enabling) opened many doors for Bärbel, doors that she walked through with confidence to close the deals that Frau Feld had started.

Thinking that this book might have been reviewed, or at least mentioned, in Das Falzbein, THE journal for bookbinding apprentices I leafed through my complete run page-by-page starting in 1952. Alas, nothing, disappointing because I think the book could have encouraged readers to at least consider our craft. I did, however, find numerous images of female apprentices and art school students who could have been models for Bärbel.

So anything like this appear in English or another language?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Bookbinding and Ideology

On the Print blog (3/10/17), Steven Heller wrote a piece titled "Normalized Letterheads":
By 1936 the Nazis were firmly in place in all aspects of government, society and culture. Gleichschaltung was the term for standardizing or normalizing the Nazi aberration. It meant that every aspect of the Third Reich followed the dictates of the ideological wing of the state and party. These innocent-looking letterheads, void of political references, were examples of that Gleichschaltung imposed on the design and printing industries.
This Gleichschaltung was applied uniformly across all media, trades, social organizations, ..., aligning and subordinating all to the dictates of the state in all regards. Indoctrination started in the schools, youth organizations, and trade schools that all apprentices attended. Der Buchbinderlehrling (The Bookbinding Apprentice) was the journal for apprentices with 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. During its run from 1927-1943 one is struck by how insidiously this Gleichschaltung progressed in the years after 1933, with the apprentices thoroughly indoctrinated so that there was no longer any difference between the trade and ideology. In the same vein the teachers at the trade schools/art academies were  required to be party members, especially if civil servants, joining either out of conviction or expedience in some sort of Faustian bargain...

Typography for book titles from Der Buchbinderlehrling, Vol. 9, Nr. 7, 1935.

While some of title designs may seem "innocent looking," this ideological aesthetic was applied not only to bindings, but also presentation materials, desk accessories, just about everything bookbinders made forcefully, with many examples in the trade literature of the time. Prominent among these was Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Under the pseudonym “Nicolli,” Ernst Collin wrote in Der Buchbinderlehrling what can best be described as a tragic review of 1933’s national bookbinding competition on Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He wrote that in binding this book the German bookbinding trade could demonstrate its commitment to Hitler and to taking on the challenges and demands that lay ahead. The trades, publishing, social organizations, and just about every other aspect of life were quickly brought to reflect the party line under “Gleichschaltung.” As a “servant” of the arts and crafts, bookbinding was given a special standing, and binding Mein Kampf in a dignified and appropriate manner was a way to demonstrate this standing. To demonstrate the new collective mindset, the names of none of the participants or winners were mentioned. Stating that this was not the place to describe individual bindings, he went on to write that given the nature and importance of the book it was clear that many of the bindings would include the black, white, and red of Imperial Germany and the Third Reich, with the swastika a key element. However, Ernst noted also that including these elements did not make for good design that would inspire and demonstrate respect. He concluded that the book could not become a playground for overwrought designs and gimmicks, challenging binders to think about and prepare themselves for increasing amounts of this kind of work. ([Nicolli]. “Ein Zeitgemäßer Wettbewerb.” Der Buchbinderlehrling, Vol. 7, Nr. 12, 1933. (167-168))

While no images from the 1933 bookbinding competition were found in Der Buchbinderlehrling, below two, one by an Martin Lehmann, an apprentice/student of Franz Weiße, and one by a master and one of the leading teachers of the day (Professors at art academies and trade schools), Hugo Wagner.

Martin Lehmann's apprentice/student binding on Mein Kampf.
From Der Buchbinderlehrling. Vol. 10, Nr. 6, 1937.
In the article the image accompanied he described his motivations and design choices a "flag red" leather for the  binding, white type, and black for the eagle, all based on the Nazi flag. About the eagle he wrote that it was based on the Luftwaffe insignia because it was more "dainty," yet aggressive and full of life, ready to take up the fight against all that is false...

Martin Lehmann with Franz Weiße
From Der Buchbinderlehrling. Vol. 11, Nr.11, 1938.

Binding by Hugo F. Wagner, Breslau, on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as a teacher.
From Der Buchbinderlehrling. Vol. 10, Nr. 12, 1937.

Bindings by Hugo Wagner from Vom Buchbinderlehrling zum Buchbindemeister (1941)

Otto Dorfner, Weimar, was another one of the leading teachers during this time, and will be featured in due time, also because he remained in the Soviet occupation zone (the DDR) after the war and continued working. One of Germany's greatest design binders, he studied under Paul Kersten, founded his school in Weimar, taught at the Bauhaus, and elsewhere, helped found the Meister der Einbandkunst... Below another binding on Mein Kampf by one of his students, Willi Fischer.

Binding by Dorfner student Willi Fischer on Mein Kampf.
From the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, Nr. 27, 1936.

Another teacher was Heinrich Lüers, Magdeburg, best known for Das Fachwissen des Buchbinders that appeared in several editions, including one postwar with a new introduction by his Gustav Moessner. It is very interesting to compare the editions, especially as the politically charged ones have been scrubbed out. Lüers also edited Vom Buchbinderlehrling zum Buchbindemeister (1941) for the Reichsinnungsverband des Buchbinderhandwerks (the national bookbinding guild), a pamphlet produced by the BDBI describing the trade and requirements designed to attract new apprentices and others. Like Lüer's book, this too was republished after the war in a sanitized edition. After all, why waste an otherwise significant text, and Das Fachwissen is one of the best of its genre and incredibly comprehensive.

Lüers concluded his pamphlet by stating that during the (still rather young) war, bookbinding had proven itself to a secure trade, and able to withstand any crisis and serve the German people. He ended with a quote by Hitler praising the German trades...

Below, Franz Weiße (Wiemeler's teacher), Erhard Klette, Otto Dorfner, and Hugo Wagner jurying the 1938 apprentice competition. Dorfner and Wagner appear to be wearing party insignia on cravat and lapel, and Klette was an influential publisher in the field, including the Archiv für Buchbinderei and the Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst.

Franz Weiße, Erhard Klette, Otto Dorfner, and Hugo Wagner jurying the 1938 apprentice competition.
From Der Buchbinderlehrling, Vol. 12, Nr. 5,1938.

See also this post about Frieda Thiersch's similar work during this period, "Hitler's Bookbinder." Her biography, Frieda Thiersch und ihre Handbuchbinderei (1968), by Fritz Krinitz mentions little and illustrates even less of her work from this period.

So, imagine if this scenario were to return... No, let's not go there.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Practicing and Teaching Endbands

For practicing and teaching endbands, I first started out with little sewn textblocks, then chopped up telephone books (remember those) or directories, then thought to myself "why not wrap a core in gauze/super and sandwich between two boards..." That worked great, but just preparing the things was a pain. Eventually discovered coroplast making things perfectly easy.

Donia's and my poster from the Guild of Book Workers' 2003
Standards of Excellence conference in Denver, CO.

For a book artist's take on this, and really what inspired me to keep them as a strip on the card, see this example by Susan Joy Share from the Guild of Book Workers' 100th anniversary exhibition. This was part of a series and I am glad to call one my own.

The images below were largely drawn from a poster I did with Donia Conn for the Guild of Book Workers' Standards conference. Our bibliography for endbands is at My favorite sources are for great diagrams:
  • Gast, Monica,  A History of Endbands Based on a Study by Karl Jäckel.  The New Bookbinder.  Vol. 3, pp. 42-58, 1983.
  • Guiffrida, Barbara, Book Conservation Workshop Manual Part Three: Endbands.  The New Bookbinder.  Vol. 2, pp. 29-39, 1982.
  • Jäckel, Karl, Alte Techniken des Buchbinderhandwerks in der modernen Schriftgutrestaurierung, 2: Das Kapital. [The Endband.] Bibliotheksforum Bayern. Vol. 3, pp. 207-219, 1975. 

Rodrigo Ortega (?) also has a very nicely presented gallery at

Because it doesn't always have to be hand-sewn... Hand-made stuck on endbands can look great, especially on smaller/thinner books. Below an assortment all wrapped around 18/3 linen thread, a nice thickness. Materials include leather, cloth, and decorated papers...

Stuck-on endbands

For those teaching endband workshops or needing something bigger to conceptualize the process, I developed the demonstrator below with my brother who's a woodworker. Big dowl is 1" dia... Using thinner "climbers" rope in two colors. The idea came from workshop attendee who didn't want to get to close, he liked being in the back row, but still wanted to see. Normally not an enabler in those circumstances, but the idea was brilliant. Brother made three, I kept one, one for Donia, and I sent one to the one whose idea it was...

Getting teaching tool set up.

Core dropped on teaching tool.

Finished 2-core endband.

Endview of teaching tool.

For a wooden boards binding of an Icelandic saga, hand copied by the client. Textblock had originally been oversewn and library-bound. He decided he wanted something nicer... Made the clasps, too. The endband I first learned at the Centro del bel Libro in Ascona, CH after diagrams by Karl Jäckel.

Primary endband.

Braided leather added after covering.

The clasps I made.

Finished book in box.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mehr W. Collin Einbände - More W. Collin Bindings

[English below]

Seit ich angefangen habe, den Spuren von Ernst und W. Collin nachzugehen und das Gefundene online zu teilen, erhalte und schätze ich Emails von Sammlern, Antiquaren und Bibliothekaren.  Sie bieten mir Anregungen, Hinweise, Bilder von Einbänden und üben Kritik.

Der Einband unten Die wahre Geschichte des Clavigo (Hamburg, 1774) wurde von W. Collin gebunden. Der Inhaber, Günter Trauzettel, ein Antiquar, schickte mir die Bilder mit der Frage, ob ich bei der Datierung helfen könnte. Der Pergamenteinband über Holzdeckel mit Spiegel und Vorsatz aus Seide ist vergoldet. Zudem hat der Einband einen Kopfgoldschnitt, ist zweiseitig unbeschnitten und dazu "schief eingebunden."

Es ist schwierig den Einband zu datieren. W. Collin wurde 1845 in Berlin etabliert. Der Einband selbst sieht anhand der eher weicheren/runden (nicht eckig) Einschlägen und Falz älter aus. Holzdeckel an einem Pergamenteinband aus dem späten 19./20. Jahrhundert sind eher ungewöhnlich, doch läßt sich das nicht leicht nachweisen - der Antiquar vermutet Holz wegen des Geräusches beim "Klopfen." Der Stempel lautet nicht "Hofbuchbinder",  nur W.Collin Berlin. Der gleiche Stempel befindet sich auch in der Bernsteinhexe und ist in meinem Einband von Les Poèmes Dorés (1920) auf Seite 23 von Die Collins zu finden, sowie unten bei W. Collin Mappe und Etikette.

Die wahre Geschichte des Clavigo (Hamburg, 1774)

Die wahre Geschichte des Clavigo (Hamburg, 1774)
Seidener Spiegel | Silk doublure

Die wahre Geschichte des Clavigo (Hamburg, 1774)
W. Collin Stempel | W. Collin stamp

 Ein Beispiel für einen W. Collin Einband in einer Bibliothekssammlung ist Die Geschichte der Berliner Buchbinder-Innung während zweier Jahrhunderte, 1882, aus den Beständen der Berliner Staatsbibliothek. W. Collin war Innungsmitglied, als die Berliner eine Zwangsinnung war.

Am anderen Ende des Spektrums sind die Einbanddecken, die W. Collin für Verlage herstellte. Verlagsdecken beschrieb ich in einem früheren Beitrag, und es überraschte mich, einen Hinweis für diese in der Kunstzeitschrift Pan von 1898 zu finden. Der Hinweis stammt aus Skizzen und Buchschmuck aus der Kunstzeitschrift Pan, 1898, und ist auf Seite 31 der PDF

Hinweis zu W. Collin Einbanddecken
Notice about W. Collin book covers

Unten der erwähnte Entwurf von Ludwig von Hofmann aus Skizzen und Buchschmuck aus der Kunstzeitschrift Pan, sowie die Decke an Pan aus den digitalen Sammlungen der Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg.

Pan: Entwurf von Hofmann
Pan: Design by Hoffman

Pan: Einbanddecke
Pan: Cover

W. Collin erhielt auch Aufträge für die Bibliothek von Harry Graf Kessler. Diese wurden nach Entwürfen von Henry van de Velde ausgeführt etwa um 1907, vor der Etablierung der Buchbindewerkstatt der Kunstgewerbeschule in Weimar. Die Einbände zählen jetzt zu den Beständen der Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek (HAAB) in Weimar, die 61 Titel im Katalog aufführt. Viele wurden in Leder oder Pergament mit bedruckten Papier/Leinwand bezogenen Deckeln eingebunden. Andere sind in ganz Leinwand oder englischem Buckram gebunden. (Insgesammt hat die HAAB  über 90 Einbände von W. Collin.)

So Sellinat und Simon-Ritz über die Einbaende von W. Collin in "Henry van de Velde als Buch- und Bibliotheksgestalter in Weimar," Imprimatur: ein Jahrbuch für Bücherfreunde. N.F. 23. 2013. München: Ges. der Bibliophilen. (S. 305-322):
"Die Qualität der Verlagsausgaben kann mit den auf Dauer und Solidität angelegten Einbänden nicht in jedem Fall wetteifern. So schützen zwölf Pergamenteinbände mit stabilen Deckeln eine Sammlung einzelner Schopenhauer-Titel aus Reclams Universal-Bibliothek um 1900. Eine tatsächliche Arbeits- und Reisebibliothek von »Taschenbüchern « nach dem Verständnis des 19. Jahrhunderts!"
Van de Velde entwarf auch Kesslers Wohnung und Bibliothek, welche beim Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte - BildarchivFoto Marburg betrachtet werden können.

Der Aufsatz ist auch sonst sehr interessant und wertvoll, was Buchgestaltung und Buchbinderei während dieser Zeit betrifft, besonders, wo es um Gebrauchseinbände geht. Leider ist er nicht online verfügbar, deshalb mein Dank an Herrn Sellinat, ihn mit mir zu teilen.


One of the best things that has happened since I began sharing my work around Ernst Collin and W. Collin is that I have received increasing numbers of emails from collectors, antiquarians, and librarians sharing their bindings and information.

The binding below on Die wahre Geschichte des Clavigo (Hamburg, 1774) that was bound by W. Collin. Günter Trauzettel, an Antiquarian in Germany, shared the pictures asking whether I had any information that might help date it. The full vellum binding [over wooden boards] is gold tooled, is gilt on the top edge with the fore- and tail-edges uncut, and silk doublures and flyleaves. In addition, he noticed that the book was bound "crookedly." Looking at the image of the doublure one can also notice a "lump" in the silk hinge where it goes under the doublures at top and bottom.

Dating the book is difficult. W. Collin was established 1845 in Berlin. The binding itself looks older based on the less sharply define joints, corners, ... Wooden boards on a vellum binding of this time would be very unusual, but the dealer feels certain that they are wood based on a "knock test" - it sounds like wood. Unfortunately, there is no damage... that would allow a peek into the boards. The binder stamp does not mention "Hofbuchbinder..," just "W.Collin Berlin." The same stamp was also found on the Bernsteinhexe and my binding of Les Poèmes Dorés (1920) on page 21 of The Collins and at bottom of W. Collin Mappe und Etikette.

[Images 1-3]

An example of a W. Collin binding in a library collection is Die Geschichte der Berliner Buchbinder-Innung während zweier Jahrhunderte (The History of the Bookbinding Guild Berlin Over Two Centuries), 1882, comes from the Berlin State Library. W. Collin were on-again off-again members of the Guild, with membership in the Guild not always required (Zwangsinnung).

On the other end of the bookbinding spectrum, W. Collin also provided covers for periodicals. I described these in an earlier post, and was surprised to find mention of W. Collin providing these, in this case for the journal Pan. The mention was found in Skizzen und buchschmuck aus der kunstzeitschrift Pan, 1898, on page 31 of the PDF.

[Image 4]  

Below the cover design by Ludwig von Hofmann from Skizzen und buchschmuck aus der kunstzeitschrift Pan, with the actual cover from the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg's digital collections.

[Image 5-6]

W. Collin was also responsible for binding many volumes designed by Henry van de Velde for the Library of Harry Graf Kessler. These were bound around 1907, before the establishment of the bookbinding workshop at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Weimar, 1907. They are now in the collection of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek (HAAB) in Weimar with 61 titles recorded. The bindings for many of these are in leather or vellum with printed paper or linen sides. Others are bound in linen or English buckram. These "simpler" W. Collin bindings are described by Sellinat and Simon-Ritz as being closer to publishers bindings in quality, and indeed the textblocks in many cases are from Reclam's Universal Bibliothek and similar.

Van de Velde also designed Kessler's apartment and library. Images can be seen in the Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte - BildarchivFoto Marburg.From Frank Sellinat und Frank Simon-Ritz. "Henry van de Velde als Buch- und Bibliotheksgestalter in Weimar," Imprimatur: ein Jahrbuch für Bücherfreunde. N.F. 23. 2013. München: Ges. der Bibliophilen. (S. 305-322). The illustrated article also highly interesting and valuable for its treatment of book design and binding, especially for books meant to be used. The article is not available online, and I am thankful to Mr. Sellinat for sharing it with me.

Overall, the HAAB holds over 90 volumes bound by W. Collin.