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2010-06, 365, 366, Art, Brian Taylor, German

Black letter and black patterns

MY FIRST OF TWO items is a German book purchased at the 2008 Uralla Book Fair, namely the first volume of Emil Rosenow‘s Wider die Pfaffenherrschaft. Kulturbilder aus den Religioskämpfen des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Buchhandlung Vorwärts, n.d.). The title means ‗Against rule by priests: cultural images from the religious struggles of the 16th and 17th centuries‘, where the word Pfaffe is a derogatory word for ‗priest‘. The volume is 200 x 280 mm, [viii] + 391 [392] pp., bound in half calf with embossed motifs on the spine and the other parts of the calf binding and with gold-stamped, at the top of the spine, the title and, at the bottom, the name of the publishing house. It shows general signs of wear and possibly water-staining on the covers, though this could be a faded intentional mottling. The typeface is the blackletter type known in German as Fraktur.

The title page claims the book contains “240 illustrations and documents from the period and a coloured insert” and, indeed, there are reproductions of woodcuts from the Reformation period (and a few others) right through the book. The coloured insert (Beilage) is bound in between the sheet containing the table of contents and the first page of text, and is a two-page reproduction of a coloured woodcut titled Jupiter by Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550) with Rosenow‘s caption Der Papst als Herr der Welt (‘The pope as lord/master of the world’). Despite its worn condition, it is still a quite handsome volume.

Though this book is undated, some previous owner has pencilled the date “1923” on the title page. However, research in a German encyclopaedia¹ and Wikipedia shows that the book was in fact published in 1904. The name of the publisher means ‘Forwards Bookshop’ and it was the publisher of the newspaper Vorwärts (‘Forwards’) of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or SPD). The author, the keen social democrat Emil Rosenow, was born in Cologne in 1871 and died in Berlin on 7 February 1904, so may not have seen his book appear in print, as was certainly the case with others of his more important works that were published in subsequent years. The second volume, which I do not have, appeared posthumously in 1905 (Wikipedia: 1906) thanks to the efforts of the Austrian writer Karl Hans Strobl (Wikipedia: Hans Strobel).

The second item I showed was a handmade book with manuscript title Some hand tool patterns for the decoration of leather bindings and a colophon in black manuscript at the back saying: “Twenty copies of this book have been made. This is number 3 and is for [then in maroon] Brian Taylor”. In much smaller manuscript is at the bottom of the second last free end paper (the last white end paper): “Designed and made by Patrick Storrs Fox March 2008”. This is virtually all the text in this whole booklet. The little volume, 110 x 153 mm, is bound in maroon morocco with one dark brown opening (attached to the cover and free end paper respectively) and two white free end papers, front and back in each case; it contains fourteen b/w patterns, each on the right hand page with the fac-ing one blank, and between each pair of patterns a blank opening. Stuck to the spine is a perfectly trimmed piece of brown leather with embossed on it the title reduced to the one word “PATTERNS”. Especially attractive too is the fact that the booklet came in a fine little slipcase subtly decorated with plant motifs in blue, green, red and black.

A pattern from Patrick Storrs Fox’s “Some hand tool patterns for the decoration of leather bindings”

How did I come to be one of the relatively few beneficiaries of Mr Foxs generosity? As I have previously mentioned in Biblionews,² after my article “From the Little Island the Books of Leipzig to the King Penguins of London” appeared in the 346th (June 2005) Issue I was contacted by Patrick Fox with a request for a copy of the issue, which I duly sent. I soon learnt that he was a keen collector of both the Insel publishing house series of little books and of King Penguins and that this keenness was accompanied by a general interest in book design, especially cover and binding design. He has also been most generous in providing me with volumes from the two series that I did not previously possess. I had only been able to reciprocate by sending him issues of Biblionews that contain items of interest to him. And then out of the blue came this beautiful piece of workmanship. My response can again only be another copy of a relevant issue of Biblionews.


. Der Große Brockhaus, vol. 16, Roc-Schq, (Leipzig, 1933), p. 107.



355th-356th Double Issue for September-December 2007, pp. 174 f.



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