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Re: [BKARTS] Re: bradel à plats rapportés - LONG

Yves (and everyone else),
I agree completely. Terminology is the biggest challenge in describing
techniques and style, especially in an international forum like this where
we have multiple binding traditions and languages. After digging into this
subject for the better part of my morning I find I need to agree with you
that what I describe at <http://www.philobiblon.com/casebd.htm> is not a
true Bradel, but often gets called that here in the US... I  usually think
of it as the German case binding.

There is a definition of Bradel in "Bookbinding and the Conservation of
Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology" at
<http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/don/dt/dt0459.html>. That describes the
Bradel binding as:

A type of binding having a hollow back, and not unlike a library binding,
except that it is considered to be temporary. The style was originated in
Germany by Alexis Pierre Bradel, also known as Bradel l'ainé, and also as
Bradel-Derome, son-in-law and successor to Nicholas-Denis Derôme. The
style was taken to France sometime between 1772 and 1809. Bradel bindings
generally have split boards into which are attached the extensions of the
spine lining cloth. The edges are uncut, sometimes with the head edge
being gilt. They generally have a leather or linen spine. In France the
style was known as "Cartonnage à la Bradel," or as "en gist." See also:

This morning I looked through my "hard-core" bookbinding manuals (primarily the German ones), manuals aimed at apprentices and the trade, and didn't find much to illuminate the Bradel binding. To be honest, I didn't even find the term "Bradel" used. My apprentice notes didn't help either.

What is described is the "gebrocherner Ruecken" which translates to "broken
spine" and is very similar to the Bradel. The other technique is the
Deckenband (case binding). The history of the "gebrochener Ruecken" is
originally described (simplified) as:

A textblock is sewn, rounded and backed to a 45 degree angle at the
shoulder. A spine piece which includes a spine stiffener and hinges is made
of one piece of thin cardboard (Aktendeckel, Schrenz, folder stock) which
has marked and creased on it the exact width of the spine and about 5-10mm
out from that on each side the place where the board is attached. The
creases are made at those points and this piece is fitted around the spine
and glued to a wastesheet on the textblock. The boards are then glued to
that, and the book covered. We many in our collection at  the Syracuse
University Library dating from the 18th/19th century. Over time this
technique was refined, mostly to make it more elegant.

This technique is described quite consistently in : Paul Adam, Der
Bucheinband, 1890; L. Brade/Paul Kersten, L. Brade's Illustriertes
Buchbinderbuch, 1921; Heinrich Luers, Das Fachwissen des Buchbinders, 1943;
Thorwald Henningsen, Handbuch fuer den Buchbinder, 1969; Gustav Moessner,
Die Taeglichen Buchbinder Arbeiten, 1969; Fritz Wiese, der Bucheinband, 1983.

Chronologically seen, the Deckenband (case binding) is not mentioned as
such until Luers. Until then they were all done on the book like the
gebrochener Ruecken. The Deckenband is described as being derived from the
gebrochener Ruecken, but now can be worked completely off the book, i.e.
what we know here as the "German case binding." Gerhard Zahn, Grundwissen
fuer den Buchbinder, 1991, makes no distinction between the Deckenband and
Gebrochener Ruecken. This is the "new" German Berufsschul (tradeschool) text.

In English texts, Laura Young, Bookbinding and Conservation by Hand, 1995,
describes the Bradel in the same way as the gebrochener Ruecken. Her case
binding description is anything but what is described as a Deckenband in
the German texts and closer to the English way of making it, i.e. there is
no connecting strip of paper holding together the spine stiffener and the
boards. This basic Deckenband (case binding) is also described in article
by Dr. Brian Roberts in the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild
Newsletter (Vol, 10, no, 2, Summer 1992), a description which mirrors that
of the German binding manuals.

Also looked at Wolf-LeFranc and Vermuyse, La Reliure, 1967, and Rigaut, La
Reliure, 1989. The former doesn't seem to think much of the Bradel, though
it is mentioned (my French also isn't the greatest), and the latter
mentions it quite a bit showing everything being worked on the book.
Neither says anything about the origins.

Priem-Nielsen, A.V., Larsen Knud Erik, Johs. Hyltoft, Den Håndindbundne
Bog, 1970, focus on the Danish millimeter which has more in common with the
gebrochener Ruecken and Bradel than with the Deckenband (case binding).

More detailed descriptions of these manuals, and many others, can be found
in my bibliography online at

Linguistic and terminology issues also come up with binding styles like the
millimeter. There is the Danish millimeter binding which has a 90 degree
joint but seems technically much closer to the Bradel / gebrochener
Ruecken, than anything else. A derivative of the Deckenband (case binding)
is the Pappband ( a case binding covered in paper) which was refined into
the Edelpappband (noble paper binding) through the addition of leather,
vellum, or cloth trim at head/tail, corners, top or bottom edges and pretty
much any combination of these.  In the US that is called a millimeter
binding (for the very small amount of leather, vellum, cloth, showing -
same reason as in the Danish millimeter) but technically it has nothing
really in common with the Danish being a dressed up paper case
binding.  John Hyltoft gave a presentation at the 1995 Guild of Book
Workers Standards in Tuscaloosa, AL for which Barbara Rosenberg wrote an
excellent article. (Guild of Book Workers Journal, Vol XXXIV, no. 1, 1998).
The reliure simplifié (simplified binding) is an unbacked (but rounded)
variation on the Bradel.... It all gets very confusing, and I think our
international colleagues might be able to add to the list.

For those having a hard time visualizing a millimeter / Edelpappband I have
some examples of ones I've done at
<http://www.philobiblon.com/pdvgal/pdvgal.htm>.  The style is used best for
small, thin books and features nicely proportioned boards and very crisp
worksmanship. A travelling exhibition of the Meister der Einbandkunst
<http://www.mde-einbandkunst.de> (catalog available from the Canadian
Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild at <http://www.cbbag.ca/publi.html>)
features many bindings in this style, and at least one is required for
those invited to apply for full membership.But, I digress...

Traditional manuals are a great source of information on how binding styles
evolved. Don't let the fact that many are not in English discourage from
picking them up. While it helps that my native language is German, I am
able to muddle through with French, Italian, Danish, and Dutch, helped in
large measure by the excellent diagrams these books have. Developing a real
reference library is a must for any serious professional and well worth the
expense. By far, not everything is freely available online, and likely
never will be.

But, I digress, and where were we?



Peter D. Verheyen
Bookbinder & Conservator
The Book Arts Web & Book_Arts-L Listserv

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