Joseph Zaehnsdorf: Bookbinder

050307a050307bHenri Leon Camusat Riancey’s Lives of the saints was published in 1869 by John Camden Hotten. It Includes 51 chromolithographs by Franz Kellerhoven after Ledoux, all printed in Paris by Hangard Mauge.

Of particular note however, is the contemporary binding by Zaehnsdorf of green goatskin over bevelled wooden boards, the covers tooled in gilt with a wide border of onlaid red goatkin. The covers are decorated with roundels containing a vase and fleur-de-lys surrounded by fleurons, enclosing a large cross with red goatskin onlays and a crown to the upper corners. The spine is divided into six panels, lettered in the second and third and at the foot, the other panels with compartments of onlaid red goatskin, tooled in gilt in a similar fashion to the borders. The edges of the boards and turn-ins are tooled in gilt, with marbled endleaves and gilt edges.

Joseph Zaehnsdorf (1816-1886) was born and educated in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and was apprenticed to a Stuttgart bookbinder at the age of 15. He then spent the following years binding in Vienna, Zurich, Freiberg, Baden-Baden and Paris. In 1837 he arrived in London, starting a bookbinding business of his own in 1844. Soon his bindings became famed for their quality and intricacy. He exhibited at the 1862 International Exhibition, where he received an honourable mention. Today his bindings are highly prized by collectors.

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