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Department of Early Printed Books

The Centre of Excellence for Binding Research

Bucheinband von Jakob Krause, Dresden 1582
Bucheinband von Jakob Krause, Dresden 1582

Through the development of the EBDB Database of Bookbindings , supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Department of Early Printed Books has taken on a leading part in the field of indexing and research of 15th and 16th centuries’ bookbindings. After other libraries from Germany and abroad joined the project, EBDB has become the central information system on German bindings of the early modern period on an international scale.

Relevant data are entered locally into the central database and are presented as a combination of text and image data via the Internet. The EBDB Database also helps to achieve standardization of the specific terminology and is on its way to replace relevant printed repertories. Thus, all in all, EBDB makes a strong contribution to the development of a data-driven approach in the field of binding research.

The office of the Arbeitskreis für die Erfassung, Erschließung und Erhaltung Historischer Bucheinbände (AEB), founded in 1996, and the editorial staff of the journal Einband-Forschung are also part of the CoE.

Traditional research fields are being supplemented by a variety of projects: The State Library, for instance, aims at recording and presenting in its online catalogue a representative selection of its 19th and 20th century publishers’ bindings, which have undeservedly been neglected to date. Another project has just begun by which rare hand-made decorated paper in books of the historic collections is recorded. This is being done on the basis of an extended standardized terminology developed by the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek Weimar in consultation with members of the Arbeitskreis Buntpapier.

In order to consolidate the library’s manifold activities and to make services available in a comfortable way to scholars throughout the world, the Staatsbibliothek is considering the development of a central portal for bookbinding research, preferably in cooperation with the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL).

The CoE’s activities are fundamentally based on the library’s remarkably rich collections of rubbings and its historic Collection of Printed Books in general. Paul Schwenke’s collection of rubbings is focused on late medieval bindings decorated with stamps. Max Joseph Husung continued Schwenke’s work and laid the foundation for the library’s Collection of Bindings. The scholar Ilse Schunke not only edited and published Paul Schwenke’s work, but also built up her own collection of rubbings of Renaissance bindings. In order to supplement these corpora, the library has recently acquired the binding archives established by Konrad von Rabenau, which are considered to be the most extensive collection of binding ornaments of the early modern period in Germany.