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Department of Early Printed Books

The Collection of Bindings

Max Joseph Husung’s name will always be closely associated with the formation of the collection of bookbindings at the Prussian State Library in Berlin. After having worked with the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke (the Union Catalogue of Incunabula), he became director of the office, and two years later he also assumed responsibility for the collection of incunabula. In 1933, however, Husung was suddenly pulled out of his scholarly work and his service to the state because of a certain remark he had made to some of his colleagues concerning the historical fire in the Reichstag in Berlin. After his death in 1944 it would be a long time before his services were recognized. A biography of Husung was published as late as 1993.

In Husung’s days the Prussian State Library’s collection of bindings was shelved separately except for those in the collections of the special departments. The bindings carried additional class marks that were directly referring to Husung’s main work in that area, published in 1925, “Bucheinbände aus der Preußischen Staatsbibliothek, in historischer Folge erläutert” (Bindings from the Prussian State Library, explicated according to their historical sequence).

The development of bookbinding from the splendid religious bindings of the Middle Ages up to the bindings of the first third of the 19th century is here illustrated by pictures of 182 bindings, some of which are in colour. A second monumental work on this subject was planned, but could not be written anymore because Husung had been dismissed. Today there are about 2,000 bindings in the library’s collection, the publication dates of the books stretching from 1501 to the 21st century.

Listed in

StaBiKat: Max Husung  

SBB16 -  Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts im Bestand der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin des 16. Jahrhunderts im Bestand der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin


Abteilung Historische Drucke / Rara-Lesesaal


Abteilung Historische Drucke / Andreas Wittenberg
Abteilung Historische Drucke / Michaela Scheibe


Einbanddatenbank Arbeitskreis für die Erfassung, Erschließung und Erhaltung Historischer Bucheinbände Galaxie des Wissens