Department of Early Printed Books

The EBDB Database of Bookbindings

In addition to its excellent collection of original bookbindings from five centuries the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin owns extensive collections of rubbings – among them, above all, the rubbings made by Paul Schwenke, the collection of Ilse Schunke and the archives for binding research built up by Konrad von Rabenau.

The Einbanddatenbank (EBDB) was developed at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin to fundamentally improve the cataloguing and indexing of the Schwenke and Schunke collections, which – although of inestimable value as sources for the study of bookbindings – till then had not been adequately accessible for the scientific community.
In the course of a project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which also involved the collections of the Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart and the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, EBDB was further developed to become the central database for research into German bookbindings of the 15th and 16th centuries.
Initially late medieval bindings (stamps) and German Renaissance bindings (rolls and panel stamps) were indexed. In the meantime further libraries joined the project, among others the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, the university libraries at Darmstadt, Rostock and Nijmegen, and also the library of the Evangelisches Predigerseminar at Wittenberg.

EBDB not only offers descriptions of the bindings, but also puts their images at the users’ disposal – which is absolutely essential for the correct identification of bindings. Search options offered include iconographic, biographic and local aspects. Special search strategies adapted to the characteristics of the material have been designed and guarantee fast retrieval in combination with high recall and precision. Thesauri for the description of the motifs found on the stamps, rolls and panel stamps are a central component of EBDB. Thus, for the first time in the history of binding research extensive indexes of authority data are available, partly already enriched by digital images.

In order to be able to replace printed repertories in the field of binding research in the medium term, a new conception for EBDB has been worked out in summer 2016. Apart from many adjustments to state-of-the-art web conventions, it will offer quicker and even more user-oriented solutions. Institutions seeking to record their bookbindings (or rubbings) of the early modern period in a database environment of high scholarly and technical quality, are explicitly invited to collaboration.