52 Weeks of Fantastic Bindings, Week 49: a 19th century German illustrated cover

Friday 18 May 2012
The front cover of O alte Burschenherrlichkeit!, printed in 1890 (St Andrews copy at And LA729.G8).

With the last three weeks of this binding series already planned to jam-packed with historic “wow”-pieces, I decided to go for something a bit more personal and casual for this week’s binding gem.  I came across this book today, as I was scoping up a small project with another colleague. I could only see the top of the front board peeking out over the other books, but it was enough to encourage me to pull it off the shelf. What came off was this lovely, 19th century illustrated binding from Germany.

The beautiful gold and green printed endpapers of O alte Burschenherrlichkeit!
The title page and frontispiece of O alte Burschenherrlichkeit!

This is a copy of Paul Grabein’s O alte Burschenherrlichkeit! printed in 1890 by Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft. The book traces the history of students, student organizations and education in Germany and is full of some wonderful photographs that document these subjects in the 19th century (see my favourite below!). The book has been bound in the publisher’s cloth on boards and the front cover has been beautifully illustrated in colour and gold, featuring a very romantic moustachioed student holding a book and overlooking an idyllic countryside (no,  dear reader, this is not how I normally picture myself).  This illustration is signed “FST”, but it is unclear who these initials refer to. Almost as lovely are the green and gold printed endpapers which form a dizzying pattern for anyone opening the book.

The bookplate of James Maitland Anderson.

This book comes from the Anderson Collection, which was the library of James Maitland Anderson (1852-1927), St Andrews University librarian 1881-1925. His collection of about 900 books includes works on philosophy (especially the works of Kierkegaard) and education history. His personal papers are also held by Special Collections, in the Manuscript Archive.

My favourite photograph from this illustrated book (p.338); that fella in the centre looks about like how I feel come Friday afternoon!


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