The Mysterious Neue Jugendführer and Müller’s Buchhandlung

Cotsen 7636299

Above is a most mysterious print (a loose end that turned up during our recent temporary office move). My best guess is that it is uncut proof for the conjugate frontispiece and title page for the book Der neue Jugendführer [The new youth leader]. As the title page points out this book was published “In Müller’s Buchhandlung” (In Müller’s Bookstore) in Pest, Hungary. The lengthy subtitle makes clear that this book is an instructive (and well illustrated) polyglot primer: Der neue jugendführer : ein nützliches, und angenehmes A.B.C. = Buchstabier und Lese = bilderbuch fur die Jugend, mit 128 Abbildungen, nebst Deutsch, Französischen, und Ungarischen benennungen [The new youth leader : a useful, and pleasant A.B.C. = spelling and reading = picture book for the youth, with 128 illustrations, besides German, French, and Hungarian designations].

Curiously, however, there seem to be no surviving copies of such a title. So how can this be the title page for the “Zweite Auflage” [second edition]? Perhaps it’s as simple as concluding that the work was never published. Yet compounding the conundrums around the title is that since this is the neue jugendführer, one might expect to be able to locate the original Jugendführer. But again, no dice (to be pedantically clear, however, there are works containing “Jugendführer” in the title, but most are later than the above print and published by different publishers in mostly German cities).

“Title page” for closer examination, notice the absence of a publication date

While attempting to date the item I was able to locate a paltry few other works published in Pest by “Müller’s Buchhandlung” or “Joseph Müller’s Buchhandlung” from 1818 to 1823. All of these seem to be adult titles, mostly dealing with history and religion. After this time “Müller’s Buchhandlung” seems to move around a bit with titles appearing in Albendorf, Poland and Lucerne, Switzerland) Then again, Müller is a pretty common German last name and there are a number of bookshops and publishers operated by Muellers throughout the German-speaking world.

So maybe the “frontispiece” will yield some helpful information?

“Frontispiece” of Müller’s bookstore

The hand-colored etching (with engraving) ostensibly depicts the real Müller’s bookstore in Pest. The caption gives voice to the imploring youngster: “O, Mutter, ich bitte dich, nehme mir den Jugendführer!” (O, Mother, I beg you, take me to the youth leader!). Hard to make out above, the illustration is signed: “Perger del.” on the left and “Lehnhardt sc.” on the right. So, given the rough dates above, the illustration was “delineavit” [designed by] either Sigismund Ferdinand von Perger (1778-1841) or his son Anton Perger (1809-1876). The “sculpsit” [engraving by] Lehnhardt, was as close to an attribution as I could find.

Unfortunately, we might never know more about Müller, his bookstore, or his Jugendführers. But clearly, enigmas abound at the Cotsen Children’s Library, and it’s always fun to see what we can discover.

For other Cotsen forays into the (more recent) bookstore world, check out this post by Jeff Barton about some notable bookstores on the Pacific Northwest:
On the Road with the Cotsen Library, or, Some Independent Bookstores Are Alive and Well

another by Andrea Immel about a famous bookstore in LA:
Tour The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles

and last but not least, Minjie Chen’s about bookstores in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi

Notes of a Summer Traveller 2



A Brief Story of Noah’s Ark and the Renaissance of Handmade American Paper

Cotsen 96522

While rehousing a number of prints and original artworks I came across this curious piece. It’s a custom-made card (in the shape of Noah’s ark when folded along the seam) that tells a silly story full of animal puns in which Noah deprecates Japheth into working on the Ark; “in the year 1977.”  The illustrations consist of pairs of animals stamped in burgundy and blue ink, complete with the dove and olive branch in the top left. The card is signed “All the best, Kathryn and Howard Clark,” whom I first assumed were  friends of Mr. Cotsen’s.

Cotsen 96522 text

But upon closer inspection of the item and further research into its provenance, I discovered more fascinating facts about this really unique work! The paper is deckle- edged and clearly handmade (complete with the papermaker’s watermark to the left of the elephants). If this fact wasn’t already obvious from the paper’s appearance and texture, it was definitely brought home after I discovered just who Kathryn and Howard Clark are. When printmaker and fine artist Kathryn Clark discovered that all fine handmade paper was being imported from Europe, she and her industrial designer husband Howard Clark sought to build and establish the first fine papermaking mill in America since the nineteenth century. The Clarks are the founders of Twinrocker Handmade Paper (thus the logo resembling symmetrical rocking chairs). Established in 1971, and operating out of rural Brookston, Indiana since 1972, Twinrocker Handmade Paper is largely responsible for a renaissance of fine American handmade papermaking.

Cotsen 96522 watermark

Here at Cotsen, we’re just happy to have an excellent example and early artifact of this important legacy.

For more about Kathryn and Howard Clark, American papermaking, and Twinrocker Handmade Paper, visit this article by the American Printing History Association and Twinrocker’s own website.