Joseph Zaehnsdorf binding

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William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), An Essay on the Genius of George Cruikshank. With Numerous Illustrations of His Works ([London]: H. Hooper, 1884). Extra illustrated copy. Unique binding by Joseph Zaehnsdorf in full red calf; solid gilt edges, original cloth covers bound in. Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 946

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Princeton University Library owns 48 books hand bound by the Austrian craftsman Joseph Zaehnsdorf (1816-1886), one of Europe’s most famous custom binders. Founded in London in 1842, his firm created a wide variety of traditional and less-traditional leather bindings. The company merged with Sangorski & Sutcliffe and continues to produce fine art bindings under the heading SSZ.

Zaehnsdorf apprenticed to the German binder Herr Knipe before moving to London in 1837. There he worked for a number of shops before opening his own firm in 1844 and eventually, became a British citizen. London directories list the Zaehnsdorf shop first at 2 Wilson Street, then at 36 Catherine Street, and finally, 14 York Street, Covent Garden where he died.

For more about Zaehnsdorf, see Frank Broomhead, The Zaehnsdorfs (1842-1947): Craft Bookbinders (Middlesex, England: Private Libraries Association, 1986). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) 2009-0177N

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