THE GERMAN EXHIBIT OF BOOKS AT THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION GEORGE FRENCH BOSTON BY THE German exhibit of books at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition was the most notable showing of books ever made in America, and from two points of view: As a showing of the status of the book-making business in Germany it was manifestly complete and comprehensive. As indicative of the progress of the art of printing as applied to the making of books it was suggestive and encouraging. With America so far in the background as to become so insignificant a factor at the Fair as to warrant no attention and comment, the bookman's attention became fixed upon the exhibits of Germany, Great Britain, and France, with the claim for second place oscillating between the latter two. He could not hesitate to place Germany first. The exhibits of France and Great Britain did not, in themselves, typify the actual great ness of the book industry in those lands. To realize that, the observer needed to refer to his general knowledge of the conditions and the product. They were, so to speak, corroborative evidence. They did not make out complete cases. They embraced many fine specimens of bookmaking. The English showed the finest specimens of bookbindings. The French showed a few examples of very sumptuous editions de luxe. Neither of these exhibits mirrored the status of bookmaking in their respective countries, except as the observer had recourse to other sources of knowledge from which to supplement the impressions of the moment. -J* In exactly the sense that the exhibits of Great Britain and France were weak and inefficient that of Germany was complete and wonderfully graphic. It not only gave the observer an impression of the status of German bookmaking, it demonstrated. There were shown books in all departments of literature and music, and by all grades of pub lishers. Through all there were always distinguished traces of an all pervading style and quality which revealed systematic cooperation and a universal standard. Mediocrity was in evidence, but it was tempered with the same standard of excellence in craftsmanship as prevailed in the finer work the grade was made manifest by the cost of the material and the simplification of the methods, but never by neglect of canon or principle, nor by slighted processes. The German bookmakers cling to those processes which have been proven to be ad equate, and are somewhat slow to accept innovations. Yet they are progressive, in the best sense. While the three-color halftone process was discovered, or originated, in Ger many, we find the German bookmakers still using wood engravings for their best multi colored work, and relying chiefly upon the lithographers to execute their maps. They have the saving grace that enables them to allow a new idea or a new process to develop and prove itself; therefore, while the three-colored process illustrations are in evidence they do not dominate. By the operation of this trait, while the Germans may delay the

Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik de | 1904 | | page 47