Document Type





springback binding, sprungrücken, German springback, ledger book, account book


Art Practice | Book and Paper


These instructions for making a springback account book are derived from my notes as an apprentice at the Kunstbuchbinderei Klein, with adaptations over time. While my training is in the German tradition, the steps outlined should not be radically different from the English tradition. Although the technique was originally patented in Great Britain in 1799 by John and Joseph Williams,) the authors have found very few descriptions of this method in contemporary English language texts. Alex J. Vaughan describes the technique with great detail in Section II, 'Stationery Binding' of Modern Bookbinding. There is also an historical mention in Bernard Middleton's A History of English Craft Bookbinding, but it does not detail the steps required to complete a binding. The German binding literature, however, covers the springback quite thoroughly in such texts as Thorwald Henningsen, Paul Kersten, Heinrich Luers, Gustav Moessner, Fritz Wiese, and Gerhard Zahn, and the technique is still required learning for all hand bookbinding apprentices in Germany. As a style, the springback is firmly rooted in the 'trade' binding tradition. The springback's robustness, and ability to lie open and flat for extended periods of time without unduly stressing the spine make the structure ideal for use as account and record books. These same qualities make it suitable for guest-books, lectern Bibles, and similarly used books. Regrettably the structure is rarely found on fine bindings or in contemporary book art, especially as the structure would be a suitable platform for many elements of design bindings. Its thick boards would provide a canvas for more sculptural or inset designs. With some minor modification it could also serve as a means of presenting pop-up constructions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.