Album for A. Koolhoven
Acquired at Bubb Kuyper, Haarlem
Size: 35 x 27 cm.
Shelfmark: 1770 B 15
Beginning around the year 1890, J. A. Loebèr Jr showed himself to be a passionate bookbinder with a keen interest in the history of his profession. The bindings that he produced in his father's studio on the Rapenburg in Leiden are meticulously crafted characteristic pastiches of examples from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Many of the bindings were intended for the collection of Hague banker and musicologist D.F. Scheurleer.
His interest in the history of binding is expressed in a series of articles that he wrote for a German trade journal in which he demonstrates a thorough knowledge of historic styles and techniques. In 1895 he and several colleagues founded the Vereeniging Kunst toegepast op boekbanden [the Applied Art of Bookbinding Society] 'with the conviction that bookbinding deserves a better place in society than it currently occupies...' The idea was to stimulate appreciation for the craft by publishing a magazine and organizing exhibitions.
Loebèr had even higher ambitions, however, and sought to include bookbinding in the design debate taking place in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe during the end of the nineteenth century. In 1897 he organised an exhibition of modern Dutch applied art entitled Keuzetentoonstelling van Nederlandsche moderne kunstnijverheid, along with ceramics artist Willem Brouwer and the curator of the Lakenhal museum, Cees Verster. Strongly influenced by the English Arts and Crafts Movement, they propagated the ideas of William Morris: 'The craftsman must become an artist; the artist must become a craftsman'.
The binding that Loebèr made in 1896 for Abraham Koolhoven, the treasurer of the ANWB [Royal Dutch Touring Club], is a handsome example of these new concepts. The modest seal that Loebèr's father still used to sign his work with was replaced by a gold stamp on the front cover: 'LOEBÈR JR. INV. ET FEC.'. This is the work of a self-assured artist. (RT)