Bremen press

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The Bremer Presse was a private press in Bremen , later in Bad Tölz and Munich , which from 1911 to 1934 was dedicated to the production of bibliophile hand press prints with the best possible equipment and processing. Stylistically oriented towards the achievements of the English Doves Press , it met the taste of its audience for a long time. It is considered to be the most successful German private press and has had a strong stylistic impact on German book art . Prints from the Bremen press are sought-after antiquarian treasures today .

This watermark from the Bremen press comes from: Josef Hofmiller, Chansons d'amour, Munich 1921, (copy no.120)

Foundation and program

In the course of the burgeoning book art movement in Germany, Rudolf Alexander Schröder came up with the idea of recommending the founding of a bibliophile private press to Ludwig Wolde, a banker's son with a heart condition . And so Ludwig Wolde began with his school friend Willy Wiegand in Bremen, initially under the guidance of a so-called " Swiss sword ", with the first test prints. The first workshop was set up in a country house belonging to the Wolde family in the Bremen suburb of St. Magnus ( Schotteck House ) and moved to Schillerstraße 31 in Bremen in autumn 1911, where it initially operated as the Bremer Buchwerkstätten . Co-founders were Rudolf Alexander Schröder, Rudolf Borchardt , Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Bremen collector and book lover Leopold Otto Heinrich Biermann . According to the founding manifesto written by Schröder, a limited number of beautiful books should appear annually with an edition of up to 250 copies. Typesetting, printing and binding should be done by hand in a separate workshop. Their program was deliberately bibliophile, had academic demands and should be limited to older texts for an audience interested in art.

Story until the press stopped

The First World War interrupted the work of the Bremer Presse, which began with its first print of Hofmannsthal's Die Ways and Encounters in 1913. The following Tacitus was completed in 1914, but could only be delivered after the war. During the First World War, the workshop moved to Thomas Mann's former country house, which still exists today, at Heißstraße 31, Bad Tölz, where it resumed work in 1919. However, the country house was too small for the workshop in the long run. In order to escape the cramped spatial situation and to establish proximity to a university, the company was relocated again at the end of 1920, this time to a studio building in Munich's Georgenstrasse 16a. Some time before, this house served as a painting school for Anton Ažbe ; Kandinsky , among others, studied here . The Bremen press developed its main activity here. The changed social reality and increasing economic problems in the post-war period led to a departure from the previously pursued sales policy. Rowohlt Verlag took over the distribution of the bibliophile small series .

In 1922, the Bremer Presse publishing house was affiliated with the press ; the selection of texts and the layout of the Bremen press remained true to the principles of the Bremen press , but expanded the program in order to reach a larger readership and to further popularize the types and ideas of the Bremen press . At the beginning of the 1930s it became apparent that the Bremen press could no longer operate profitably. In the years 1930–1934 only five volumes appeared in the Bremer Presse , all other publications were commissioned prints as they were published before this time (for example the prints of the Marées Society or the Edition Lacensis - after the Maria Laach Abbey  - of the Missale Romanum from 1931). The last official work of the private press, Andreas Vesals Icones anatomicae , appeared in 1934. In 1935 the company was liquidated, the existing contracts were largely taken over by the Angelsachsen Verlag, founded by Ludwig Roselius. Up until 1939, Wiegand still processed a few order prints in the Bremen press workshop. The Bremer Presse publishing house was also dissolved and its remaining stock was sold in a Berlin department store. The studio house in Georgenstrasse with its extensive archive caught fire and burned down during a bombing raid on July 13, 1944.

The publisher of the Bremer Presse

The publisher, announced by Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1922, had the goal of supplementing the work of the Bremen press and becoming an economic mainstay for the Bremen press. When designing the prints, the types of the Bremen press were used, the titles and initials were still designed by the press staff. In contrast, these books of use were printed on the high-speed press . The literary program was first directed by Wolde, and the other signatories of the founding act also agreed to work. Further works of Latin and Greek literature, medieval poetry, German, French, English and Italian or oriental literature in original or translation were selected. The translations were provided by Rudolf Borchardt and Rudolf Alexander Schröder, among others. 20 works were to appear annually at a price of 10 to 20 marks . Some of the prints published were printed on handmade paper on the hand press. The journals Neue Deutsche Posts and Corona also appeared in the publishing house .

The artistic staff

Willy Wiegand was responsible for the artistic direction of the press. Ludwig Wolde was in charge of literary management until he left in 1922, and a board of editors followed in his place: Hofmannsthal, Schröder and Borchardt, who also supervised the publishing program. At the beginning of the press, the typesetter Franz Vosswinkel was involved in the first prints, but he died in the First World War. Initials and title woodcuts were initially provided by Rudolf Alexander Schröder; after the First World War, over 1,400 of them were designed by the type artist Anna Simons , later supported by her assistant Franziska Kobell , and cut in boxwood by Josef Lehnacker . Almost all the covers of the prints were taken care of by Frieda Thiersch , whose workshop was also located at Georgenstrasse 16a.

Font creations

The fonts were all drawn by Willy Wiegand, cut by Louis Hoell and cast by hand in the Bauersche foundry in Frankfurt am Main . The first designed Antiqua was based on the incunabula of Adolf Rusch and Johann von Speyer . The 16-point Antiqua was used for the first prints of the Bremer Presse and their announcement. There were even multiple variations of a single letter to even out the lines. This principle was also applied to the next few writings. Paper spacing was also used for evenly distributing the spaces between characters and words. For the following prints, two smaller antiqua styles in 12 point and 11 point were designed. A fracture was designed for the five-volume Luther Bible in 1926 . After all, a Graeca was required for the original setting of the Iliad , so the so-called Homer-Type of the Bremer Presse was created , which was also used for the Prometheus, one of the few illustrated prints of the Bremer Presse . For the order printing of the Missale Romanum, which was printed on the high-speed press, Willy Wiegand created the Liturgica of the Bremer Presse , from which four font sizes were cut.

Hand press prints and their peculiarities

For the efforts to create the beautiful book, the prints benefited not only from their high-quality font and sentence design but also from the use of hand-made paper, which was first supplied by the van Gelder company in Holland, then by J. W. Zanders in Bergisch Gladbach with the watermark of the press. Occasionally, parchment was also printed. The meticulously thought-out hand bindings by Frieda Thiersch are further typical features of the Bremen press . Your prints were the only ones that, besides the Cranach press , have seriously achieved world renown; compared to the Cranach press, they are more of a simplicity and balance, one can also say that they are characterized by uniformity because - with very few exceptions - they are not illustrated and mostly use the same fonts. The first print was a Duodez format, which, however, was to remain unique. From then on, the more common formats were major octave, quarto, and folio. The individual prints at a time overview:

  • Trial prints:
    • The paths and encounters of Hugo von Hofmannsthal
    • Prologue by Rudolf Alexander Schröder
    • Agricola from Tacitus
    • Library directory
    • Achilles of Goethe
  • 1913: Hugo von Hofmannsthal: The ways and the encounters . First published print of the Bremen press
  • 1914: De situ moribus et populis Germaniae que fertur libellus by Publius Cornelius Tacitus
  • 1919: Oedipus the tyrant of Sophocles
  • 1919: Robert Guiskard, Duke of the Northmen by Heinrich von Kleist
  • 1920: Albii Tibulli elegiae
  • 1920: The essays of Francis Bacon
  • 1920: Urfaust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • 1920: Ritter Gluck by ETA Hoffmann (printed by the Marées Society)
  • 1921: Chansons d'amour . Selected and edited by Josef Hofmiller
  • 1921: La Divina Comedia by Dante
  • 1922: Speeches to the German Nation von Fichte
  • 1922: Iphigenia on Tauris by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • 1922: Songs of German Mysticism . Selected and edited by Josef Bernhart
  • 1922: Songs of the Sappho
  • 1923: Iliad by Homer
  • 1924: Homer's Odyssey
  • 1925: De civitate Dei by Augustine
  • 1925: dedications and sacrifices . Poems by Rudolf Alexander Schröder
  • 1925: Foundation for the metaphysics of Immanuel Kant
  • 1926: Prometheus of Aeschylus . Illustrated print by Ludwig von Hoffmann
  • 1926: Odyssey of Homer . Vossian translation.
  • 1926–1929: Luther Bible in five volumes (Vol. 1: Five books of Moses; Vol. 2: The historical books of the OT; Vol. 3: The poetic books and the Apocrypha; Vol. 4: The Prophets; Vol. 5 : The new Testament)
  • 1929: The Psalter by Martin Luther
  • 1929: The constitution of the German Empire
  • 1929: Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • 1929: Poems by Geerten Gossaert
  • 1929: Pensées by Blaise Pascal
  • 1930: Ballads and Songs of Love . Selected by Josef Hofmiller
  • 1931: Sonnets . Edited by Josef Hofmiller and Robert Spindler
  • 1931: Poems by Walter von der Vogelweide . Published by Karl von Kraus
  • 1931: Réflexions et Maximes by La Rochefoucauld, Vauvenargues and Chamfort
  • 1931: Missale Romanum (commissioned print in collaboration with Herder Verlag)
  • 1931: Selected poems from the years 1902–1917 by Rainer Maria Rilke (private print)
  • 1934: Humani corporis fabrica Vesalius


  • Bernhard Zeller, Werner Volke (ed.): Book art and poetry: on the history of the Bremen press and the Corona; Texts and documents . Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, Munich 1966
  • Josef Lehnacker: The Bremen press. Queen of the German private press . Typographic Society, Munich 1964
  • Heinrich Bachmair: The Bremen press . In: Gutenberg-Jahrbuch , 1950, pp. 336–344
  • Magdalene Christ (Ed.): Graphics on Zander hand-made paper. Masterpieces on handmade paper. Catalog for the exhibition of the Zanders Foundation - Paper History Collection from 6 to 29 September 2013, Joh. Heider Verlag GmbH, Bergisch Gladbach 2013, ISBN 978-3-87314-482-8 .

Web links

Commons : Bremer Presse  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Magdalene Christ (Ed.): Graphics on Zander's handmade paper. Masterpieces on handmade paper. Catalog for the exhibition of the Zanders Foundation - Paper History Collection from 6 to 29 September 2013, Joh. Heider Verlag GmbH, Bergisch Gladbach 2013, ISBN 978-3-87314-482-8 . P. 43