Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Hertzberg Bindery/LBS Records

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1900-1990
Creator: Hertzberg Bindery/LBS
Extent: 6.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0545
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Scrapbooks, photographs, paper sample books, and other materials documenting the history of the Hertzberg Bookbindery in Des Moines (established 1920). The company was renamed Library Binding Service by the late 1930s and continues to operate as three divisions under that general name (usually abbreviated to LBS).

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs throughout.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: These records were the gift of Fritz James in November 2002.

Preferred Citation: Hertzberg Bindery/LBS Records, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Ernst Hertzberg was born in Gramzow, Germany in 1853. On a hill outside Gramzow were the ruins of a monastery several hundred years old. Ernst played among the ruins and developed an interest in the old monastery. He asked enough questions to know that the monks who lived there were devoted to scribing and binding of church history. Excellent examples of their work existed in church archives in Gramzow. Ernst became interested in the structure and beauty of the book and the art of lettering and page illumination.

In Germany, students learned a trade at an early age. Ernst connected with a local bookbinder and for seven years was an apprentice book finisher. He probably started at the age of eight years. By the age of thirteen, Ernst was an accomplished book designer and finisher. Being around books and paper for most of his life he learned to appreciate fine printing, engraving, handmade paper, and books. It was obvious that he also had a love for the content and history that a book contained.

At age thirteen Ernst made a decision to leave Germany and move to Chicago, Illinois. He came to Chicago on his own and started a new life. His first job was working as a helper in a lumber yard. It wasn't long before he used his apprenticeship talents to get a job at Ringer Bookbindery as a finisher. He progressed rapidly with his talent for designing and finishing fine bindings. In the next four or five years Ernst met Charlotte, married and started a family of his own. He also became a partner in the Ringer Bindery, and it became known as the Ringer & Hertzberg Bindery.

Ernst and Charlotte had five sons and two daughters. As the years went on, all of their sons and daughters worked at the bookbinding trade. Under their father's teaching, most learned the skills and craftsmanship of the bookbinding art.

As Ernst built his business and his family, his interest in history and bookbinding began to take shape. He had a vision to create a bookbinding masterpiece by binding William Milligan Sloane's Life of Napoleon Bonaparte (New York: The Century Co., 1896) and adding original letters, portraits, engravings and photographs to the text. [See also Albert Perdue, Hertzberg's Napoleonana, in Books at Iowa.]

Ernst set up an area in his home to collect this Napoleonic memorabilia. He researched all of the dealers in the U.S. and Europe. At times he would purchase a book and only remove one page, a map or engraving. He would carefully place these pieces in the History of Napoleon Bonaparte. As he added each piece, he carefully inlaid it into hand-made high-quality paper and placed it within the text.

The collection of maps and engravings formed a complete illustrated literary history. They also form a complete history of the art of illustration from the time of Napoleon to 1904 when the volumes were finished. Included were hand colored coats-of-arms, steel engravings, woodcuts, lithographs, and photographs of revolutionary history.

Ernst had connections with collections and galleries all over Europe. Some portraits came from collections of the Empress Eugenia and others from a Gallery in Versailles. Some of the photographs were by Cowl -- those of Josephine and Napoleon.

As Ernst collected these pages he heard of the opportunity to exhibit his bindings and his set of books at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.

The set of Napoleonic books was his and not that of the bindery or Mr. Ringer. Ernst and his family designed and finished all ten volumes over a period of years. The volumes were finished in time to be exhibited in St. Louis. He asked a friend what value to place on the volumes and was told $10,000.

It was a proud moment for Ernst and his son, Ernie, who at fourteen years of age accompanied his father to the World's Fair. The books were the center of attention and won a gold medal for the finest example of bookbinding craftsmanship of the time. Many prominent European binders also exhibited and Ernst was pleased to have produced work of such high quality.

The books didn't sell at the fair but a few years later were purchased by Martha Wright Ranney of Iowa City, Iowa. Mrs. Ranney added the 10 volumes to an extensive rare book collection that she was building in memory of her husband, Dr. Mark Ranney, who had died in 1882. Mrs. Ranney worked with many bookbinders over a period of 15 or 20 years to build an important collection. She died in 1907 and left the collection to the University of Iowa.

Mrs. Ranney paid Ernst Hertzberg $12,000 for the ten volume set of Sloane's History of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is difficult to place a value on the set today, but it is irreplaceable and, in a sense, priceless. The set, plus all of the other books from Mrs. Ranney, forms an important place in the rare book collection of the University of Iowa.

After selling the set of books, Ernst bought out his partner, who wanted to retire, and was able to establish a new bindery. He called it the Monastery Hill Bindery. The bindery still exists today in Chicago with Ernst Hertzberg's great, great grandson, Blair Clark, as president.

Monastery Hill Bindery employed all of Ernst Hertzberg's family, plus a few sons-in-law. As all family businesses go, there had to be some conflict. After Ernst passed away his son, Edward, took over. Edward was a harsh leader and strict disciplinarian. To make a point to his son Lawrence, he hit him so hard on the back of the neck that it knocked him to the floor. Several of the brothers knew it was time to find other ways to work rather than stay in this growing family business.

Grover Hertzberg, who was 26 years old, was sent to Des Moines, Iowa to the Harris-Emery department store to display and sell leather bound books to the Des Moines market. During the display, Grover was approached by a group of librarians representing the State Library, public libraries, and other important library collections. They suggested that Grover start a branch of his bookbindery in Des Moines. The year was 1920 and Grover and brother Ernie were so excited by the idea that they built a new building in East Des Moines and were operating as a bindery in 1921. Both Grover and Ernie moved to Des Moines with their families. The bindery did very well and received contracts from the states surrounding Iowa. Unfortunately Grover died at the early age of 32 years. Ernie could not run the operation himself, so he asked if Fred James, Sr. and his son, Fred James, Jr. could come to Des Moines to help out.

Fred James moved his family to Des Moines in 1925 to join the Hertzberg Bindery of Des Moines. Ernie and Grover were given $12,000 each for their share of Monastery Hill Bindery, and they used this money to start the Des Moines operation. Fred James invested $15,000 when he joined the bindery.

Hertzberg Bindery of Des Moines had an idea of providing printed book covers for periodicals and children's books. They patented the concept and sold the license to bookbinderies in the U. S. for $1,000 each. These binderies used the covers to bind books for public libraries. As a result, Hertzberg Bindery incorporated a new company called Library Binding Service, Inc. The business went on during the depression of the late 30's and through the Second World War. After the war the Library Binding Service business grew, but the bindery did not profit.

The Hertzberg brothers got together and decided to form a new company called Hertzberg-New Method. They took the library binding portion of three binderies -- Monastery Hill Bindery, New Method Bindery, and Hertzberg Bindery of Des Moines -- and formed a new company in 1953. The company was located in Jacksonville, Illinois.

In 1995 the Hertzberg-New Method library bindery was sold to Heckman Bindery. A subsidiary of Hertzberg-New Method called Permabound Books still exists as a thriving re-binder of paperback books. In 2001 they were binding 30,000 to 40,000 books per day with annual sales of over 100 million dollars.

Library Binding Service also exists and has three divisions -- LBS Book Components with sales of materials directed at library and edition binders. LBS continues to print book covers for children's books and textbooks. LBS is one of the largest distributors and manufacturers of bookbinding materials in the U.S. Another division is Archival Products, which sells protective enclosures to colleges and universities throughout the U.S. Archival holds a patent for a pamphlet and music binder devised by Fritz James. A recent division of LBS is Corporate Image. This division prints and manufactures presentation materials for U.S. corporations. Corporate Image products include 3-ring binders, presentation binders, pocket folders, and audio and CD packaging. The three divisions employ 100 people and had annual 2001 sales of 20 million dollars. Great grandson, Fritz James, owns and runs the business. Recently Michael James, Fritz's son, joined the business as general manager of the Corporate Image division.

The Hertzberg Bindery/LBS Bindery Records colleciton consists of scrapbooks, photographs, paper sample books, and other materials documenting the history of the Hertzberg Bookbindery in Des Moines.

Series II contains a note in Fred James, Jr's hand, found in a box that contained much of the following material, reads: "started 1929 to find papers for leather binding. 1930-1931-1932 - depression years / fine leather bindings were unnecessary at the time - so library binding became again the main business / popcap - sackets pasted & lacquered etc- / later decorator designs became an idea for books which did not lend themselves to illustration / beginning of collecting decorative papers for treasure trove." Most of the sample books presented here are undated but appear to date to the 1929-1932 period. The larger swatches appear to be later.
Paper Sample Books, MsC 743

There is a little historical information about the Hertzberg/Monastery Hill Bindery, with mention of the Napoleon set and other ceremonial books, as well as a frontispiece portrait of Ernst Hertzbert, in Edward Hertzberg, Forty-Four Years as a Bookbinder (Chicago, 1933). Special Collections x-collection Z269.H47.

Hertzberg's Napoleonana

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL
Series 6: 2014 ADDENDUM

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Hertzberg Bindery Advertising - 1934
    Bound volume of tear sheets for Hertzberg advertisement for "Better Bound" Popular Copyrights. 9.5 x 12 inches.
  • End Sheet Folding Apparatus
    Folder of correspondence and legal papers relating to Fred James, Jr.'s patent application.
  • Miscellaneous Fred James, Jr. Correspondence
    Including note referred to below regarding sample books
  • Notebook circa 1934 containing various binding specifications and what seem to be notes on orders for book board and other supplies.
  • Keepsake blank book manufactured by Hertzberg for the 1935 American Library Association Conference in Denver, Colorado.
  • Leather-covered trifold display board showing Hertzberg Bindery design and tooling for leather spines
  • British Bookbinding Leathers manufactured by J. Hewit & Sons Ltd., Edinburgh and London; Stocking Agents in the United States: Andrews/Nelson/Whitehead. - 1963
    Loose-leaf 3-ring binder sample book showing the full range of Hewit skins.
  • Box 2:
  • Andrews/Nelson/Whitehead. Italian and French Decorative and Marbled Papers/Cockerell Marbles
    2 books of parchment papers. European Printing and Art Papers. Fabriano Cover. Oriental Printing, Fantasy and Art Papers. Price lists dated 1963; September
  • H.D. Catty Company, New York
    Sample book of Lining and End Sheet Papers
  • Douglas Cockerell and Son, Letchworth [England]
    Samples books for marbled papers and cloths
  • Commercial Lining Paper Co., Cleveland, Ohio - 1960
    Comertex sample book
  • Ciulio Giannini & Figlio, Florence, Italy
    Sample book of hand printed printed
  • Thomas Goodall & Co.
    Invoices, correspondence
  • Japan Paper Company
    Two sample books for St. Albans and sample books for Marbled Papers from France; French Ingres Paper; Roma Hand Made Papers from Italy; Roma Covers; Fabriano Covers; Japanese Tissue Papers; and Cockerell marbled papers and cloth
  • Japan Publications Trading Co. - 1965
    Large swatch book and two smaller booklets with typed price list dated August
  • Carl Jensen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Handmarmoreret papir
    Undated sample book of marbled papers; invoices; leather samples
  • S. G. Lindstrand, Lidingo, Sweden
    Samples and cover letter
  • Paul and Diane Maurer
    Samples and prospectus
  • Nelson-Whitehead Paper Corp., NewYork
    Sample book of Cockerell Papers
  • Box 3:
  • New York Central Supply Company - 1960-1969
  • J. Chr. Petersen Papirhandel, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Putois Brother and Co., Paris
    Sample book of French marbled papers
  • St. Albans
  • Slade Hipp & Meloy, Inc, Chicago
    Sample book of Lithograph Lining Papers
  • Steffens, Jones & Co., New York
    Sample book for fancy papers
  • Stevens-Nelsen Paper Corporation, New York
    Sample books of St. Albans Papers and Cockerell Marbles.
  • Sylvia Papers, Leicester [England]
    Sample books for the A and O series of Sylvia Patterned Papers.
  • Tamm & Co., New York
    2 sample books, one for French marbles.
  • Richard Wolfe, Newton Centre, MA
    Samples and cover letter
  • Unidentified
  • Sample book containing both Cockerell-like marbled papers and paste-papers
  • Group of paste papers
  • Board samples
  • Group of apparently Italian papers wrapped in a note: “ordered by FJr in second lot”
  • Box 3:
  • Belgium marbled and printed papers
  • Cockerell Papers
  • French hand-marbles, French hand-printed patterns, and a few printed papers
  • Italian (1) hand- and machine-printed papers
  • Italian (2) hand-printed papers
  • Italian (3) block-printed papers
  • Italian (4) blocked and printed papers
    Stamped patterns
  • Italian: Giulio Giannini & Figlio, Florence
  • Marble papers
  • Paste papers
  • St. Albans Papers printed by the Curwen Press
  • Scottish tartan patterns
  • Swiss fancy printed papers
  • Box 4:
  • Abitibi Provincial Paper
  • Champion Papers
  • Imagination XII; XIX; XX; XXII
  • Printing Saleman’s Herald Number 26, 35, 36, 37, 41, 42 and two unnumbered issues
  • Gilbert Papers
    Brochure on watermarks
  • Hammermill Papers
  • Howard Paper Mills
  • Linweave Division of Brown Company
  • Whitman Textram
    Sample book
  • Wyomissing Corporation
  • Weyerhauser Company
    Innovations in Paper 2:1, 4:2, 5:2; 7:1.
  • Box 5:
  • Allgemeiner Anzeiger Fur Buchbindereien 12, December - 1957
  • Allgemeiner Anzeiger Fur Buchbindereien 1, January - 1964
  • Hertzberg Bindery Incorporated Des Moines - [n.d.]
    A bound catalog stating "a complete list of popular copyrights and juveniles oversewed and entirely rebound in genuine du pont library fabrikoid, attractive bindings, strong long-wearing and colorful with titles, illustrations, and designs stamped directly on the cover of these Hertzberg Bindings are destinctive..."
  • Hertzberg...Des Moines: Books for Everyone catalog - 1935
    "The same carefully selected list of over one thousand library titles..."
  • Series 6: 2014 ADDENDUM
  • Box 5: Folder of material from Lisa Orr-Taylor
    Includes photographs of Treasure Trove Exhibit and other things; eulogy for Ernst A. Hertzberg, clippings, and correspondence.
  • Series 7: SCRAPBOOKS
  • On Shelf:
  • #1 A Century of Hertzberg Craftsmen - 1880-1981
    Photographs (reproduced) beginning with Ernst Hertzberg in 1868, depicting members of the Hertzberg family, employees of the company, and a variety of bookbinding machines and processes. Also a variety of ephemeral printed items (including menus of Henricias Restaurant (Chicago), near which the original Hertzberg bindery was located), brief company histories, and clippings.
  • #2 Hertzberg Craftsmen, Des Moines, Iowa - 1924-1981
    Photographs of company principals and employees, binding processes, and printed ephemera produced by Hertzberg Craftsmen.
  • #3 Hertzberg-New Method - 1954-1957
    Photographs, ephemera and clippings related to the Hertzberg-New Method bindery in Jacksonville, Illinois
  • #4 Library Binding Service - 1981
    Photographs and ephemera by and about principals and employees, binding and cloth printing processes, displays at library and other conferences and conventions.
  • #5 L.B.S. Advertising - 1954-1960
    Mainly concerned with sale of Treasure Trove [printed fabric] bindings, mostly intended for children's books, including Caldecott and Newbery award winners.
  • #6 Bookbindings/Hertzberg, Des Moines
    Unused scrapbook bound with black calf bands across top and bottom, center covered in gray floral silk. 12 3/4 x 15 1/2 inches; slipcase. Laid in is a group of photographs showing Hertzberg bindings and display set-ups at conventions (unidentified). One photograph appears to include the entire group of employees circa 1930.
  • #7 Bookbindings/Hertzberg, Des Moines
    Partially completed scrapbook bound with brown calf bands across top and bottom, center covered in printed fabric derived from a Cockerell marbled paper. 13 1/2 x 16 inches; slipcase. Contains photographs of the exterior of the original Des Moines bindery building and numerous photographs of employees at work, materials and machines employed in the binding process, etc.
  • #8 Hertzberg-New Method, Jacksonville, Illinois scrapbook - 1954
    Untitled spiral-bound scrapbook cased in quarter brown goatskin and finished in a decorative printed paper based on an antique paste paper. 12 by 14 3/4 inches First page is taken from a printed brochure; text begins: We've been asked, some of our librarian friends have asked us why the Monastery Hill Bindery, New Method Book Bindery and Hertzberg Craftsmen formed the new company of Hertzberg-New Method, Inc. Contents are captioned photographs showing equipment and processes at work in the new bindery; group of loose photographs at rear.
  • #9 Treasure Trove Covers
    Spiral-bound scrapbook covered with red buckram and with metal plaque affixed. Contains examples of printed cloth book covers in two and three colors, and probably intended to support salesmen's demonstrations.
  • #10 Treasure Trove Covers
    Red goatskin-grained vinyl scrapbook and contains sample printed cloth book covering materials for children's books. Probably intended to support salesmen's demonstrations.
  • #11 Treasure Trove Covers
    Red goatskin-grained vinyl scrapbook and contains sample printed endsheets designed by Treasure Trove. Probably intended to support salesmen's demonstrations.
  • #12 Treasure Trove Covers
    Red goatskin-grained vinyl scrapbook and contains sample printed endsheets designed by Treasure Trove (partially duplicating scrapbook 11). At the rear is a folder containing samples of a considerable variety of endsheets of differing construction. Probably intended to support salesmen's demonstrations.
  • #13 Design Covers
    Spiral-bound scrapbook with metal plaque affixed to transparent plastic cover. 13 1/2 x 15 inches. Contains sample cloth book covers printed in two or three colors. Most of the designs are geometric and intended to produce a quarter binding effect (i.e., spine is a solid base cover, the boards finished with the geometric design).
  • #14 Decorator Covers by Treasure Trove
    Spiral-bound scrapbook covered in brown pigskin-grained vinyl. 13 x 14 3/4 inches. Printed book covering materials inspired by beautiful fabrics and lovely papers from the four corners of the world.
  • #15 Treasure Trove Illustrated Covers
    Spiral-bound scrapbook in black pigskin-grained vinyl; paper label on spine. 12 1/2 x 14 3/4 inches. Decorative printed cloth covers, mostly incorporating images, largely intended for children's books. A group of geometric designs at rear.
  • #16 Treasure Trove Illustrated Covers
    Spiral-bound scrapbook, not covered. 12 x 14 inches. Examples of advertising materials for decorative printed cloth covers, mostly incorporating images, largely intended for children's books. Sample covers included.
  • #17 Images of Bookbinders - 1953
    Spiral-bound scrapbook with a number of images (printed sketches, drawings and photographs) of bookbinders at work, possibly assembled for use in advertising materials. Includes some miscellaneous materials, including 1953 Des Moines Sunday Register article on Ding Darling's cartoon sequence for The University of Iowa's Main Library.
  • #18 Treasure Trove - 1953-1958
    Sales Campaign Literature. 3-ring binder covered in a Treasure Trove fabric.
  • #19 Offset Designs
    3-ring binder with label Offset Designs / 500-4 spine / 5 size & 3K & under / Various size spines. Contents are alternating sheets with production notes (recording, e.g., cloth color and inks) and samples of the printed Treasure Trove design.
  • #20 L.P. Designs
    3-ring binder with label L.P. DESIGNS. Contents as Offset Designs folder. At the rear is a folder containing information and a catalog for Sleevlok rubber roller designs.
  • #21 Nouvelle Composition Decoratives, 2me Serie
  • #22 Westvaco Inspirations for Pinters: 1946 1947

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Businessmen and Businesses