Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tales from ebay: Krebs in close-up plus an Adolf Kunst

As there has been more interest than expected in Otto Krebs, here is an image of the Schneider bookplate with more detail. The work is so well-printed, I begin to wonder all over again whether he had the help of a printer. One thing that makes me think this is an image by the German architect and printmaker, Adolf Kunst,  which shows a man using a printing press. I think I own one of these though I'm not sure. But below, a full size colour woodcut by Kunst. This came up for sale recently on ebay and went for the bargain price of €23. Apparently, it's in alot better condition than one I have. During the 1920s Kunst adopted a fairly raw technique which I sometimes feel uneasy about in his prints but like alot in the bookplates. He made alot of these  and one or two are well worth buying.

During the twenties, Kunst adopted a rather  more raw style of cutting. These images can be a touch crude (his training comes out in his choice of subject) but when his prints are in good condition, the colours jump off the paper as fresh as the day they were printed. And this is something people who are sniffy about ex libris should consider: although bookplate collectors had some nasty habits when it came to mounting their bookplates (dabbing them down with glue, trimming the margins, sticking them onto backing card - all details sellers can somehow omit in their descriptions), the prints themselves are often clean and bright simply because they have been kept away from the light. I'm glad I bought a few when I could.


  1. Actually it was € 24,17 but still a bargain. I know this index on Kunst, describing over 500(!) bookplate designs. And your right having a few is great. These were very skilled and artistic printmakers. Despite the "raw" style Adolph managed to create socks, knickers, geraniums and the bricks in the chimneys. In a 15x16cm print that's quite an achievement. Hanging rematted and reframed the big white arrow shape already drawing every visitor to it revealing its details only when you're close enough. After a 100 years that's quite an achievement too.

  2. Yes, the white V is prominent and striking. He was a very effective colourist when he got going, even if the images themselves were wonky.

    And thanks for the reminder.