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German book on leatherwork

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After searching for books about saddle making, I tried to do a similar search in German. And I found an impressive book called "Das Sattler Riemer und Täschner Handwerk"

The book is from a small printing house called Fines Mundi from Germany. And it is a 100% copy of the original book which was published in Berlin in 1908.
The author is Karl Vollmer, who was an old master saddle maker from Mannheim. 

There are 691 pages from the first edition, and an additional 40 pages that were included in the second edition of the book. Coupled with 1046 illustrations it is an impressive piece of work.
It seems as the original book was supplied with some full size plans for a couple of the things, but sadly these are not part of the book anymore, I guess that the printing house haven't found anyone who has actually kept these full size plans.

Not surprisingly, a large part of the book is about horse related work, but it is not limited to saddles and headstalls. There are theoretic chapters about the horse and the physiology of the animal, a chapter on making fancy work for parade draft horses, a chapter on everyday working gear for horse. Various plans for specific military gear depending if your were to make a breastplate or a headstall for a Hussar officer or a regular infantry officer. And the list goes on and on. Wagon building is covered too, though it is is noted that it should happen in collaboration with the blacksmith and the regular coach builder. But the upholstery is described in detail, as is the choice and method of painting the wagon.
The modern invention automobile is also mentioned as something that can provide a bit of work both on items like leather goggle and again upholstery.

It seems as the author really wanted to convey all his years of wisdom to someone who wanted to start out on their own, so the economics of a saddle making business is discussed in a separate chapter, and then an entire chapter is devoted to examples of letters that you might have to write as a business owner. Letters of announcing that you are opening shop, letters to offer your services to prospective buyers. Letters to people who owe you money etc.

The only drawback to the book in my opinion is that it is printed in gothic style letters. that makes it a bit hard to read until you become accustomed to them which takes a little while. 
The book is also  written in German which might be a deal breaker to some. 

When I bought it, the shipping was much slower than anticipated, but I might not be the most patient guy when it comes to waiting on books and stuff that I have ordered.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Fines Mundi or the author, and I did not receive any discount or special treatment for writing this post. I just figure that in this forum there might be one or two people who could appreciate to learn about the existence of an interesting book from a master saddler.

 

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8 hours ago, Northmount said:

@Mulesaw Moved your post to general saddlery discussion.  I think it will get more interest in that group here.

Good idea, and thanks :-)

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Yes, I do appreciate the tip, thank you! I put it immediately on my wishlist, even though I don't exactly need a textbook on what a master saddler needed to know over a hundred years ago. (Historical note: In Germany, and other European countries, you couldn't/can't simply set up shop in a traditional trade when you feel like it. You need(ed) to do a few years of apprenticeship, at the end of which you passed your journeyman exam which allowed you to work in a master's shop. After again a few years you could do your masterpiece, pass another exam, obtain the title of master and then set out on your own. Some of these rules have survived till today, but I don't know details.)

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A friend I used to ride with many years ago was from Germany. Her husband owned a painting business. The same rules applied to go into that business, and the apprenticeship was quite long!

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In Denmark it used to be that each small town would have its own "gilde" for each profession. Pronounced very similar to the English "guild"  (I guess it is actually the same word)

Later on another word called "laug" was used. But the basic operating principles were the same.

You had to prove that you were capable of doing work that would live up to the standards of the guild, and (probably more important) the guild would set its own rules for how many masters of there could be within the local area of the guild. The latter was so that you had a way of making sure that there was enough work for those who were already established, so they would be able to make a living.

Traditionally they would also work as a social security system for e.g widows of diseased members of the guild. So you would pay a fee (monthly or yearly) to the guild, and some of those funds would be used to provide for those in need who were connected in some way with the local guild.

I would love to take some pictures of some of the illustrations of the book to back up my endorsement of it, but I couldn't find any descriptions of the policy regarding that on the homepage of the printing house. So I don't want to get in trouble with any copyright here, so you just have to take my word for it. I got the deluxe version of the book, but there's also a paperback version. I just happen to like a nice looking book, and I like to support a business that try to keep small crafts like bookbinding alive in Europe. But I am pretty sure that the content of the books is the same.

So far I have started making a halter using a plan from the book. It is a bit different those that I have made before in that there is also a band for the forehead of the horse. Which I have never seen on halters, but only on a headstall.
There's also plans for a side saddle which could be fun to make at some point :-)
 

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17 minutes ago, chuck123wapati said:

Have you managed to download the book? For me the links go nowhere and the "description" below the picture is highly suspicious (complete nonsense). I was hoping to maybe find it on German Gutenberg project, but no luck...

Amazon Germany has quite a few pages preview though: https://www.amazon.de/Das-Sattler-Riemer-Täschner-Handwerk/dp/374189883X?asin=374189883X&revisionId=&format=4&depth=1

Edited by Klara

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9 minutes ago, Klara said:

Have you managed to download the book? For me the links go nowhere and the "description" below the picture is highly suspicious (complete nonsense). I was hoping to maybe find it on German Gutenberg project, but no luck...

Amazon Germany has quite a few pages preview though: https://www.amazon.de/Das-Sattler-Riemer-Täschner-Handwerk/dp/374189883X?asin=374189883X&revisionId=&format=4&depth=1

no same here i'm still trying.

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I doubt that the book is made available as an electronic book, but I could be wrong.
Here are two links, one for the book on Amazon and one from the printing house itself. 

I can inly find the paperback version on Amazon, it is sort of half the price of the de luxe version.

https://www.amazon.de/Das-Sattler-Riemer-Täschner-Handwerk/dp/374189883X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

https://fines-mundi.de/vollmer-das-sattler-riemer-und-taeschner-handwerk

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And sorry that half my replies seem to be late, but we are at sea now with a crappy Internet connection, so when I post and the net is refreshed, I see that there has already been links to the Amazon site.

 

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@fredk You do a MUCH better job than I do at finding stuff like that on the Internet :lol: 
 

That offer from the last link of yours looks like a great deal. There's a couple of extra books in that deal as well. 
My only problem is that if I order something electronic, I'll probably forget to look at it. I need a book in hard copy :-)

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On 9/24/2021 at 7:29 PM, Mulesaw said:

After searching for books about saddle making, I tried to do a similar search in German. And I found an impressive book called "Das Sattler Riemer und Täschner Handwerk"

The book is from a small printing house called Fines Mundi from Germany. And it is a 100% copy of the original book which was published in Berlin in 1908.
The author is Karl Vollmer, who was an old master saddle maker from Mannheim. 

There are 691 pages from the first edition, and an additional 40 pages that were included in the second edition of the book. Coupled with 1046 illustrations it is an impressive piece of work.
It seems as the original book was supplied with some full size plans for a couple of the things, but sadly these are not part of the book anymore, I guess that the printing house haven't found anyone who has actually kept these full size plans.

Thank you very much for sharing your find and this book! I am currently writing an essay on art and leather goods, I asked https://uk.edubirdie.com to help me, I don’t know what kind of literature would be better to use. Therefore, I try to find something useful for a beginner.

Not surprisingly, a large part of the book is about horse related work, but it is not limited to saddles and headstalls. There are theoretic chapters about the horse and the physiology of the animal, a chapter on making fancy work for parade draft horses, a chapter on everyday working gear for horse. Various plans for specific military gear depending if your were to make a breastplate or a headstall for a Hussar officer or a regular infantry officer. And the list goes on and on. Wagon building is covered too, though it is is noted that it should happen in collaboration with the blacksmith and the regular coach builder. But the upholstery is described in detail, as is the choice and method of painting the wagon.
The modern invention automobile is also mentioned as something that can provide a bit of work both on items like leather goggle and again upholstery.

It seems as the author really wanted to convey all his years of wisdom to someone who wanted to start out on their own, so the economics of a saddle making business is discussed in a separate chapter, and then an entire chapter is devoted to examples of letters that you might have to write as a business owner. Letters of announcing that you are opening shop, letters to offer your services to prospective buyers. Letters to people who owe you money etc.

The only drawback to the book in my opinion is that it is printed in gothic style letters. that makes it a bit hard to read until you become accustomed to them which takes a little while. 
The book is also  written in German which might be a deal breaker to some. 

When I bought it, the shipping was much slower than anticipated, but I might not be the most patient guy when it comes to waiting on books and stuff that I have ordered.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Fines Mundi or the author, and I did not receive any discount or special treatment for writing this post. I just figure that in this forum there might be one or two people who could appreciate to learn about the existence of an interesting book from a master saddler.

 

Thank you very much for sharing your find and this book!

Edited by nickbor34

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@nickbor34 Thanks for the nice comment :-)

I could see that fredk managed to find a seller who has it as a pdf file. 
So that could be a solution. But personally I like a nice bound book where I can smell and feel the paper.

But again, the language is German and the letters are of the gothic version, so it isn't the easiest thing to read. 

Brgds

Jonas

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3 hours ago, Mulesaw said:

. . . .But personally I like a nice bound book where I can smell and feel the paper.

Abebooks has some paper copies available See if any of these are suitable

https://www.abebooks.co.uk/9783741898839/Sattler--Riemer--Täschner--Handwerk-374189883X/plp

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@fredk I just checked those. I think they are the paperback versions that Fines Mundi sells. well at least they sell them on amazon.

I already got the deluxe book :-) I was just trying to explain my "problems" with electronic books  :lol:

Translating a book like that seems to be a colossal task, but it sure would make for a fine book that could reach a broader audience if it was translated into English, and at the same time was written with normal letters. 

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But surely there must be English books about saddle and tack making? From what I have seen, many parts of the book are only of historical interest. And I am pretty sure that the reasonable price is because there was very little work involved. The publisher either scanned an old book or got hold of the printing plates and just did a reprint. Which many Germans are not happy about either (I don't like Gothic letters...)

Normally, a comprehensive textbook for a highly specialized market is a lot more expensive. Btw, I wonder whether the saddlery apprentices of today have textbooks... @Mulesaw Do you ever meet saddlers (when they come to improve the fit of your son's horse's saddle)? Could you ask whether there are textbooks?

Edited by Klara

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@Klara I agree that most of the book is just of historical interest, but still some of the points are still valid but I wouldn't use it as a textbook for someone wanting to build a saddle. (well yes, actually I might  :lol:)

I would suspect that the book would work really well as sort of a reference book if you had completed a classic saddler education.

Last time we had a saddler around I never thought about asking him, I was simply awestruck by watching him work.
Not that he did any direct work with his hands, but he just looked at Gustav riding a few rounds on the court, then Gustav was told to stop and he explained what he had seen. I initially thought that "come on, you have only seen the horse and rider trotting a little  so you can't possible have an opinion already".

I was SO wrong.

He said that the width of the saddle was too wide and that could be seen due to this and this. He then showed med exactly what he could see, and then I was able to see it too. The iron in this particular saddle is of a type that you can't alter which he also knew just from looking at the saddle. So his advice was to get a specific lamb skin pad where we should ad some extra padding to make up for the slightly too wide iron. 

So all in all I was so impressed that I never thought about asking him about any books.  etc. 
The funny thing is that we have had a lot of really good horse trainers looking at the equipage and they haven't been able to see that something was not 100% correct. Not that I am blaming them, since they did the best they could. 
I'm probably more blaming the general culture where people lure themselves into believing that having a friend looking at your saddle fit is just as good as having a trained saddler doing so. Though a good friend with knowledge can probably see more than you yourself if you are someone who is just starting in horses. But for us, the 100 Euro (I think it was) for a saddle check was all worth the money. without a doubt.

sorry for the long answer, but I got a bit carried away :)

On another note, I still think that I'll try to see if I can build a saddle based on the book, but my plan is to completely refurbish a couple of old pony saddles first that I have acquired. That way I hope to recognize the things that I have read in the book. And I can see if I was right or wrong in how I deciphered the text instructions.

 

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just to offer a suggestion? have you looked at the book " Al Stohlman Encyclopedia of saddle making"? it was originally 3 vol. but they made it into one, and it is hardback. 708 pgs. plus it shows you how to make a few " tools" a pull-down horse, a saddle rack and something else. awesome book. Tandy still carries it. you might be interested. hope this helps.

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@OLESKIVER I wanted to buy that book, but it is sold out from Tandy, and I have never tried to buy anything from ebay where it might be possible to find it. (I might be a bit weird in that respect). 

I would love to get my hands on it, but so far I haven't found a copy for sale.  There was one on this forum for sale I thin two years ago, but it seems as those who got the book holds on to it - which I see as a sign of a good book.

I would guess that there is a bit of difference between a Western saddle and a European saddle, but how much it is in terms of the actual leather parts I don't know. The design is different of course, but I would guess that a method of draping leather over a curved surface would work equally well regardless if the book was aimed at one or another type of saddle.

The German book that I have bought covers saddle making in 48 pages, and I haven't read all of the chapter yet, but it seems pretty thorough. It covers regular saddles, saddles made with pig skin leather, army saddles, side saddles and saddles for circus horses It even specifically mentions the American Army saddle, which is a bit different to the German Army saddle. 

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Mulesaw  you might try tandy again. they might have it back in stock, it is possible that Weaver leather supply or Springfield leather might have a copy of it also. the book goes into detail about how it should fit the horse, and some problems that arise from poorly made saddles. the " Leathercrafters and saddle makers journal has been running a series by Bob Klenda on making saddles. that might help. plus in the book he shows some dicontinued C.S.Osborne tools, of which I have one of them. bought it new, it is now 50 yrs. old. but yes, I agree, there is some differences, but also some useful stuff. good luck on getting it.  I wouldn't give mine up for love or money.  lol

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@OLESKIVER Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try to check out Tandy or one of the other stores you mentioned again. The information about how the saddle should fit the horse is very interesting since that seems to be a topic where there is a lot of confusion and generally not that much real knowledge. I know that I won't be an expert by reading a book, but it should hopefully make me a bit more knowledgeable about what to look for.

I can't offer you love for your book, but I would have offered you money :) in the rare hope that you had decided that you didn't need the book anyway (not gonna happen I suppose :lol:)

Just before going back to sea, I had someone asking me if I could change the girth strap on a saddle. I have to admit that I felt a bit nervous when I had to cut open part of the old stitching to get to the steel part of the tree. It was the forward strap that was damaged, and that one is riveted to the steel, so I had to take that saddle apart and then sew it back together. The saddle ended up better than when I got it, and my sewing wasn't in any way worse than what was on it before. 

Just out of curiosity, what is the special tool that you are mentioning? 

Brgds Jonas
 

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I've ridden both English and Western and I believe that there is very little overlap regarding saddle making techniques.  So I don't think the Stohlman Encyclopedia will be all that useful for you (just a small consolation if you can't get hold of it).

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Thanks for the interesting discussion.  The Stohlman Encyclopedia of Saddle Making is a fun read and the construction methods are generally informative, even though I don't plan to build a saddle.  Stohlman's "Art of Making Leather Cases" (Vol 1-3) is another great resource for constructing sturdy leather items. @Mulesaw let me know if you have trouble finding the Saddle Making Encyclopedia.  It was in stock at the Springfield Leather Co store a few months ago when I visited. 

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