Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two Leipzig Bookplates I



Irene Lawford-Hinrichsen

The Background

Every bookplate has a story to tell; but not many of those stories will recount the horrendous series of tragedies represented by the two examples shown here. They were created as presents from my grandfather, Geheimrat Dr. Henri Hinrichsen, to my grandmother, Martha Hinrichsen and to their third son, my uncle, Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen. The huge cumulative sorrow, which these bookplates carry, is a small part of the much greater tragedy, which we all know of as the Holocaust.

Henri Hinrichsen (born in Hamburg in 1868) was the proprietor of the famous music publishing company of C.F. Peters, Leipzig (founded in December 1800). He had entered the company, which belonged to his uncle, Dr. Max Abraham, in 1887 at the age of 19, becoming his uncle's partner in 1894. On Dr. Abraham's death in 1900, my grandfather became sole proprietor. The business thrived and prospered under his careful guidance. With the profits, he became a most generous benefactor to many Leipzig institutions, musicians and individuals. He was a respected member of the town council and on the committees of several worthy institutions, as well as supporting many other organizations. In 1911, he became the founding benefactor of the first All Women's College in Germany - the Henriette Goldschmidt Schule - which he continued to fund for over twenty years. He carried all the financial costs of staffing and of new acquisitions for the Peters Music Library, which Dr. Abraham had presented to Leipzig in 1894. He himself donated the collection of 2,600 musical instruments, which formed the Musical Instruments Museum, to Leipzig in 1926. For all his generous benefactions in the cause of education and for the promotion of German music, my grandfather was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Leipzig University in 1929.

Meanwhile, in 1898 he had married Martha Bendix from Berlin. This happy marriage produced seven children over the course of the next twenty years - five sons and two daughters. In due course, the three eldest sons: Max (who eventually became my father), Walter and the aforementioned Hans-Joachim joined the business.

Apart from being a music publisher, Henri Hinrichsen was a great book-lover. He was one of the founding members of the Leipzig Bibliophiles Association in 1904, a group of 99 gentlemen (no ladies admitted) who called themselves "the Ninetyniners". They were all connected with the book and printing trades; amongst their members were book publishers, music publishers, printers, book designers, graphic artists, paper merchants, book dealers, writers, editors, etc. Many of these were amongst my grandfather's closest friends. One of these, the graphic artist Professor Hugo Steiner-Prag, was always a welcome guest in my grandparents' home; it was he whom my grandfather commissioned to design a bookplate for my grandmother's 50th birthday, in 1929.

The Design of Martha Hinrichsen's bookplate

The bookplate is engraved and printed in redish-sepia colour on good quality, heavy cream coloured paper. Size: 10cms x 14.5cms. Signed in pencil by the artist. The design is very allegorical, but sadly there is nobody alive to tell me exactly what it means. I think that the trees bending towards each refer to the great love between my grandparents. The seven intertwining branches of the trees probably signify that their union produced seven children. The Janus-effect portraits do not depict Martha and Henri Hinrichsen.

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