Fritz Eberhardt

Harleysville, Pennsylvania

Felix Timmermans, Pieter Bruegel, 1950

Bound in full brick red Nigerian goat with seven raised bands. Top edge gilt. Yellow silk embroidered endbands. Blind tooled utilizing tools cut by the binder. 20 x 13 x 5 centimeters. Created 1956. Lent by Don Rash.

Born in Silesia (originally part of Germany; now part of Poland) in 1917, he suffered from polio at an early age, which resulted in a permanent limp. After an apprenticeship he studied bookbinding formally under Ignatz Wiemeler at the Leipzig Academy for Graphic Arts, and calligraphy under the prodigy Rudo Spemann, and later, in Offenbach, with Hermann Zapf. Following the end of the war, he walked out of the Russian occupied zone and into West Germany. There he met his future wife, Trudi Luffert, who was also a binder. In the early 1950s the Eberhardts came to Philadelphia, where he was employed by the Library Company. Within a few years they were able to move to the farm on Old Sumneytown Pike where they would cement their reputations as two of the finest American hand binders. In addition to his binding work, Eberhardt was internationally recognized for his calligraphy. Until his death in 1998, he was a continuing voice for the artistic and cultural value of bookbinding and book works, from his early dealings with the Philadelphia book world through the debates on standards and the beginnings of institutional book arts instruction, as well as a proponent of a more professional approach for our book arts organizations. Among his most noted students were Don and Pam Rash, Tony Haverstick, Bruce Bumbarger, and Jennifer Woods.