Zaehnsdorf, Joseph (DNB00)

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ZAEHNSDORF, JOSEPH (1816–1886), bookbinder, son of Gottlieb Zaehnsdorf, of Pesth in Austria-Hungary, was born in that city on 27 Feb. 1816, and received his education in the gymnasium there. At the age of fifteen he was apprenticed to Herr Knipe, a bookbinder of Stuttgart, with whom he remained five years, afterwards proceeding to Vienna, where he worked in the shop of Herr Stephan, a bookbinder in a large way of business. He left Vienna about 1836, and successively visited Zürich, Freiburg, Baden-Baden, and Paris. In 1837 he came to London, and obtained employment in the establishment of Messrs. Wesley & Co., Friar Street, Doctors' Commons, for whom he worked three years. He afterwards entered the shop of Mr. Mackenzie, a binder of considerable eminence, and there he remained until 1842, when he commenced business on his own account at 90 Drury Lane, removing in 1845 to 30 Bridges Street, Covent Garden, afterwards called 36 Catherine Street. Zaehnsdorf became a naturalised British subject in 1855, and died at 14 York Street, Covent Garden, on 7 Dec. 1886. In July 1849 he married Ann, daughter of John Mahoney, by whom he had an only child, Mr. Joseph William Zaehnsdorf, his successor in business and author of ‘The Art of Bookbinding.’

Zaehnsdorf was an excellent craftsman, and his work may be ranked with that of Bedford and Riviere. The forwarding and finishing of his bindings are equally good, and much artistic taste is also displayed in their decoration. Fine examples of his workmanship are to be found in the libraries of all the great English collectors of the day. He exhibited at the London International Exhibition of 1862, where he received honourable mention. He also obtained medals at the Anglo-French Working Class Exhibition, held at the Crystal Palace in 1865, at the Dublin Exhibition of 1865, at Paris in 1867, at Vienna in 1873, and at South Kensington in 1874.

Zaehnsdorf was acquainted with the German, French, and Italian languages, and also with several of the Sclavonic tongues.

[The British Bookmaker, iv. 8; Journal of the Soc. of Arts, xxxv. 38; British and Colonial Printer and Stationer, 22 Dec. 1886; information supplied by the family.]

W. Y. F.