A New Zealand link with the English Arts and Crafts movement was established in the early years of the 20th century by a young Dunedin woman, Eleanor Joachim, when she travelled to London in April 1903 to learn the craft of fine leather bookbinding in the workshop of Francis Sangorski and George Sutcliffe.1 On her return to Dunedin in October 1904, she set up a studio in Crawford Street ('The Bindery')2 until 1911 when she transferred it to the family home in Randall Avenue, renamed English Avenue in 1917.3 For several years she maintained a regular output of work in the form and style of British bookbinders of the period. She exhibited for a number of years with the Otago Art Society,4 with the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington,5 and with the only Auckland Arts and Crafts Club exhibition of 1912.6 She also showed her work in Melbourne, gaining a silver medal and a special prize.7 After 1920 she was no longer listed in Stone's directories. The latest binding I have seen is of the women's catalogue for the 1925-6 New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in Dunedin. She designed a binding for the Otago Women's Club in 1935, but did not carry it out.8
Mary Eleanor Joachim was born in England, probably in 1874.9 Her father George Joachim was from Devon,10 her mother Susanna Wimperis from Chester. The family came to New Zealand in 1876 and within a few years George Joachim was managing director of the Westport Coal Company with its head office in Dunedin.11 He built a large home on the hill in the suburb of Mornington, where Eleanor appears to have enjoyed a privileged upbringing with her two brothers. Her mother was a watercolour artist, as were her mother's two sisters, Frances and Jenny Wimperis.12 All three were members of the Otago Art Society, and exhibited regularly.page 70
Paper pattern for Paola and Francesca (1903). Hocken Library, Uare Taoka O Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin
Eleanor Joachim was educated at home until the age of 17 when she spent two years at Otago Girls' High School.13 There, she appreciated the encouragement of the principal, Mr Alexander Wilson, in the development of her love of literature.14 An interior photograph of the family home, 'Gatesheath', shows some of her father's large library.15 But while no family diaries or letters are available, Joachim's own autograph book provides some basic information about her travels in 1903-4.16 Apart from one drawing that appears in a separate workbook, annotated in her handwriting as '1st design with Mr Turbayus 1903', there is no evidence of her having taken formal drawing lessons. With a mother and two aunts living at Gatesheath, it is very likely, however, that some of their skills were passed on to her.
Front cover of Paola and Francesca (1903). Alfred and Isabel Reed Collections, Dunedin Public Libraries
In contrast to the applied composite decoration of Victorian commercial binding, Cobden-Sanderson used a series of small individual tools to form organic patterns.19 Combinations of buds, flowers, and leaves with fine interlacing lines based on medieval page 72 prototypes mark much of men's and women's fine craft bindings during the 1890s and early 20th century in Britain. One of Cobden-Sanderson's apprentices, Douglas Cockerell, later taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, beginning in 1897.20 Two of his most promising students were Francis Sangorski and George Sutcliffe who in turn, after setting up their workshop in Southampton Row, London, in 1901, provided tuition for other binders from many different parts of the world. The frontispiece in Joachim's autograph book carries a pen and ink drawing by Sangorski. In London, she would have been able to attend exhibitions by the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, and to see work by other binders, including members of the Guild of Women Bookbinders.
Gold tooling and blind tooling were the two methods of decoration most used by Joachim. In gold tooling the designs were impressed into the leather with heated metal tools over a predrawn paper pattern marked with a code of numbers and letters corresponding to the tools used.21 In this way a series of curved and straight segments built up the linear components of the design. In some examples she employed black or brown colouring instead of gold leaf— five of her bindings in one private collection, for instance, are quarter-bound with leather on the spine and a small amount of leather on the cover boards. These have gold tooled titles on the spine and simple tooled decoration in dark brown.
In addition to the linear tools, Joachim had more than 30 decorative leaf and flower tools and five sizes of an alphabet of capital letters of a typeface closely related to the Golden type designed by William Morris for his Kelmscott Press.22 The type sizes ranged from around 8 point to 30 point (or 2mm to 7mm high) and she used high-quality morocco leathers for most of her bindings. In blind tooling, the leather is decorated without gold leaf or other colouring. A fine example is for the book Paolo and Francesca (see Appendix, item 2), featuring an intricate interlaced design on pigskin. She used olive green silk thread for all the visible hand stitching in the bindings I have studied.
Paper pattern for Plants of New Zealand, featuring a rata tree, Hocken Library, Uare Taoka O Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin
Of special interest are bindings for Joseph Hooker's Handbook of New Zealand flora , and two for Laing and Blackwell's Plants of New Zealand. One of these features a flowering rata tree (it is recorded that this was presented to Queen Alexandra),23 the second has a stylised flowering manuka tree, and both the patterns for these are in the workbook. A copy of this publication, signed '19 M.E.J. 08', was seen in London in the early 1990s,24 and in 1998 the bookseller who handled this copy kindly supplied me with a photocopy of the binding. It is identical with the pattern in the workbook, and has the initials of the original owner 'S.F.M.' tooled with the date '1908' within a diamond arrangement of leaves on the outer back cover.page 75
A few years before her death in 1957, Eleanor Joachim made generous gifts to Dunedin institutions that have enriched public collections of English Arts and Crafts material. To the Dunedin Public Art Gallery she gave ceramics by William de Morgan and Martin Brothers; to the Otago Museum embroideries by William, Jane and May Morris; to the Reed Collection of the Dunedin Public Library a number of books including the Flower book of Edward Burne-Jones and three fine bindings; and to the Hocken Library, five bound volumes of Susanna Joachim's watercolour sketches (of which three were bound by Eleanor Joachim), and the workbook of Joachim's paper patterns — the largest resource available for the study of her work.
Eleanor Joachim had no family descendants and on her death her collection of bindings was dispersed without record. Moreover, no record of her commissions has been found. As few libraries record details of bindings, tracing further examples of her work is difficult. I have examined the fifteen examples of her work currently known to be in various public and private collections, six of which are identified by the tooled initials 'M E J' on the lower margin of the inside back cover. Only occasionally was the date of the binding included. These fifteen bindings, however, when compared to the evidence of her workbook, clearly form only a fraction of her output.
However, as recently as 1996, a gold-tooled green leather binding of The Psalms and Lamentations (1901) from Joachim's personal collection was offered for sale.25 This small but handsome volume is further evidence of her meticulous craftsmanship and design skill, applied during the relatively short period of her active bookbinding career, to the production of at least 120 bindings documented in the workbook, exhibition catalogues, and in public and private collections.26
Appendix: A list of Eleanor Joachim's bindings seen by the author
1. Arts and crafts essays, by members of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition
Society, with a preface by William Morris (1903 reprint). 170 x 105 mm. Full binding in brown morocco with gold tooling in formal leaf design. Signed 'M-EJ'. Reed Collection, Dunedin Public Library.
2. Paolo and Francesca. A tragedy in four acts , by Stephen Phillips (1903). 190 x 118 mm. Full binding in light brown pigskin with interlace and leaf design in blind tooling. Signed 'M-EJ'. Reed Collection, Dunedin Public Library.
3. Autographs, collected by M. E. Joachim, with frontispiece drawn by Francis Sangorski. 96 x 164 mm. Full binding in dark blue-green morocco with gold tooling in flower and leaf design. Reed Collection, Dunedin Public Library.
4. The Psalms and Lamentations , ed. by Richard G. Moulton (Modern reader's Bible series, 1901). 136 x 102 mm. Full binding in dark blue-green morocco with gold tooling in squared leaf design arranged in a 24-part grid. Signed 'M.E.J'. Author's collection.
5. My memories and miscellanies, by the Countess of Munster (1904).
219 x 140 mm. Quarter-bound in red-brown morocco with gold tooled title on spine, no decoration. Private collection.
6. In a Devonshire carrier's van: Tales told in the Devon dialect, by 'Jan Stewer' (1912). 181 x 117 mm. Quarter-bound in brown morocco with gold tooled title and simple tooled leaf design in black. Private collection.
7. In der philester Land, by Paul Grabein (n.d.). 181x117 mm. Quarter-bound in red morocco with gold tooled title and simple tooled leaf design in dark brown. Private collection.
8. Du mein Jena, by Paul Grabein (n.d.). 181 x 117 mm. Quarter-bound in red morocco with gold tooled title and simple tooled leaf design in dark brown. Private collection.
9. Prometheus unbound , by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1898). 136 x 106 mm. Quarter-bound in light brown morocco with gold tooled title and simple tooled leaf design in brown. Private collection.
10. The collector's handy book of algae, desmids, fungi, lichens, mosses, etc. , by Johanne Nave. 181x122 mm. Half-bound in dark green morocco with gold tooling and tudor rose and star design. Private collection.
11. Sketches (vol. 1), by S. W.Joachim. 414 x 302 mm. Half-bound in red-brown morocco with tooled title and simple leaf design in dark brown. Hocken Library, Dunedin.
12. Sketches (vol. 2), by S. W.Joachim. 415 x 303 mm. Half-bound in red-brown morocco with tooled title and simple leaf design in dark brown. Flocken Library, Dunedin.
13. Sketches (vol. 4), by S. W Joachim, 1909. 420 x 304 mm. Full bound in red morocco with tooled title and interlace design in black. Signed '19 M.E.J 09'. Hocken Library, Dunedin.
14. Binding for illuminated address presented to C. W. S. Chamberlain (1908). 223 x 178 mm. Full binding in red morocco with green leather page 77 inlay and gold tooling in flower and leaf scroll design. Signed 'M.E.J.'. Theomin Gallery, Olveston, Dunedin. 15. Womens Section catalogue. New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, 1925-26. 215 x 145 mm. Fully bound outer cover in light brown calfskin with tooled simple leaf design in black. Cover stitched to catalogue with leather thong. Signed 'M E J'. Private collection.
3 Stones Otago & Southland commercial, municipal and general directory, 1884-1920.
6 Auckland Arts and Crafts Club, Catalogue (1912).
7 Otago Daily Times, 30 December 1955, 3.
8 Harding, Brenda J., Women in their time: 75 years of the Otago Women's Club 1914-1989 (Dunedin: Otago Women's Club, 1990).
9 For discussion see M. Montgomery, 'The Wimperis Family: Towards a straightening of the record', Bulletin of New Zealand art history , 14 (1993), 9-14.
10 From Entry of Death (1920), Office of the District Registrar, Dunedin.
11 Obituary, Otago Daily Times, 2 March 1920.
12 Montgomery, 'The Wimperis Family'.
13 Archives, Otago Girls' High School.
14 Otago Daily Times, 30 December 1955, 3.
15 Private collection, Dunedin.
16 Reed Collection, Dunedin Public Library
17 Anthea Cullen, Women artists of the arts and crafts movement 1870—1914 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979), p.187.
18 Arts and crafts essays (London: Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, 1893; reprinted by Longman Green, 1903).
19 Howard M. Nixon, The history of decorated book binding in England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), pp.108-9.
21 Marianne Tidcombe, Women bookbinders, 1880-1920 (Delaware: Oak Knoll Press; London: British Library, 1996) pp.68-70.
22 Alexander Lawson, Anatomy of a typeface (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1990) p.53. A number of foundries produced designs derived from the Golden type.
23 The Triad, 16 no.9 (1 December 1908), 1.
24 Tidcombe, Women bookbinders, pp. 189-90.
25 Author's collection.
26 The audior is indebted to Pam Treanor and Ian Stewart, Reed librarians, Dunedin Public Library; Tim Garrity and Linda Tyler, Hocken Library, University of Otago; Peter Entwisle, Dunedin Public Art Gallery; and Hardwicke Knight, Dunedin, for their valuable assistance with this study. Thanks are also due to Gary Blackman, who took the photographs.