18th C Colonial Bookbinder Christoph Hoffmann

Are you interested in Colonial American bookbinding?
What kind of life did a PA Colonial bookbinder lead?
What were some of the common styles in colonial bookbinding?
Where would a colonial PA bookbinder have learned his trade?

On Wednesday, November 9, as part of our Brown Bag Lecture series, Archivist Hunt Schenkel will answer these questions and share with us images of colonial bookbindings attributed to Schwenkfelder bookbinder Christoph Hoffmann, discoveries about his process written in Hoffmann’s own bookbinding manual, and characteristics of Hoffmann’s bindings found in our collection.

Christoph Hoffmann's bound hymn collection 1760

The bound manuscript copy of the 1760 Schwenkfelder hymn collection, bound by Christoph Hoffmann.

Pictured here, the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center has the manuscript of a 1760 Schwenkfelder hymn collection, bound and scribed by Christoph.

Hoffmann's own title page for his bound Schwenkfelder hymn collection  1760

The title page inside the bound manuscript copy of the 1760 Schwenkfelder hymn collection seen above.

Here’s a little background about Christoph Hoffmann:

As with many German immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, Christoph Hoffman (his English name would be Christopher) became a farmer but his other vocations as a bookbinder, copyist, teacher, and minister left the greatest impact within the Schwenkfelder religious community. As a bookbinder Christoph Hoffmann was involved in many publication projects that helped to sustain the growing Schwenkfelder community in Pennsylvania in the generation following their immigration.

He bound the first printed Schwenkfelder hymnal in 1762 and the 1763 Schwenkfelder catechism. The 1762 Schwenkfelder Gesangbuch, or hymnal, was the first printed Schwenkfelder hymnal used in their community. Prior to this the Schwenkfelders used a hymnal belonging to the Bohemian Brethern religious sect (today the Bohemian Brethern group no longer exists, as they assimilated into the identity of the Moravian Church) in the Czech Republic. The 1763 Schwenkfelder catechism was a compilation of questions, answers, and commentary on Schwenkfelder religion used for study within the Schwenkfelder community. In 1771, Hoffmann was involved in the publication of the Erläuterung known in English as the Vindication of Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig, a publication written by the American Schwenkfelders for German clergy in an effort to exonerate their namesake, Caspar Schwenckfeld, in their European homeland. Christopher hand copied many Schwenkfelder books and was noted for his compilations of his father’s work. His father, Balthasar Hoffmann, was one of the earliest Schwenkfelder ministers in America and a Schwenkfelder hymn writer.

Christoph Hoffmann was a Schwenkfelder who immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1734 with his parents from the small town of Berthelsdorf in Germany. Berthelsdorf was the home of Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a prominent Moravian leader, who provided the Schwenkfelders a safe haven during the years of their persecution by the Jesuit mission and the Lutheran church. Zinzendorf eventually established the Moravian community in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the 1740s. Born in 1727 Hoffmann came to Pennsylvania at age 7 on the St Andrew as part of the largest Schwenkfelder immigration. He settled in Lower Salford, Montgomery County, PA, and eventually married fellow Schwenkfelder Rosina Drescher.

For more on Christopher Hoffmann, join us for:
Christopher Hoffmann, Schwenkfelder Bookbinder, 12-1pm, November 9, 2011
with Hunt Schenkel, Archivist, Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center
Free and open to the public.


About schwenkfelder

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Schwenkfelders and the history of southeastern Pennsylvania and the Perkiomen Region. The Heritage Center offers educational programming and tours, exhibits, workshops, and events throughout the year. Our blog is maintained by museum educator, Rebecca Lawrence, SLHC staff and guest bloggers.
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