Item #4570 Reinhold Forkel's Autobiography [caption title]. Reinhold Forkel.
Reinhold Forkel's Autobiography [caption title]
Reinhold Forkel's Autobiography [caption title]

Reinhold Forkel's Autobiography [caption title]

[N.p., but probably New York: ca. 1935]. [118] leaves of typescript printed on rectos only, plus a photographic frontispiece, three plates (one folding), and color manuscript map. Contemporary stiff card covers, tan leather backstrip, with a cyanotype of the author laid under a chipped clear acetate dust jacket. One other cyanotype laid in. Some wear and abrading to edges, rather clean internally. Very good. Item #4570

A homemade autobiographical production by an obscure German-American artist active in New Jersey and New York in the first few decades of the 20th century. Reinhold Forkel (1879-1947) was born in Mittelberg, a German village he locates on the "southern slope of Thuringia" near Coburg in Upper Franconia on the manuscript map he produced here. Forkel gives information about his education, which included ten years in public schools followed by thirty-eight months at the Industrial College of Schalkau, where he earned a reputation as a talented artist. Following his schooling, Forkel worked in the Thuringia Flag Factory and served two years in the German Army, stationed at Thuringia. While in the Army he met an American girl, who had been on stage in America, singing and dancing in comic operas, Broadway, and performing on the road; the two fell in love. As a result, Forkel immigrated to the United States after he is honorably discharged from the Army in 1901.

Upon his arrival in America, his girlfriend was late to greet the boat and missed his arrival, but the couple somehow spotted each other later that day while walking on Broadway in the middle of New York City. They married a year later after Forkel has worked in the pattern shop at a stove factory in Albany and then briefly for the New York Central Car Department, first as a trimmer then as a woodcarver. Forkel worked the next four years as a sculptor and modeler, first for De Kosenko Manufacturing Company in Philadelphia, then the Sterling Bronze Company in NYC, and then returned to work for eight years as designer, wood carver, and cabinet maker for New York Central Car Department in West Albany. Forkel resigned from that job in 1914 and then began work as an Instructor in woodworking at the School of Industrial Arts in Trenton, New Jersey. Forkel remained at the New Jersey school for the next thirty years but devotes only a few pages of the narrative portion to that part of his life. Most of the last half of the manuscript is comprised of reproductions of the texts of various letters, tributes, articles, and so forth by or about Forkel, much of it from his time at the New Jersey School of Industrial Arts.

Forkel's autobiographical text is supplemented by a handful of visual items. These include the aforementioned map of Mittelburg, Coburg, Germany, the area in which Forkel spent his youth; Forkel drew the map himself and dates its production to 1935. Two cyanotype photographs are also present here, one featuring Forkel at work in a sculpture studio and another of his finished statue; both photographs are signed by him. The three plates include two printed Forkel family crests (one large and folded into the work) and a photograph of a bas relief of a religious scene apparently produced by Forkel, as his printed caption reads, "Dream. 'Vision' I had the same night my father died." The work is rounded out by an oval-shaped portrait photograph of Forkel which he signs, "Professor Reinhold Forkel."

An attractive and homespun autobiography of a noted German American immigrant artist. Apparently a unique production, and never published.

Price: $850.00