Glanzbilder and the Pulls of Nostalgia / by Uschi Jeffcoat

The pulls of nostalgia are so sweet and strong.  And they hit at the most unexpected times. These gems below are Glanzbilder or Lackbilder. They are part of my childhood memories but something I had forgotten. This December I spied them in a favorite shop in Germany. It's a tiny stationary/magazine shop that feeds my German pen and paper obsession. When I saw these, I knew I had to buy them.

Glanzbilder are used in Poesiealbums. Poesiealbums are a form of autograph/friendship book. I had one as a child. It was white, with a kitten on the front cover.  Poesiealbums were shared with your friends, relatives and teachers. They then would pen a favorite line of prose, poetry or quotation with a message to you, followed by a signature. Looking back I believe this is such an art form! When I presented mine to my elementary school American friends, I think they confused it a bit with a yearbook signature.


My German friends and family approached it differently. To them it was a place to mark how beautiful a person was to you -  In a creative and literary manner, not a first person L.L.A.S note with a Ziggy drawing.  I love how this album captured my personal dichotomy of growing up in two cultures. I love them both for different reasons. (For example, I wanted BOTH a bed with a German down comforter folded in half -like the German do - but also an American rainbow canopy bed set with matching bedskirt. Sadly, I could never marry the two forms of bedding effectively.)

Back to Poesiealbums - One or two of these little Glanzbilder would be added to the page, paired with words of significance. Often the Glanzbilder have a touch of glitter. Who doesn't love a bit of sparkle?

The internet tells me that these albums originally stem from the practice of recording close friends and coat of arms in family trees during the 16th century. The 18th century saw quotations and illustrations added to these notations. By the 19th century, members of literary circles began circulating notebooks of sorts to capture the same. The more commercial forms ofPoesiealbums and Glanzbilder appeared in the 20th century. This website has a few images of Poesiealbum entries.


Because this represents such timeless treasure and charm, I wanted to create a few items featuring these fascinating Glanzbilder. So I've had a very playful and experimental week. I've made cards and a series of mini gold leaf paintings. If you are interested in seeing them in person, I'm delighted that a selection of the mini paintings and cards will be available at TThomas Arts next week.


„... und reißt mir keine Blätter raus, sonst ist es mit der Freundschaft aus ...“