Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the The Plan of St. Gall : production materials, 1967-1979
Special Collections M0344  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (162.30 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • The Plan of St. Gall

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: The Plan of St. Gall : production materials,
    Date (inclusive): 1967-1979
    Collection number: Special Collections M0344
    Creator: Horn, Walter William, 1908-
    Extent: 40 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.


    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Born, August 1981 and October 1985, and Lorna Price, 1984.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item] The Plan of St. Gall : production materials, M0344, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Biographical Note

    Walter Horn, born January 18, 1908 in Waldangelloch, Germany, is a distinguished art historian specializing in medieval European art and architecture. In 1938 he began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley where he is now a professor emeritus.
    Ernest Born, born in 1898 in San Francisco, CA, is a professional architect who was also professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, 1953-1957. The authors previously collaborated on THE BARNS OF THE ABBY OF BEAULIEU AT ITS GRANGES OF GREAT COXWELL AND BEAULIEU-ST. LEONARD, University of California Press, 1965.

    Scope and Content

    The collection of production materials for The Plan of St. Gall is composed of materials formerly in the possession of the donors, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Born and Lorna Price. It is composed of A variety of materials representing numerous stages in the production of the three volume work. A great deal of the material is undated. Those which are dated range from 1967, during the early phases of the project, to just prior to publication at the end of 1979. They include research correspondence; corrected typescript; galley, page and reproduction proofs; illustrations, including original drawings, photographic reproductions and negatives, pasteups, cropping and placement instructions, and scales; design and production materials, including layouts, press sheets, studies and proofs for the binding calligraphy and endpapers, and minor miscellaneous materials; publicity and advertising materials; and a certificate of commendation from the University of California Press.
    The collection focuses not on the research which was undertaken to produce the intellectual content of the work but emphasizes the meticulous and exacting process of producing the volumes which present the results of research. Development of the book design may be traced from the designers blueprint schematic layouts, through the interconnected states of planning layouts, page designs and proofs, to the final, unbound signatures. Additional elements of the book arts are represented by the studies and proofs for the binding calligraphy and endpapers. The collection materials also suggest something of the relationships between author, editor, and printer and the interplay required of their respective functions. Even post-press stages are represented by the examples of publicity and advertising and the certificate of commendation.
    Some development of text may be traced through the stages of typescript, galley, page and, finally, reproduction proofs. There are, indeed, many relatively minor but interesting changes which may be followed. Utilizing the finished volumes as an index, the development of an individual page may be traced, problem areas identified, and the judgment of the designer or author observed. It is the design material, however, which provides the more complete illustration of the stages and states involved in a project of this kind and which is the principal strength of the collection.
    Unfortunately, the collection is not complete. Research and correspondence are quite minor. Corrected typescript and proofs are present for each volume, some in several states, but the first state manuscript which was heavily rewritten, is not included. The graphic and design materials are also incomplete, since every drawing or pasteup represented in the finished work is present. The materials included, however, should be considered of especial interest.
    The page layouts in their several forms illustrate Born's concern for and involvement with the most minute details of the design. They are typically covered with annotations and directions for the printer. Handwritten notes are often attached to the individual pages. The layouts may, indeed, have been the principal means of editing during the latter states of the project.
    Born used drawings, pasteups, and a few photo reproductions in illustrating St. Gall. His original drawings are fine examples of his considerable and acknowledged skill as a graphic artist. His pasteups are fascinating examples of the complexity and finesse which can be required in printing illustrations. Most are ingenious composites of several media where details are often highlighted or altered by layers of transparent overlays.
    The miscellaneous series, though small, does contain advertising and publicity materials as well as a certificate of commendation printed by Lawton Kennedy and presented to Czeslaw Jan Grycz from the Press.


    The collection is organized into the following series and subseries; research correspondence; text, consisting of typescript and proofs; illustrations for the text, including drawings, photographic reproductions and negatives, pasteups, crop and placement instructions, and graphic scales; design and production materials, containing layouts in several stages and formats, binding calligraphy studies and proofs, and endpaper studies and proofs; and a small group of miscellaneous items including advertising and publicity materials and a certificate of commendation.
    Materials are, where appropriate, arranged numerically by page or figure number within their series and subseries reflecting their location in the finished volumes. When materials exist in more than one state they are either grouped within that state and labeled, as the galley proofs have been labeled, or they are interfield by page number with the earliest state first. The page proofs and page designs have been arranged in this manner. Because the materials in the collection vary so greatly in size items in the same series may be filed in more than one location. The outline of the collection contents should ease any initial confusion which this may cause. The finished volumes themselves act as an index for accessing the collection and should be used to locate specific pages and/or illustrations.

    The Plan of St. Gall

    On Christmas Day 1979 the University of California Press published Walter Horn and Ernest Born's The Plan of St. Gall after a fifteen year gestational period. The three volume work, subtitled a study of the architecture and economy of, and life in a paradigmatic Carolingian monastery, is based on the early ninth century parchment known as the Plan of St. Gall, one of the great cultural and historical documents of Western civilization. Possibly the sole surviving architectural drawing between late antiquity and the Gothic period, it was to influence both secular and monastic design and construction for centuries. The Plan itself is a ninth century schematic groundplan, traced in red ink on a 30.5" × 44" sheet of vellum, delineating an ideal Carolingian monastic complex. Inscriptions in brown ink identify the functions of each building in the drawing. A dedicatory inscription informs the reader that the Plan was drawn at the request of Abbot Gozbert, abbot of the monastery of St. Gall from 816 to 836. A national treasure, the Plan now rests in the Stiftsbibliothek, St. Gall, Switzerland.
    The product of the intellectual elite of the Age of Charlemagne and part of a general movement of monastic reform in the ninth century, the Plan depicts as a groundplan an ideal, autonomous monastic community. Most likely a ninth century copy of a document produced by the two synods held at Aachen in 816 and 817, it was not intended to represent a single, specific monastic complex. Rather, the Plan was meant to act as a prototypic model and planning guide. Adaptations for individual site characteristics were undoubtedly necessary and anticipated by the designers. It almost certainly provided the form for the ninth century reconstruction of the abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland in whose library the original plan now rests.
    The Plan was first and foremost the materialization of a utopian vision of an efficient, liturgically sound, productive, and self-perpetuating community of individuals. It was, according to the authors, a fully transferable building plan, intended to not only standardize monastic architecture and community planning but to also participate in the general reform of the Benedictine Rule encouraged by Charlemagne. Horn and Born maintain that the Plan provides a remarkable illustration of the drive toward a linguistic, religious, and political unity sought in the Carolingian age. They summerize the artifact by stating that it gathers, as in a lens, an image of the whole of Carolingian life.
    The Plan has itself been the subject of some controversy since it's rediscovery by Henricus Canisius in 1604. In 1844 the first published interpretation of the buildings was attempted in a monograph by Ferdinand Keller. Keller's study and subsequent ones by Robert Willis (1848), Albert Lenoir (1852), and Leclerq (1924) were neither free of error or omissions, but represent the beginning of a profound and lasting fascination which the Plan has held for medievalists in many disciplines.
    The authors subjected both the Plan itself and contemporary evidence to intense examination and analysis, focusing not only on the possible physical natures of the structures delineated by the groundplan, but also on their probable functions and underlying cultural, religious, and sociological bases. Their reconstruction of the complex is thus both intellectual and visual, philosophical and physical.
    Their work presents not only a possible reconstruction of the monastic structures, but also of the monastic economy -- the daily, indeed hourly, activities which took place within those structures. Proportional principles manifested in the St. Gall plan are emphasized by the inclusion of an appendix by A. Hunter Dupree, The Significance of the Plan of St. Gall to the History of Measurement. The authors also include a section devoted to three important translations. The first is a translation and paleographic analysis by Bernard Bischoff of the explanatory inscriptions on the Plan itself, calligraphic inscriptions which reveal the probable scriptorial origin of the ninth century copy. The second and third are translations by Charles W. Jones of two monastic management manuals: the brief Constitution of Ansegis, Abbot of Fontanella (823-833); and the Consuetudines Corbeienses by Abbot Adalhard of Corbie (753-826), a treatise on administration so learned and profound that it's counterparts in the secular world would Have been found only in the highest levels of government at the Imperial court.
    Both the authors and editor came to the St. Gall project with backgrounds and experience which permitted a successful collaboration. Walter Horn, (1908-), was born in Waldangelloch, Germany and studied art history at the universities of Heidelberg, Berlin, and Hamburg between 1926 and 1933. Between 1934 and 1937 he was a postdoctoral research associate at the German Institute of Art in Florence. A student of Erwin Panofsky, Horn has described his own scholarly life as a long preoccupation with processes of cultural transformation deriving from interaction of classical concepts with northern elements in medieval art. Leaving Germany in 1938, he was invited to teach at the University of California, Berkeley. He remained at Berkeley as professor of art history until 1974, taking time out to serve in the U.S. Army from 1944-1946. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, he has continued to retain his connection with the university as professor emeritus.
    Ernest Born, (1898-), was born in San Francisco and studied architecture at U.C. Berkeley under John Galen Howard. After a years travel in Europe on scholarship, part of which was spent at the American School of Fountainebleau, he returned to New York and worked for the distinguished architects Gehron and Ross, and Arthur Loomis Harmon. He also worked on special projects with Corbett, Harrison and McMurray. During the 1930s he worked as art director for the Architectural Record and later served on the editorial staff of Architectural Forum. Born returned to San Francisco in the late 30s, established his own practice, and from 1939 to 1940 worked on numerous buildings and design problems for the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island. Spending the war years in Manaus, Brazil, he worked with architect Gardner Dailey. After World War II he resumed his practice and from 1953 to 1957 was Professor of Architecture at U.C. Berkeley. During this period he designed additions and alterations to the Greek Theatre on the Berkeley campus and began his long and productive relationship with Walter Horn. During the 1960s he also served as a consultant to the Bay Area Rapid Transit district. He has served on the San Francisco Art Commission under several mayors and has been the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship as well as other honors.
    Like the authors, editor Lorna Price has also had a long association with U.C. Berkeley. A background in art history led her to the University and to the Press where as an editor she acquired considerable experience and expertise in dealing with scholarly works. Prior to St. Gall, she had also edited several other volumes in the California Studies in the History of Art series. Price was, therefore, well acquainted with Walter Horn before beginning work on the St. Gall project. In addition to her work for the Press she has edited numerous exhibition catalogs for both the University Art Museum and other museums, and authored The Plan of St. Gall in Brief, (1982) an overview of the finished three volumes. Price was editor in 1983 of the U.C. Press serial, Representations, and remains a liaison with the Press. She currently resides in Washington and is Senior Editor, History of Art Department, U.C. Berkeley.
    The collaboration between these individuals was very close on all necessary to frequently revise their research needs as new lines of thought, new areas of research, and the implications of their own investigations presented themselves. In 1967 they submitted a 1000 page manuscript with some preliminary artwork to the Press. The next thirteen years were occupied with revisions and all the complexities and minutiae involved in the design and printing of a fine pressing of this size and scope.
    Points of divergent opinion concerning the Plan are, as in any field, numerous. Those which seem to have attracted the most attention appear to focus on 1) the origins of the Plan itself as an artifact, 2) whether the Plan was a schematic diagram or a true building plan, 3) the importance of the document for questions concerning the history of medieval vernacular construction, 4) the relationship of the Plan to the monastic reform movements of the ninth century, 5) the derivation and true nature of specific design elements in specific structures, and, 6) perhaps most importantly, the Plan's dimensional inconsistencies and presumptive scale (or `scales').
    Horn and Born have examined these issues and more throughout the three volumes of the work. They never intended to silence all controversy, and impossible task in any case. They have, however, argued their positions most persuasively. The paleographic analysis of the inscriptions and the revelations they make concerning the authorship and origins of the document seem to have satisfied many in the field. The authors have also convincingly argued that the Plan is not only a schematic, but is a true, transferable building plan, drawn to a consistant scale, intended to guide construction and establish norms for monastic planning. Spiro Kostof, in his review of the work, believes that this is Horn's great contribution to the scholarship of the plan. The authors also illustrate the acceptance and persistance in Western monastic construction during the succeeding centuries of the standards established in the Plan.
    In addition to these findings other major contributions made by the work are considered to be 1) the reconstruction of the buildings aspects of the project. Communication within the group was almost daily, either in person or by telephone. Horn and Price did, in fact, share office space for some time in the art history department at Berkeley. Horn remained largely responsible for the text while Born concentrated on the supporting illustrations and design of the volumes. Price worked closely with both authors who frequently praise her skills and efforts both publically, in the finished volumes, and in their private correspondence.
    Impetus for the project originated in 1957 with work undertaken by Horn on the development of the medieval timbered hall. Horn was also known within the scholarly community to have long had an especial interest in the Plan of St. Gall. In 1963 he was approached by Dr. Wolfgang Braunfels with the project of designing and constructing a scale model based on the Plan for the 1965 Council of Europe exhibition Karl der Grosse in Aachen. Architect Ernest Born, who had been working jointly with Horn since 1960, jointed the project, collaborating and executing drawings illustrating Horn's findings and working with Carl Bertil Lund and Siegfried Karshunke on the scale model. Horn and Born had, in fact, been working for some time together on material concerning Northern European vernacular architecture and thus on questions directly related to the Plan of St. Gall. A significant amount of research later utilized in the three volumes had, in fact, been collected for and presented in their Barns of the Abbey of Beaulieu at Its Granges of Great Coxwell and Beaulieu-St. Leonards (1965).
    Stimulated by the investigation initiated for Aachen, the authors continued their work and found that, as is so often the case in research, more questions were generated than conclusions developed. Horn and Born have both been known for a scrupulous attention to detail and catholic methods of research. As work proceeded they found it delineated on the Plan, particularly the non-claustral structures, according to Horn's findings in the field of Northern European vernacular architectue, 2) the detailed reconstruction and illuminatin of the daily activities within the monastic complex and it's relationship to the contemporary reform movements, and 3) the profound influence on the Plan of the principals of square schematism, a modular, pythagorean system of design native to Northern European timber cnstruction, which the authors maintain is the intrinsic and guiding principle in the document. The work graphically illustrates Horn's theory that the Germanic timber house is the natural source for the aisled bay system in Carolingian and later medieval churches. This is in opposition to the previously dominant theory of a purely Mediterranean source. Kostof maintains that this thesis is a major contribution to architectural history and one of the most important offering of this extraordinary book.
    When the authors originally conceived of the project they estimated that it would require approximately three to four years to complete. It was originally presented to and accepted by the Press on this basis. The extent of the difficulties awaiting to be encountered, difficulties which would eventually lengthen the production time to fifteen years, were not anticipated. The project had a number of characteristics which initially favored it's publication by the U.C. Press. Horn's reputation in this field of study was considerable. He had also successfully collaborated previously with Ernest Born on similar material. Horn had also virtually established the Department of the History of Art at U.C. Berkeley as well as founding and acting as general editor of the series of which St. Ga.. is a part, California Studies in the History of Art. The work was clearly a natural choice for inclusion in the series.
    The St. Gall project was, however, to be beset by delays, conflicts between the authors and the publishers, and financing difficulties which were continually acerbated by the ever-rising costs inevitable for a project, originally budgeted for three to four years, which eventually required fifteen. Horn and Born periodically wrote articles on various aspects of the Plan which informed the art community of its progress. Seven were published between 1965 and 1979. But completion of the major work continued at its own pace, plagued with its own difficulties.
    The unforeseen expansion of the St. Gall project caused considerable concern at the Press throughout it's history. Numerous attempts were made by Press administration to either restrict the size and scope or contain the expansion of the work but the author resisted the attempts. Conflicts rose, were resolved, and redeveloped. Tempers flared, subsided, then flared again. The struggle to maintain the original vision of the project was constant.
    The project was also somewhat singular in that the authors assumed far more control over the production of the work than is usually found in publishing. The traditional lines of responsibility were decidedly altered. This was particularly true concerning the design of the volumes which was almost entirely dominated by Born. Conflicts rose quite early in the project from these perceived territorial annexations and were to continue through it's latter stages.
    Funding was a major, continual problem. Support was solicited from private individuals, foundations such as the Zellerbach Fund, Pro Helvetia, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, as well as from the Swiss government. The project has been estimated to have finally cost the Press approximately half a million dollars and to have spanned two generations of Press management. August Fruge was Director of the Press when the project was first accepted and Conrad Mollath, Manager of Production. Fruge retired in 1978 but appointed Czeslaw Jan Grycz to succeed the retiring Mollath as Manager before he left. James Clark was soon appointed new Director of the Press.
    Type for the publication was set principally by William Clowes, Ltd., London, with additional work by Halle-Cordes, San Francisco, as the project neared completion. The books were printed by Southeastern Printing Company, whose president, Leo Hussey, acted as a technical consultant along with the noted printer, Charles Wood. George Waters, well known for his expertise in photolithography, assisted with the preparation of the graphics. Further details concerning the production may be found in Born's extensive and revealing colophon in volume III.
    The Plan of St. Gall was almost immediately labeled a classic and praised not only as an exceptional piece of scholarship, but also as a superlative example of the book arts. Eight major awards were received for scholarship, bookmaking, and typography. In 1982 the authors also received a medal from the American Institute of Architects given to individuals or organizations for specific projects related to architecture.
    Francois Bucher, in his review of the work in the March 1981 issue of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, maintained that Horn and Born offered the first conclusive insights into the St. Gall plan published in English. Spiro Kostof, in his Art Bulletin review of June 1981, provided what is, perhaps, the best expression of the general professional reaction to the finished volumes. He described the publication as a mountainous work of wisdom and beauty that should galvanize medieval studies and set up a glowing paradigm for what architectural history can be, visually and intellectually. Kostof labeled the work a triumph of bookmaking, noting in his review that the quality of it's design has already been compared to William Morris's `Kelmscott Chaucer' of 1844 and Oxford's `Lectern Bible' of 1936. Higher praise for book design could hardly be made.