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Random thoughts from a passionate bookplate collector.

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    Let's start with two interesting Emails I received. 
    The First one came from Guillermo Morán Dauchez.

    "Having seen your blog 'Confessions of...' I have taken the liberty of writing you this mail, hoping that it will not bother you.

    My name is Guillermo Morán, I am from Spain. I am considering starting an ex-libris collection, since I both love books (as literature recipients and as objects) and graphic arts and printmaking. 

    I already have  some  and, besides, I have done some as a self taught aficionado printmaker, mostly for me, some for friends or relatives. Would you have the kindness to take a brief look at the scans I attach to this mail and tell me if you think they are worthy enough to be proposed  for being exchanged with other collectors? May they even interest you?

    Any advice or comment would be warmly welcome, specially negative ones, that are always more useful than compliments.

    As you can see, they are linocuts (x3), excepted the last one I did: a drypoint (c4), aimed to depict Achilles. Those are the two techniques I use, although I'm starting to practice with mezzotint.

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Guillermo Morán Dauchez

    This was part of my response

    Would you like me to feature your bookplates on my blog ?
    If so, can you send me a paragraph or two about yourself.
    If you have a recent photo of yourself send me a scan.
    It is not necessary to do so but photos tend to increase readership.
    I use a Dragonfly bookplate designed by Daniel Mitsui.
    Would you like to exchange one of your Kipling plates for one of my
    Dragonfly plates ?

                                                     I received a reply quickly

    Dear Lewis Jaffe,

    I'm very thankful to you, both for your answer and for having shared my mail with your friends. Mr. Schimmelpfeng has already contacted me, proposing some exchange.

    I would be glad to exchange one of my Kipling's for one of your dragonfly's. I Had already seen it as it is quite popular on the Internet and found it an awesome plate, not only for the general aspect but also for the exquisite lettering and that  detailed background. The Kipling's is, as I told you, a linocut print, with two plates, printed with Charbonell Aquawash Etching Ink on Fabriano 'Rosaspina' paper (200gr/m2).
     It was made for my son, Mateo, who always enjoyed a my wife reading 'The Book of the Jungle'.
    at bed time
     Unfortunately I will not be able to post it to you before September, the 14th, as I won't be home until then, but I will do on that day. I assume you want it to be send to the postal address at the end of your mail. Mine is:

    Note From Lew- I have omitted the postal mailing address for reasons of privacy and have also done some minor editing. You can contact Guillermo Morán Dauchez. at this Email address:

    I also would be very happy to be featured in your blog. As a  I was born in France in 1978, but always have lived in Spain. I studied History at the University of Valladolid, and received my Ph. D. in Prehistory and Archaeology. I work as an archivist in Seville. I have always been interested in drawing and painting and  I started printmaking four or five years ago. I do linocuts and drypoints. and woodcuts .I'm also training myself in mezzotint: 
    Literature is one of my major interests, and my interest for ex libris is the link between my love for books and my love for graphic arts.Actually I 'designed' (so to say)  my 1st ex lirbis when I was 7. My parents commissioned  an office rubber stamp from a tiny hedgehog I had drawn as  a birthday present for me. I still use it.

    After that, I did no more until recently. I now want to start a collection, so I created some Ex Libris for myself, friends and relatives, in order to exchange them with collectors, which is my principal aim,. Nonetheless I would  gladly listen to any small commission proposals..


    Guillermo Morán Dauchez.

    The Second Email came from Chris Wasshuber

    Lew, what are the motivations for somebody to use a bookplate? Most book
    lovers, collectors and readers I know do not use bookplates.


    Quite frankly, I was at a loss to come up with a good answer but this is how I responded:

    Dear Chris,
       Most book lovers ,collectors and readers I know do use bookplates..
    I am at a loss to  give a clear and precise answer to your provocative
    In part it has to do with pride of ownership, and maintaining  a sense of
    continuity with the past.
    The last time I had a similar befuddlement was about fifteen years ago when
    a client asked me why I collect..

    I  will post your inquiry on my blog to see if someone else can come up with a
    better answer.

    If you wish to add your own response  send it  to

    9/6/2015 First Response-Thank you Gordon

    Dear Lew,
    I could not resist answering this!
    Why Would Anyone Use A Bookplate?

    In response to a question recently posed to Lew Jaffe:

    “what are the motivations for somebody to use a bookplate? Most book lovers, collectors and readers I know do not use bookplates.”

    I thought I might answer by telling why I am commissioned to make them. Generally I have three kinds of client:

    •              institutions/collections,

    •              life “milestone” celebrants

    •              those that consider their books an intimate part of their lives.

    The first group is quite straightforward, literally a library stamp, but one designed with an identifying aesthetic way beyond formal utility. The books belong there and they are cared about!

    The other two types usually share a desire for some kind of biography or personal motif, with a relevant symbolism developed for each particular piece. Often there is a sense of tradition, sometimes a lineage of family plates, sometimes a life milestone to celebrate.

    The second group of “celebrants” have a desire to illustrate and commemorate an event or stage of life. Graduation, inauguration, attainment, ordination , heritage, there are so many things to mark.  Bookplates are an Art form available for this, it could be as easily be a video, a portrait or a sculpture, but Ex Libris is much less formal, less ostentatious and integrates easily into their daily life, a constant presence.

    The third group go beyond this. Often they are collectors and this is the Art Form they collect. Here there may be a desire to illustrate and display their ownership of a volume, a sort of pictorial threshold blurring the edge between their life and art, the art being in this case literature. But it is usually and simply a particular sense of aesthetic.

    My continuous use of the word desire is perhaps a clue to why most plates are commissioned; a “senseless act of beauty” being motivation enough?

    Gordon Collett

    9/6/2015 Second Response- Thank you Guillermo

    Concerning the question  about why readers and book lovers do not use plates , I would say that sometimes they do not know that these items exist.  Personalized plates designed and printed by artists/craftsmen are unknown to many young people, even  educated individuals.
    That's only a personal perception, not that I have seriously studied the question.

    Free Bookplate

    I have sorted through a collection which contained many bookplates from Ohio residents.
    Among them were 10 copies of this bookplate.If you would like a copy send me an email with your postal mailing address.

    The previous owner made this notation:
    "Bishop's helm ,resurrection cross,Christian fish (Note tail makes A.A. symbol if turned sideways)
    Mr. Bishop is a member of A.A. which means a lot to him and therefore he included a double A symbol. The 21st. century robo-mouse is reminiscent of the tiny mice that monks would incorporate
     in illuminations "
    Note from Lew-The bookplate was designed by Charles Bishop Jr. who to the best of my knowledge is still an active bookseller and writer whose specialty is Alcoholics Anonymous.
    For additional information about him follow this link:

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Upcoming Book Show

    The Brooklyn Book Show takes place on September 19th and 20th.I will be attending on September 19th.If you have bookplates for sale or trade and please contact me.

    Here is a link with show information:

    Information about Exhibit and Lectures  in Ohio Sent by Daniel Mitsui

    From Daniel Mitsui

    I received a kind invitation from Franciscan University in Steubenville to exhibit my artwork on campus. The show opens on Monday 14 September; that evening at 7:00, I shall deliver a lecture in the Gentile Gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

    On the evening of Wednesday, 16 September, I am scheduled to speak at the Young Adults’ Group meeting at Old St. Mary Church in Cincinnati. Adoration and prayer begin at 7:00; my talk will follow. This, too, is free and open to the public.

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     Many years ago  I had a brief telephone conversion with Dr. Samuel Radbill.
    .His name came up often when I asked book dealers about  collectors in Philadelphia
     He asked a simple question : Would you like to build a world class collection ? I answered  affirmatively and he said It's very simple just live longer than the other collectors..
     Several years later he died and I attended an auction  sale of 18th century bookplates from his  collection I purchased some remarkable plates including an Engraved Thomas Penn plate printed by  Ben Franklin .
    -Ref Benjamin Franklin's Philadelphia Printing by C. William Miller P.39

    Now it won't be long before I am 79 years old and an increasing number of collector friends are.sending their collections to auction houses.

    It is my hope that this collaborative undertaking will help others (and myself)  weigh carefully the options they have and shed some light on on what is a major decision.
    My own thinking is still some what muddled. I could take the path of least resistance and do absolutely nothing.but that would be a big mistake. My heirs would not have a clue about what to do with the collection .. As strange as it may sound I know of several collections that wound up in dumpsters..
    Several years ago I began sorting my collection.. Some portions are sorted by artist, some by categories such as famous people , angling,theatrical, Judaica etc. This will facilitate the eventual sale in more manageable lots that can be be directed to specific audiences.

    Because it is easy to do and pleasurable I frequently print out biographical information about the owners..I think this adds to the value of the collection and facilitates cataloging .

    Normally, I publish short articles This posting is different..
    It is quite long. I hope it is thought provoking enough to stimulate further discussion.

    The following article originally appeared in The Bookplate Journal

    Volume1 Number 1 March 1983


    Professor William E. Butler

    In 1937 Clara T. Evans and Carlyle S. Baer published a census of institutional bookplate collections in the United States.  It listed dozens of collections scattered in public libraries or universities, colleges, institutes, and galleries throughout the land, the great majority of them presented or bequeathed by private collectors.  Although there is no comparable census for the United Kingdom, such preliminary data as we have suggests an analogous pattern of beneficence.  No Anglo-American institution to my knowledge, however, actively augment through exchange or purchase the bookplate collection(s) which they hold.  Most collections may be consulted for reference purposes, and in a few cases the collection is drawn upon for exhibitions.  The vast majority if institutional collections have no published catalogues the magnificent exception being the Frank Collection in The British Museum. Whose three volume catalogue remains the most fundamental reference work on Anglo-American bookplates up to 1900.  In short, most bookplate collections presented to institutions cease to become living collections.  Unlike the book or graphic art holding, they rarely enjoy an acquisitions budget and virtually never have a curator knowledgeable about bookplates and in a position to enlarge or upgrade the bookplate collection.

                The alternative is to sell the collection.  Modern collectors cannot hope to amass even a medium-sized collection purely by exchange.  Earlier material especially is most likely to be obtained through the acquisition of another collection.  A small collection these days is up to 15,000 plates: medium-size c. 15-50,000: large collection is excess of 50,000.  Some collectors, most notably the late Horace Jones and Mr. & Mrs. Tom Owen in England, have directed that their bookplates be dispersed to other collectors.

                The sale of a small collection normally presents few difficulties.  Although to the best of my knowledge only two book dealer in the United Kingdom (James L. Wilson and Nigel Burwood)* and none in the United States regularly stock bookplates, many book dealers will purchase small collections.  Auction houses too will be prepared to sell collection as a whole, and occasionally do, but gone are the days when an entire auction is gives over to individual plates.  Medium and large collection are another matter entirely.  If sold intact, their size narrows the field of prospective purchasers dramatically, and, if broken down, poses formidable lotting and description problems for the vendor.  A knowledgeable collector might overcome these obstacles by lotting or arranging the materials himself.  Rarely is such foresight encountered.  The Bookplate Society often is asked to assist in the disposal of collection and gladly does so without charge.

                These reflections are prompted by the disposition during 1982 of one large and two medium-sized collections.  Each raised interesting considerations for the vendor and purchaser which we believe to be of general concern.

    The Harold Mortlake Collection

    Many readers will recall that in the “good old days” Harold Mortlake’s antiquarian bookshop in Cecil Court was one of the few places in Britain which regularly offered bookplates for sale.  A few plates in the window, including a Harrison copper-engraving, enticed one in to page through some well-worn albums with plates individually priced.  Behind the shop stock lay a substantial personal collection amassed over many years which Mortlake ultimately offered, as he did many of the book collection that he formed, en bloc together with 193 books and pamphlets. 

                The bookplates and books had been thoroughly inventoried and classified.  Of the 28,000 bookplates, some 16,000 were British, and of the latter nearly a quarter were die sinkers.  The plates were grouped into categories: armorials, Chippendale, garter, urns, bookpiles, libraries, seals, clubs, and institutions, medical, ermines, ovals, pictorials armorials, pictorial, armorials with supporters, military, Irish, Jacobean, ladies, authors, individual artists, prize labels, monograms, and more.  Most plates were mounted on single sheets of headed paper containing brief annotation: the names of owner, designer, engrave, and Franks number when relevant.  The foreign plates were simply grouped by country, with a few outstanding continental artists kept separately.

                For various reasons, not least the element of duplication, four London collectors decided to purchase the collection as a syndicate and divide it among themselves.  A price was agreed and the entire collection moved to a central London site for distribution, an awesome exercise which might in its execution easily have sorely tested the friendship of those involved.  In fact, it proved to be enormously enjoyable and provided an absorbing diversion for several long evenings without any cross words.  The recipe for success was complementary collecting interests and equitable canons for distribution rigorously observed.

                The books were dealt with first.  The vendor supplied a complete list of titles to which one syndicate member assigned notional prices for distribution.  The other syndicate members reviewed and agreed the prices.  The books were laid out on tables: lots were chosen to see who should have first choice- the others following in alphabetical order, and the prices of books selected in this way, the other half to be sold.  The cost to each member at this stage was the total of the books selected plus a quarter of the value of the remainder.  The amount received for the latter, when eventually sold, was divided among the members equally.

                The syndicate members each entered the arrangement with certain preferences for material, but exposure to a new range of plates served in all instances to broaden their taste.  “Royals” were sought after generally.  One member with a larger general collection concentrated on plates he lacked, leaving much material to the others.  Fine plates of all periods and countries grew in appeal.  As light relief from the hours of serious selection, the members worked through the die sinker volumes individually, pulling those plates that seemed worth considering separately.  The same procedure was followed for the 12,000 continental plates, again pulling out those that appealed.  The quality of the continental plates was much lower in general, but a few by Zetti, Severin, Rueter, von Bayros, Sattler, and other contemporary engraves made the effort worthwhile.

    The Arthur Brauer Collection

    By Lukavsky, Jaroslav

                In early summer 1982 it become known that a continental collection of about 30,000 bookplates was available in England.  Formed by the late Dr. Arthur Brauer in Germany, the collection had first been offered to the Exlibriscentrum in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, without success.  Those who viewed the collection were enormously impressed with its quality.  Dr. Brauer had collected by artist and chosen carefully.  The sale was being arranged through book dealers in southern England.  The initial asking price was extremely high.  In the course of the summer various individuals were offered the collection at a gradually diminishing price, the ultimate purchaser, A.K. Pincott, acquiring the collection for about 40% of what originally was asked.  The bulk of the collection consisted of twentieth-century Western and Eastern continental European material, especially from the period 1900-30.

    The Margaret Woodbury Strong Collection

    Margaret Woodbury Strong

    On 17 May 1982 Swann Galleries Inc. in New York announced that they had been appointed to dispose of the Strong Bookplate Collection on behalf of the Pierpont Morgan Library- “one of the world’s largest collections of bookplates.”  Margaret Woodbury Strong (1897-1969) was a passionate collector.  Toys, miniatures, shells, marbles, a superlative doll-house collection, buttons, china, door knobs, inkwell, paperweights, vases, smoking pipes, shaving mugs, valentines, trade cards and more were assembled on grand scale and bequeathed with a stunning endowment (in excess of $60 million) to form the nucleus of a “museum of fascination” in Rochester, New York.  After thirteen years of planning, the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum opened officially on 12 October 1982 in sumptuous purpose-built premises designed to exploit to the utmost the educational and research dimensions of the collections.  The bookplates did not pass to the Museum.  They were willed separately with capital sum to the Pierpont Morgan Library and a request that the Library expend the sum to provide facilities for the better care and display of bookplates.

                Although Mrs. Strong grew up in a family of connoisseur-collectors and began herself to collect at a precocious age, the massive holdings (300,000 objects) which comprise the core of the Museum in Rochester were acquired late in life, from 1958 to 1969.  Bookplates were, however, an early and sustained interest.  Her bookplate collection commenced c. 1907 when a University lecturer presented his personal bookplate to her during a transatlantic voyage.  Eventually she was given part of the bookplate collection formed by her favourite aunt.  She was a member of the American Society of bookplate collectors from 1935 until her death.  The true size of the Strong Collection is unclear.  Accounts published in 1969 indicated a collection of about 86,000 plates.  The Swan figure of c. 150,000 plates was an estimate based on random sample; the discrepancy may represent duplicate and unaccessioned material.

                A full account of the Collection will be given when there has been sufficient opportunity to study it.  Preliminary observation suggest that the collection was assembled with devotion by way of exchange and especially by the acquisition of other collections.  Most of the bookplates are Anglo-American pre-1945, with substantial representation of A.N MacDonald, Sidney L. Smith, E.D. French, C.W. Sherborn, G.W. Eve, and a sprinkling of other artists of the period.  There are modest but excellent holdings of older continental plates, including a handful of fifteenth-century plates, although the celebrated rarities seem not to have been represented.  Twentieth-century continental European material forms a small percentage of the collection, but there are some choice Japanese examples.  In some cases Mrs. Strong was content to collect the illustrations of bookplates in place of the plate itself.

                The plates were organized by artist, subject, or country, elaborately sorted into labelled files, often with clippings, correspondence, checklists, or monographs about the artist.  A sizable card-index of the plates was maintained; all the cards were painstakingly hand written, and some incorporated data about the provenance of the plate.  The bookplates alone took up some twenty four-drawer filing cabinets, plus another ten cabinets of collateral material.  Accompanying the bookplates were some 250 reference books and about 150 volumes of multiple copies, sometimes reflecting special copies or bindings, but often simply identical examples, usually in superlative condition.  The present writer spent five hours viewing the collection, yet so immense was the volume of material that only the most general impression could be obtained.

                What induced the Pierpont Morgan Library to part with the Strong Collection is not a matter of public record.  For any institution, however, the proper sorting and cataloguing of the collection would have posed insuperable problems.  It was in the end a collector’s collection, inadequately processed for institutional use by its owner, and beyond the reasonable capacities by virtue of its size for any institution to assume the responsibility of processing.  Even the reference collection, invaluable as it was, is as remarkable for the materials not present as it is for those that are.  To their everlasting credit, the Pierpont Morgan Library instructed that if possible the Collection should be sold intact and not broken up at auction.  That object was realized.  The Collection passes for another generation of study, increase, and cataloguing to the source from whence it all originated, a University Professor.

                This returns us to the original concerns voiced at the outset of these reflections.  The Strong Collection one might have supposed met all the criteria for disposition into institutional hands: a substantial accumulation of plates reasonably concentrated on particular countries and periods; a capital sum to help care for the collection; and a distinguished institution to have custody over the collection.  The capital sum (reportedly $60,000) would have been inadequate even in 1969 to prepare and produce a catalogue of the collection, without which its use would have been impossible, irrespective of the best institutional will toward the Collection.  Collectors would do well to consider carefully the implications of leaving bookplates in institutional hands and to ensure that, one way or another, the collection will by their own efforts or devices or the recipient institution’s receive the care and access that the bookplates deserve.  Bookplates can place burdens on and open vistas for institutions that other kinds of collections do not.  Ignoring these is likely to lead to frustration of the donor’s most cherished intentions.

    Notes from Lew- The  images  were not in the original article.
    *James Wilson died several years ago but Nigel Burwood is still active.

    From Anthony Pincott

    The clock may be ticking, and one may increasingly suffer the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, but perpetual sleep is not yet for me a consummation devoutly to be wished. Nor do I desire at present to fix in print what could eventually happen to my collection. I recognise that both a collector and his family are poorly served if an individual with such specialist knowledge leaves to his heirs the task of turning treasured and often hard fought-for items into cash. However, the trouble with disposing of a collection during one’s lifetime is that it is no longer available for reference, and for as long as I retain my faculties I want to keep researching bookplates. Having one’s own collection readily to hand is an important stimulus to, and resource for, research and writing. For example, Brian North Lee’s ability to write so extensively, was based not only upon a thorough knowledge of bookplate literature but also of bookplates, often scarce examples, in the Levine and other collections he acquired.

    From Larry Conklin

    Dear Lew,

    First of all, the bookselling/book collecting public needs to be made aware of exactly what a bookplate is. I have encountered professional (?) booksellers who think that a bookplate is any plate published in a book. How about that?

    I will work on that long-discussed exhibition of my New England plates that I told you about; others should try to do likewise, locally, including you. Your blog, of course, is great.

    I will try to get my article An Introduction to Bookplates. With Examples from the Earth Science Library of Herbert P. Obodda. Mineralogical Record volume 26, (1995), pages 143-158. put on my website. I have been told it is not half-bad.

    Finally (and for the time being) we owners of collections of bookplates should try to put inheritance restrictions on them to our heirs and require that they do not sell them for a  period of at least 20 years after we are gone.

    I will try to think of more possibilities.
    Best regards,

    Note from Lew;
    I added blue type to the last paragraph in Larry's email.It is an innovative suggestion.Would it work for most people ? Perhaps not, but it  might if your heirs understand that some collections will greatly appreciate in value over time  especially if they make a real effort to learn about them .

    From Tom Boss

    As a dealer in bookplates (and rare books) I can say, perhaps in a somewhat self-serving way,
    that the best way to dispose of your collection is BEFORE you have shuffled off the mortal coil. It has been my experience that most of the collectors I’ve known who have done that have been quite happy with the results of a dealer, private, or auction sale or some kind of gift
    to a library or museum.

    The reasons for the pleasure and satisfaction of moving along one’s treasures oneself are
    primarily related to control. If one expires before the collection is sold there is never an ironclad guarantee that one’s wishes will be adhered to in all of the important ways. The material may be scattered when the owner wanted it kept together or publicly auctioned
    when the desire was for friends and colleagues to have exclusivity in purchasing or at least
    first refusal.

    Selling one’s collection before demise is a sure way to more closely achieve what may be
    wanted in disposal; one can exercise the maximum control. One can gauge the market or
    demand by talking to other collectors, dealers, auctioneers and librarians or museum curators.
    When a collector takes on the task of disposing of his own material while alive and in full command of his faculties the result will invariably reflect his wishes and usually work out

    From Christine Bell

    Dear Mr Jaffe
    Having worked as a volunteer organising a medium-sized bookplate collection for the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, my suggestion is this:  to avoid the dispersal of collections, the present owners/collectors should consider the idea of leaving their collections to a public institution which has an existing collection, whether it be large or small.

    In Australia, because of our federal tax laws, there is a scheme called the Cultural Gifts Program (CGP).  This means that an eligible institution can be approached by a potential donor, and if accepted by the institution in line with its publicly accessible acquisition guidelines, the value of the gift is a straight deduction against the donor's taxable income for the year in which it was donated.  The value is determined by the average of 2 valuations by Commonwealth approved valuers.  In the event that the value of the donation is too large for a tax deduction in the year the gift was made, it can be carried forward for 5 years.

    This has been a bonus for cash-strapped organisations like galleries, museums and libraries, and is the basis for the donation of the John Gartner collection which I am cataloguing at the moment.  This collection has about 45,000 examples, the majority of them European from the 20th century, but it is growing slowly through gift, purchase and exchange. A collection of bookplates made for Elizabeth and Jack Diamond will be added to the State Library's collection through the CGP system, and the catalog will include information the Diamonds and the donor.

    I do know that some collectors regard public institutions as huge maws into which small gifts can disappear without trace, but electronic access is improving in major institutions, and libraries are the major forces in improving on-line access.

    Best wishes
    Christine Bell
    Christine  Bell P.O. Box 427 EAST MELBOURNE 3002 Victoria Australia email:

    From Mark Griffin

     I am a recent convert to this hobby, my focus has been more on acquiring than on selling.  I have no intention of getting rid of my collection during my lifetime. Neither of my children is particularly interested in this hobby, but they are still relatively young and may become more interested as they grow older. I hate the thought of my collection disappearing into the collections of some University, Library or other institution because that would mean that for all practical purposes, these bookplates would be lost to the general public except in the rare instances when an institution mounts an exhibit of some of these bookplates.  I would like to see someplace where collections could be made available to old and new collectors alike at fair prices since one of the joys of this hobby is finding new items for one’s collection.

    From Jacques Laget

    I was a little over twenty years old when I started picking bookplates. At that time it was impossible to sell an old book binding if it was not in good condition,  All works with used Bindings  went home .. I removed bookplates that would have been thrown out by the bookbinder. Then I started buying collections and have classified the French bookplate by owner name. After more than 50 years of collecting I found myself at the head of a number of double and also bookplates from all countries, but I was collecting the French. Thus from merchant of books I became a merchant of bookplates ... What will become of my collection after me? I do not know. There are few collectors in France but the people I know keep only certain categories, I have never met an amateur who seeks to unite all French bookplates. I now has nearly 30,000 old (before 1930) or modern. I think the ideal would be of interest to an institution and sell this collection, and then seek only those who lack ...
    The general directory of French bookplates (until 1930) is now available at        This is a very slow link .Be patient.

    I have to include more than 10,000 scans. do not know if I have enough time yet because life is so short!

    Ex-Libris Jacques LAGET -

    From Jerry Morris


    My blog post shown below, still best expresses my plans for the disposition of my books.  I have sold and will continue to sell some of my books now.  But many of my books will remain on my bookshelves until after I'm gone.

    On Finding New Owners For My Old Books

    Finding new owners for my old books is something I've done before. In 2006, while waiting for my disability retirement to be approved,  I sold some of my old books just to help pay the bills.   In the months to come, I will try to find new owners for some of my old books just to make it easier for friends and family to dispose of my books after I am gone.

    I will sell some of my books now. And I will research and identify potential buyers of some of my other books. These potential buyers will be contacted, hopefully "at a much later date," and offered the books I think they might be interested in acquiring.
    Among the books to be disposed of at a "much later date" will be the books that have been given to me, which are part of My Sentimental Library Collection.

    What books will I be selling now? My First American Edition of Shakespeare's Works; my Poetry books; my History books; and a few selected author collections.

    I would love to sell my Books About Books Collection en bloc –– anyone interested? Contact me: moibibliomaniac at, with @ replacing the word "at.'

    But I am prepared to sell my Books About Books by sub-collections (bibliography, booksellers, etc.). What I will not do is list my Books About Books individually on eBay.

    My Mary Hyde Collection will be sold en bloc at a later date. And I have a potential buyer or two already listed.

    If you are interested in acquiring some of my books either now or at a later date, please contact me: moibibliomaniac at  
    I have all my books catalogued on Library Thing   where I have added  contact information of potential buyers in the "Private Comments" section .


    From Richard Thorner


    Bookplates, like other collections, should be scrutinized when preparing an estate plan.  They are an asset which should be considered like any other asset such as real estate, stocks and bonds.  This is especially true for the avid collector whose net worth may be heavily-weighted in tangibles.

    This is an attempt to simply point out some facts which should be considered when dealing with estate planning issues of your collection.  Needless to say, professionals in the form of certified public accountants and estate planning attorneys should be consulted when it comes time to developing your specific estate plan.  The following represents an overview of some of these issues:

    1.     During your lifetime, remember that if you sell any portion of your collection at a gain (and everyone should be keeping accurate records with respect to purchase prices and vendors), there is a flat capital gains rate of 28%.  This is significantly higher than the rate on other assets such as stocks and real estate (15%);

    2.     If you are nearing the end of your collecting either due to age or disinterest, then it may make sense to hold the underappreciated asset until you die in order to avoid the aforementioned capital gains tax.  This assumes, of course, that the asset is, in fact, underappreciated (i.e. that you would be selling your collection at a profit);

    3.     To the extent that you are holding the underappreciated asset at the time of your death, your estate will get what is termed “the automatic step-up  in basis.”  In other words, if you bought a Paul Revere bookplate for $1,000 and at the time of your death, it has a fair market value of $2,000, your heirs will inherit it at the date of death value (i.e. $2,000).  If your heirs sell the bookplate for the $2,000, then there is no capital gains tax.  If, however, you sold the bookplate right before you die for $2,000, you would have to pay 28% on the $1,000 gain ($2,000 sales price less your cost of $1,000).  Hence there is a benefit to dying with the asset with respect to capital gain tax avoidance.

    4.     Do not get confused between the “capital gains tax” discussed above and the Federal Estate Tax.  When computing the latter, each individual is currently entitled to a $5.43 million exemption (meaning if your estate is below this value, there is currently no federal estate tax).  Keep in mind that Congress could decide to reduce this exemption at any time, so while your estate may be far below $5.43 million in value, it may be impacted if Congress reduces the exemption below whatever your estate is valued.  Additionally, I am not going to address whether or not your particular state has any estate tax consequences.  You must consult your own advisors on that issue.

    5.     If your estate’s value exceeds the $5.43 million (and assuming you are leaving your estate to someone other than your spouse as there is an unlimited Federal Estate Tax exemption for a spouse who inherits), then the estate tax needs to be computed (or estimated ) and paid within nine (9) months of the date of death.  This may be a problem if you estate primarily consists of tangible assets with very little cash.  Your heirs would have to raise the money some how, and your collection might be the first thing that gets liquidated. The problem with a potential liquidation is that your heirs may be forced to sell at a “fire sale” discount just to raise the funds.

    There are many other topics and practice tips that should be considered, but the foregoing represents a quick overview of some basic information.

    Richard Thorner, Esquire

    Wadleigh, Starr & Peters, P.L.L.C.

    95 Market Street

    Manchester, NH 03101

    PH:  603-669-4140

    FX:  603-669-6018

    Note from Lew.Richard Thorner is exceptionally well qualified to share his thoughts with us. He is a bookplate collector/dealer and an attorney.

    From Richard Schimmelpfeng

    Thoughts on the Disposal of a Private Bookplate Collection

                   I began collecting bookplates in 1971 after contacting the ASBCD which turned out to be the indefatigable Audrey Arellanes.  Audrey put me in touch with Mary Alice Ercolini who had just decided  she would disperse her collection due to health reasons.  I was able to acquire large quantities of European and Australian modern pictorials by artists that became well known to me.  So, over the years I have amassed a large collection of bookplates, occasional graphics, and related literature, both books and periodicals.  At the time I became acquainted with Mary Alice she told me she felt strongly that collections should go back into circulation rather than be donated to libraries or museums.  I think unless an institution has the interest, and more importantly, the staff and wherewithal to catalog a collection, that collections are better off being dispersed to newer collectors.  Part of Mrs. Ercolini’s collection did go into a library, as did the remainder of Clare Ryan Talbot’s collection and a few others, but most of it sits boxed on shelves, the acquiring library having had little staff and no funds to catalog and scan the bookplates online.  I’ve had a great time collecting and exchanging over the years and building up my collection.  Now, in my own thinking, sometime soon I will hopefully be looking for ways to disperse my collection among a younger generation of exlibris enthusiasts, although I am well aware that I will never recoup the considerable expenses paid out over the years. 

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    In early November Heritage Auctions will be selling about 2,000 bookplates from  the James M. Goode collection.
    It will take place in New York City and also be shown on the internet..

    Many items in this collection are custom  framed and elegantly labeled with calligraphy.

    The collection includes the plates of prominent figures in many fields ,including politicians , entertainers, industrialists,scientists and authors.
    Among the bookplates are those belonging to George Washington,Greta Garbo, and Nelson A. Rockefeller, Albert Einstein and Robert Frost.There are bookplates designed by Paul Revere, Thomas Hart Benton, Paul Landacre,Edward Burne-Jones. Leonard Baskin and Eric Gill

    Framed Photos courtesy of Heritage Auctions (

    Click ON Images To Enlarge
    During the second week of October  you can also go to
     where you can see and  enlarge  photos.of many more bookplates.
    George Washington Bookplates
    "Framed here are three of President George Washington’s bookplates. Above left is one of the 300 bookplates engraved and printed for George Washington by S. Valliscure in London in 1777. When Washington died in 1799, he left a library of 900 volumes. His heirs sold the books to an American book dealer in 1846, and when the citizens of Boston learned that the British Museum was interested in acquiring them, they raised $4,000 to buy the library, and donated it to the Athenaeum of Boston. Only 137 of the Athenaeum books have his bookplate; the heirs gave the remainder of the bookplates to Washington’s admirers. The second bookplate, above middle, is an 1863 forgery, which was inserted in 200 eighteenth-century books auctioned by W.L. Wall Company in Washington, D.C. When exposed as a fraud, the books brought very low prices. The third bookplate is an 1890 restrike, printed from the original copper plate, which was given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1907 and never used again. "

    Bookplates of U.S. Presidents

    Rockwell Kent Bookplates
    "These bookplates were designed by Rockwell Kent, a leading artist in the United States during the 1930s. He also produced paintings, prints, and illustrations for leading magazines as well as contemporary and classic books including “Moby Dick.”

    Theatrical Bookplates

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    Last week I attended a book show in Brooklyn and found about twenty bookplates.
    Shown below are four of my favorites.
    This monogram is very confusing. I see an S and perhaps a second backward S.
    Do you see any other letters ? I could use some assistance.

    This octagonal bookplate   circa 1840 is from a Circulating library in Scotland

    I already own the Waters bookplate but I hope to trade with someone eventually.
    The bookplate is mentioned in Theatrical Bookplates by A. Winthrop Pope (Published 1914)
    My first though was that it might have been used by Ethel Waters but she was only eighteen in 1914
    so the owners first name is unknown.

    R.W.G. Vail, librarian and Author 

     Robert W. G. Vail (1890-1966) was the  librarian of the American Antiquarian Society from 1930 to 1939. 

    A bookplate Selfie sent by Luiz Felipe P. Stelling

    Dear Lew,

    I found this picture so interesting. Like our modern times with many selfie-photos by smart phones, it seems in the 1950s there was a selfie by this woman depicted in this bookplate.

    Best regards,


    Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia today.

    Pope Francis Selfie

    Everyone's doing it...even  Pope Francis has his picture taken inside St. Peter's Basilica with youths from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio who came to Rome for a pilgrimage at the Vatican. Photo: AP

    I don't know if Pope Francis uses a bookplate , Here is a scan of the bookplate used by Pius X
    It has  traveled around the world. I originally purchased it in 2003 in Hudson New York.At the time my focus was on 18th century American bookplates so I made a trade with the late Brian North Lee whose focus was on royal bookplates. After his death the Lee collection was sold at auction in England.
    Brian had a distinctive way of displaying bookplates.He mounted them on graph paper.I mention this because in 2009  this came up for sale on Ebay and I was the high bidder.

    Luigi Bergomi sent the following 

    scans from his collection:

    Ugo Boncompagni (Gregorio XIII) approx. 1572 (188 x 140 mm)

    Luigi Barnaba (Pio VI) approx. 1800 (64 x 58 mm)

    Lorenzo Orsini (Clemente XII) approx. 1730 (49 x 38 mm)

    By Cordeglio Penel

    Upcoming Bookplates at PBA auction #571 

    Lot #401(10/15/2015)

    Threats and Warnings on Bookplates

    Three years ago I wrote two articles about threats and warnings on bookplates.

    Chester Winslow(1792-1858) used this bookplate in his book No. 81. 
    Job Richmond acquired the book and made the following notation:

    March 1854  I will not own up, so go home No. 81.
    I found you astray.
    If a thing is lost does it change ownership 
    Job Richmond

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    Submitted by Guillermo Morán

    This belongs to the University of Salamanca and, as far as I know it is not exactly a bookplate, but a print aimed to be on a wall or the like.
    It is quite popular nowadays and you can find copies of it hanged in a lot of private libraries in Spain.
    I translate:
    There is excomunion 
    reserved to His Holiness 
    to any person
    that may take, embezzle or by any other way
    alienate any book 
    parchment or paper
    from this library 
    without being able to be absolved
    until it is not perfectly reintegrated
    There's an explanation in Spanish in this link:


    This really has nothing to do with bookplates

    ON THE HUNT A bedbug-sniffing dog at a library in Wichita, Kan.

    Zombies In Libraries

    I will be back on Sunday .Have no fear.

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    My last posting about Bedbugs and Zombies was a bit creepy ,wasn't it ?
    I suppose bats are less repulsive since they feast  on tons of  Mosquitoes .
    I just got a bookplate featuring a bat. It is an unusual subject..If you have any bat themed bookplates in your collection send me a scan and it will be added to this posting.

    The owner Bates Grimston Van De Weyer was a member of the landed gentry in England

    Bates Grimston Van De Weyer

    Death: (Date and location unknown)
    Immediate Family:

     Heraldry of Fish

    One of the first bookplate books I ever purchased was a disbound copy of 
    The Heraldry of Fish,.
    . Notices Of The Principal Families Bearing Fish in their Arms

    by Thomas Moule
    Here are a few examples of bookplates  spawned by that book.

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    The Upcoming James M. Goode Bookplate auction was featured in The New York Times

    A collection of entertainment bookplates are among the thousands of holdings from the James M. Goode collection. They are matted and framed and will be auctioned at the Waldorf Astoria. 


    Marsha Brown  took the time to send this information from 

    The Repository | Royal Society
    Updates about our work on bringing the history of science to life.

    I always read your newsletter and so I thought you might be interested in the photo below.

     If you have a bookplate crimes category,this is a candidate

    No prizes to the owner of Barnsley Park, one James Musgrave, who has plonked his armorial bookplate squarely down in the middle of the great scientist’s handwriting (Sir Isaac Newton) – I think I shall have to lie down in a darkened room for a while to lower my librarianly blood pressure at this point.

    You can see the entire blog posting by following this link .

    Oct 16th 2015, 08:00, by Rupert Baker 

    Note from Lew- This is Marsha Brown's Blog

    Some further thoughts on the place of bookplates in libraries
    By Christine Downer

    Some years ago I think I mentioned that a medium sized collection of international bookplates was given to the State Library of Victoria.  This is not a stagnant collection, as funds have been made available for purchases over the past 5 years.  There is no endowment for this area of collection, so funds come from two budget lines within the special collection areas _Rare Printed and Pictures.  Recently a collection of international bookplates was purchased to add to the existing collection.  This was formed in Hamburg by Viktor (or Victor) Singer, a collector and publisher, who fled the Nazis in late 1938, and came to Australia via England in 1939.  The collection, which was known to exist but seemed to disappear after Singer's death in 1943, surfaced with a rare book dealer in Melbourne a year ago, and was purchased by my bookplate mentor in order to prevent it being broken up and sold overseas.  The purchase funds were provided by 2 donors (2/3 of the total) and by the Library for the remaining third.  There are about 2000 plates in all, and the arrangement is by country, and within each country, alphabetically by artist.  It took me about 4  months to archaically house and box the collection before it went into the Library. 

    My point is that, if collectors are worried about the future of their collections, and would prefer them not to be broken up and dispersed, it might be as well to choose and institution and begin negotiations well in advance.  Patience and the long-term view are both important when negotiating with public institutions - there's always a reason for them to say there are no funds to support future acquisitions.  This is a stock response to most initial negotiations., but money can always be found  in the end if a well thought-out case is presented, from my experience of working 25 years in such an institution.
    The other avenue might be, if personal funds allow, to leave collections to these institutions, with some kind of endowment.
    The final avenue of course it to allow collections to be dispersed so that others can have the fun and discipline of building up a new collection.
    I don't know if this adds anything to the collection of opinions that you have already assembled from people with much more experience than I in these matters

    10/26/2015  Received this Email From Gene Alloway

    Hello sir -

    I hope this note finds you well and with many new treasures this 
    fall.  I read your posting re: Marsha Brown and the bookplate over 
    Newton's handwriting. I had a similar experience last week ( no 
    pictures, sadly). I was doing an appraisal of books a local public 
    library (not Ann Arbor, thankfully) had returned to a family after 60 
    years of not-so-benign neglect.

    The family's grandfather had donated hundreds of books, many rare, 
    but the library decided (after losing track of some 40% of them) that 
    the remnant  needed to be returned or destroyed. Luckily, after some 
    dithering, they did give them back to the family.

    One of the books was a presentation copy of a work by Charles Knight 
    to Dickens. the book had both the library bookplate put in the book 
    at the dispersal of the library, and the record of the book at the 
    sale pasted in as well. The library, in its infinite wisdom, had 
    placed their bookplate DIRECTLY on top of the personal bookplate of 
    Charles Dickens.

    I used to be a librarian, and my disappointment and irritation at the 
    treatment of these books by the library was simply topped off by the 
    above. I cannot imagine either the ignorant placing of the 
    institutional bookplate of the famous one, or - a more inexcusable 
    action - the deliberate covering up of it. As I get older, I cannot 
    help but think that many librarians and library staff, despite 
    protests of their love of books, really didn't and don't know much 
    about the items in their care, nor are concerned to learn more.

    In any case, I was able to lift the institutional plate off with no 
    additional damage to the plate below, at least restoring the Dickens 
    plate to view.

    Best wishes -

    Gene Alloway
    Motte & Bailey Booksellers
    212 N. 4th Ave
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    Member, Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA)
    Open Mon-Sat 10 am -7 pm

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    My New Bookplate
    By Al Gury

    As a collector of  private press books and bookplates, I wanted my own unique bookplate.
    I had already been collecting the woodcuts of the Philadelphia artist Martha Knox, so I commissioned her to design a bookplate for me.

    She sent me several designs, one of which is the bookplate shown here.
    The process was fun and interesting and I am pleased to own the original block.

    I know Martha is interested in designing more bookplates.
    She is a 2006 MFA graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
    Besides numerous editions of fine wood block fronts, she has recently produced two books: Cats A-Z, and Owl and Cat in Love.
    Both are illustrated with her beautiful wood cuts.

    Here is a link to Martha's website.

    About eight years ago I attended one of Hal Lutsky's vintage paper shows in California and I was able to purchase a wide range of bookplates.

    Here is a note I received from him today.

    If you are in california this show is worth visiting.

    Hello Collectors,

    Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be in San Marino (near Pasadena) for the postcard show this coming Saturday. I'll be there SATURDAY ONLY. In addition to my regular stock, I'll be bringing about 20,000 postcards priced at 25 cents each. These are fresh cards, most of which have never been to a show.  

    FREE PASSES! Email me by NOON THURSDAY for a free pass. I'll send one back via email that you can download & print. Admission is normally $5.  

    Saturday, November 7
    10am - 6pm

    Masonic Hall

    3130 Huntington Dr.

    San Marino, CA 

    Hal Lutsky



    A notice I received from The Ephemera Society of America.

    If you are unfamiliar with the Ephemera Society Here is a link

    MARK YOUR Calendar

    November and December

    November 1, Toronto, Ontario: Old Book & Paper Show 

    November 4, New York City: Heritage Rare Books & Historical Manuscripts auction 

    November 4-8, Pasadena CA: Daguerreian Society Symposium    

    November 7, Dallas TX: Heritage Americana & Political auction  

    November 13-15, Boston MA: 39th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair WE NEED YOUR HELP in manning the Society booth. Give an hour or two? Bring something from your own collection to illustrate the scope of ephemera?

    November 14, Boston MA: Boston Book, Print and Ephemera Show 

    November 14, Shelton CT: Memorial Service for Phil Jones, 2:00 at the Shelton Intermediate School, 675 Constitution Blvd. N., reception following in lobby. A citation from our Board of Directors in appreciation of Phil's contribution to The Ephemera Society of America will be read at the service. 

    November 20, Cincinnati OH: Cowan's American History Auction, 

    November 20-21, Worcester MA: CHAViC conference, "Moving Pictures: Images Across Media in American Visual and Material Culture to 1900" 

    November 20-21, Carversville PA: Antique Toy Auction, 

    December 4-5, Northampton MA: Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair 

    December 6, London England: The Ephemera Society Special Fair,
    January & February & March 2016

    January 2-3, Wilmington MA: Book & Paper row at the Boston Antiques and Design Show

    January 9-10, Hartford CT: Papermania,
    February 5-6, San Mateo CA: San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print & Paper Fair

    February 12-14, Pasadena CA: 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair
    February 19-21, New York NY: Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair

    DEALER BOOTHS STILL AVAILABLE mgetman@bookandpaperfairs.comMarch 18-20, Old Greenwich CT: Ephemera 36, Annual Conference and Fair, 

    See you again on Sunday

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    The two day auction of the James M. Goode collection is over

    .Here are  a few of the higher bids:

    George Washington                              $2750.00 *

    Paul Revere (four items)                       $2375.00  
    Prominent Artists                                  $2000.00 **     

    Famous Actors                                      $1625.00

    286 loose American Bookplates           $1375.00  

    * I doubt that the buyer has received his shipment yet but he has already placed it on Ebay
    for  $4950.00

    ** I suspect the  bookplate for Nelson Rockefeller by Picasso  was the driving force for the high bid

    Martin Matthews

    Designed by Jeffery Matthews

    . Martin Matthews(1935-2013) was a watch case maker. This tribute to him was written by Nicholas Philippe and appeared in the April 2013 issue of  Horological Journal

    “Where does one begin to talk about the man Martin Matthews, who gave so much to his profession and became internationally known as one of the most important case makers of his generation; but at the same time a human being who was both caring and sharing in all respects. I came across Martin in his later years and I have been both touched and inspired. I owe him a great debt of gratitude. It all started one day in the summer 12 years ago when I happened to be watching a video ‘Four Generations of Watchcase Making’

    . As a result of seeing this video I felt the urgent need to make contact with him. So I rang Martin and introduced myself, explaining that I was inspired by the video and that I was very interested in becoming his apprentice, so that I could learn the art of case making from a true master and expert in his field. He initially declined as he felt that it would take too long for me to learn these skills; I accepted this. However, for people who knew Martin, he was by nature, a kind and gentle person always willing to listen. From this first encounter our friendship began. As he got to know me through our conversations he understood more about me, that I was already a classically trained diamond mounter and goldsmith, which led him to changing his initial view. He said: ‘You had better be here first thing next Wednesday morning, but not before 9 a.m and not after 9 a.m!’
     I have many fond memories of my time spent with Martin. I would travel to his home in Otford, Kent, and we would share
    many great moments, have long discussions and philosophize greatly. Martin was an excellent teacher, always patient and transferred his knowledge in such a manner that I could honestly say I have learnt from a true great. He was a dedicated family man, who embraced and always welcomed me. I thoroughly enjoyed my moments with him; always starting the day with a cup of tea or coffee and then moving into his workshop, where we spent the first part of the day together, with Martin guiding me in all aspects of case making. At mid-day, we would take a break and, over lunch, spend quality time in his garden, observing the fauna and flora as he had a great love for nature. From my many hours with Martin, I began to understand better the inner core of the person: a conservationist, someone who had a deep passion for natural history, a true philanthropist and a humanitarian. His Christian faith was deeply important to him, as was his family. Married to Margaret, they had four children, sadly losing one son in infancy. At the time of Martin's death, he had six grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Martin Matthews was, I believe, the last traditional watch case maker in England. He was the fourth generation of a Clerkenwell, London, family of watch case makers, whose remarkable skill, patience and expertise turned a sheet of silver into an elegant watchcase. Only now do I really understand Martin's true expertise, and how well I have been trained by the great master, whom I will deeply miss. My love and sympathy goes to his family and his loved ones and I will cherish the special moments and the knowledge and skills he has provided to me. Your friend always – you will be in my thoughts forever”.

    Jeffrey Matthews

    Designed by Jeffery Matthews


    During his interior design study, Matthews was taught heraldry and letter typography. He then became an illustrator and created logotypes, graphic and typographic designs for public administration, firms and book covers. He diminished these activities during the 1990s.
    At the end of the 1950s, Matthews registered to the Council of Industrial Design, which proposed graphic artists to client entities. In 1959, he was amongst the designers the Council proposed to the Post Office; the British postal administration was looking for the design of two stamp series to mark its 300th anniversary. He was then regularly invited to propose stamp projects. His two first postage stamps were issued in 1965 for the 20th anniversary of the United Nations.[1]

    The Machin series

    In the 1970s, he became involved in the designs of new Machin definitive stamps, picturing Queen Elizabeth II's profile since 1967. When ordered, he designed new symbols for the Regional Machins in 1971, with new digits and letters.
    Philatelic recognition came from his work on the Machin series colours. In 1976, he prepared the three colours needed for the photographed high value stamps. In the middle of the 1980s, he provided the Post Office with a large palette of colours, sufficient for the new next values. This work was honoured by a mini-sheet of eight stamps and two labels that Matthews designed, which were sold during the Stamp Show 2000.

    Brander Matthews (1852-1929)

    Bookplate Designed by E.A. Abbey

    James Brander Matthews was an American writer and educator. He was the first full-time professor of dramatic literature at an American university and played a significant role in establishing theater

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  • 11/20/15--06:01: Dealer Profile Harri Ylikomi

  • My name is Harri Ylikomi. I am an antiques dealer  living in Jämjö outside the city of Karlskrona in the south of Sweden.

    I was born in Sasi close to the city of Tampere in Finland. I started to learn about antiques at a very early age since  my parents Eila and Lauri have been in the antiques business since the 1960s. In fact, my father has been  a bookplate collector for many years. I had my first antiques shop  in Tampere, Finland, from 1995 to 2013. My  wife Maria and I got married in 2014. Now we live in Sweden where I sell antiques and bookplates mostly through  eBay (my seller name is tampereen2005)

    Here is a link to my Ebay store:
    Recently I acquired the Olga Nilsons and 
    Alf Westergren Bookplate collections of over 2,000 fine and old 
    Ex Libris from the 18th century to the 1950s

    Alf Westergren (1891-1968), Swedish physician. In 1921 in an article on blood in pulmonary tuberculosis, Westergren introduced his method for measuring the sedimentation rate of red blood cells.Alf Westergren's collection was  started about 1910, .I currently have a copy of his bookplate in my Ebay store

    They included, for example, the bookplates of Alfred Nobel and the polar explorer Thorild Wulff both of which have been sold .

    Thorild Wulff polar explorer, who died in Greenland 1917

    There are far too many bookplates to scan individually so many of the bookplates have been listed on Ebay in groups of twenty, forty etc.

      I can  sort them  by themes like different kind of animals (birds, cats, horses ...), professions (doctors, teachers, pharmacists, writers, priests, captains, architects …), musical, ships, flowers, heraldry Vikings, rune stones etcetera. 

    Send me an email with  themes or artists that interest you and I will send scans for your consideration.

    These are just the tip of the iceberg

    Send your inquiries to

    Vera Stenhusen (Viking decoration)

    Carl Oscar Borg ( a Swedish born, American painter who was known for themes of the Southwestern United States) 

    Frithiof Hjelmqwist (Art Nouveau)

    Notes From Lew

    I have purchased some theatrical bookplates from Harri Ylikomi.
    Because the service was outstanding I asked him to create this profile.
    This is one of the  theatrical plates I ordered for my own collection. I liked it so much that I sent the image to my son who in turn inquired if I was not feeling well.  I then showed it to my wife who thought it was grotesque.
    So there you have it there is no accounting for taste.

    Here is a link to the Swedish Bookplate Association website

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  • 11/26/15--06:43: Thanksgiving Day 2015
  • It is Thanksgiving day here in the states and I will forgo the usual images of bookplates with Turkeys.

    Here are some American Turkeys.

    Most of the world news is dreadful so here is a feel -good news item from THE NEW YORK TIMES


    Saeed Book Bank is an institution in Islamabad, displaying 200,000 titles, mostly in English, and stocking more than four million books in its five warehouses. CreditDanial Shah for The New York Times

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — After his father died, Ahmad Saeed took over the office on the ground floor of the family’s storied bookstore here, Saeed Book Bank. Then the elderly men started visiting, seeking to settle old debts.
    “They all apologized and said they had tried to see my father while he was alive but his office was always too crowded and they were embarrassed,” Mr. Saeed said.
    Five times such men arrived, hat in hand, not just to pay their respects to the son and family, but also to say they wanted to pay for books they had shoplifted as children. Mr. Saeed said his father, Saeed Jan Qureshi, who died of heart failure in September, would have been amused: He had always regarded book theft by children as an investment in a future where people still read, and thus become his customers.

    The man himself became an oracle to those looking for advice on books, taking time to establish a personal connection and to urge favorites on visitors. (That is another thing his son has inherited: He asked a visitor if he had read “Fallen Leaves,” the last book by the prolific American historian Will Durant, published in 2014, more than 30 years after his death.)


    Ahmad Saeed, left, overseeing the cataloging of new arrivals before they are put on the store's shelves. He inherited this business from his father, the founder, Saeed Jan Qureshi.CreditDanial Shah for The New York Times

    That approach helped Mr. Qureshi make an extraordinary future for Saeed Book Bank, particularly in an era when online sales have been driving independent bookstores out of business, and in a region where unfettered book piracy adds to retailers’ travails.
    With his passion for books, Mr. Qureshi built one of the biggest bookstores in the world — mostly selling books in English, in a country where that is a second language for most people.
    Saeed Book Bank has 42,000 square feet of usually busy floor space over three stories, displays 200,000 titles, and stocks more than four million books in its five warehouses — all, Ahmad Saeed said, “by the grace of the almighty.”
    (His visitor had not read “Fallen Leaves,” so Mr. Saeed sent one of his 92 employees to fetch a copy. “It is so good, you must read this book.” Another visitor to the office, an aged doctor named S.H. Naqvi, agreed, having himself read it at their insistence: “It will touch your heart,” he said.)
    Saeed Jan Qureshi came from a family that worked for a feudal landlord named Mir Banda Ali. His estates in southern Sindh Province were so vast that five railway stops reputedly lay within his property lines. His library was similarly scaled, and as a 9-year-old, Saeed was put to work dusting the shelves. One day Mr. Ali found him reading instead of working, and told the boy to get back to work immediately — but added that he could take a book home every night, so long as he returned it in mint condition.
    Saeed never got past high school but he was exceedingly well-read, and after school he found a job as a book salesman for a company that sent him to its Peshawar branch. Later, in the 1950s, he opened his own bookshop in Peshawar.
    During the Cold War years that followed, Pakistan was an outpost in the American rivalry with the Soviet Union, and Peshawar became an important military base, and later a vital C.I.A. base of operations, particularly during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Say what you will about the spooks, they were readers, and Mr. Qureshi built his business around catering to their literary tastes.
    (Speaking of Afghanistan, Mr. Saeed said: “Have you read ‘The Spinner’s Tale,’ by Omar Shahid Hamid? No?” He seemed mildly shocked. Moments later a Pan Macmillan paperback copy of the novel materialized. “I am sorry, we’ve sold out of ‘Fallen Leaves’ — it’s so hard to keep in stock — but read this,” Ahmad said. “A lot of it is set in Afghanistan.”)
    Later the rise of terrorism and fundamentalist Islam made Peshawar, capital of the wild frontier lands of Pakistan, a dangerous place for a bookseller — especially one who insisted on carrying magazines like Cosmopolitan and Heavy Metal, books by Karen Armstrong on Islam, and even the scientist Richard Dawkins’s atheist treatise, “The God Delusion.” (“You just wouldn’t believe how that sells,” Mr. Saeed said. “We buy a thousand copies from Random House every year, year after year.”)
    On the other hand, he said, another best-seller is “The Message of the Qur’an,” an English translation of the holy book by Muhammad Asad, a European Jewish scholar and diplomat who converted to Islam.
    Forced to close shop in Peshawar, Mr. Qureshi focused his efforts in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, a place heavily insulated from the country’s more extremist elements. Hard times followed as even Islamabad became a “no families” posting for diplomats and aid workers, but by then the bookstore was so big that its sheer breadth kept it viable, as plenty of Pakistanis read books in English.


    A salesman at Saeed Book Bank sorted volumes according to genre.CreditDanial Shah for The New York Times

    “Other Pakistani booksellers laughed at us that we never carried pirated books,” Mr. Saeed said. “But only best-sellers get pirated, and we carry everything.”
    The result is a bookstore of impressive scope, quirky and catholic. “Islamic Fashion,” a glossy coffee table book and a best-seller, vies for shelf space with “Queer Studies.
    A thick condolence book for Mr. Qureshi, the third so far, sits on a counter, which sags under the weight of a couple hundred miniature books as well. A few rows away, an entire shelf is given over to Noam Chomsky, 26 titles in all, which may well be more than any bookstore in the world displays for the radical linguist and philosopher.
    “Honestly, Chomsky sells here,” Mr. Saeed said.
    As the eldest son, Mr. Saeed was always destined to take over the business when his father passed away, and to learn the trade he traveled with his father to international book fairs; annually to Frankfurt, thrice yearly to London, twice yearly to Delhi.
    But not to the United States, the Saeed Book Bank’s biggest source of books.
    “We spend $500,000 annually in America, and I can’t get a visa,” Mr. Saeed said. “The consular officer said, ‘Why can’t you just order by email and fax?’ They just don’t understand about books. You have to go to the warehouses, and see them and feel them — that’s how you buy books.”
    (“Fallen Leaves” again: “When my father was sick, he said, ‘Read this book, and you will calm down,’” Mr. Saeed said. “He was right.” Dr. Naqvi could quote lines from it. “What if it is for life’s sake that we must die?” Otherwise, “youth would find no room on the earth.”)
    Mr. Qureshi made sure his children had the education he did not. Ahmad has a master’s degree in business administration, with ambitious plans to computerize the store’s inventory and build up what is now a clunky and unsophisticated online business. Nonetheless, it sells $1,000 worth of books a day online in a place where credit cards are still a novelty.
    For his father, books were more than just a business, Mr. Saeed said. One of the penitent former book thieves who dropped in was Suleman Khan, the vice chancellor of Iqra University, in Islamabad.
    “He came to say that when he was a child, 6 years old or so, he stole an Archie comic book and my father saw him,” Mr. Saeed said. “He said he was afraid he was going to get slapped, but my father said: ‘This is good that you like books. So every day you can take a book but keep it in mint condition and return it when you’re done so I can still sell it.’”
    And then the vice chancellor said, “Everything that I am now, I owe to your father.”
    (Dr. Naqvi, who is getting on in years, had seemed to doze off for a moment but awoke when he heard that story. “‘Fallen Leaves,’” he sighed. “You have to read that book. Everything is in there.”)

    Wherever you are enjoy your day.

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     Note from Lew
    When I retired  my employer held a farewell luncheon for me in Chicago.
    I continued westward and visited friends along the way
    In Arizona I made an appointment to see Bill Glaseman ..
    Looking back, six years later it was the highlight of my trip.
    Bill was ninety four years old  and he was (and still is) at the top of his game.
    I am pleased to publish this long overdue tribute to him.

    How did you stumble into bookplate collecting ?

    My introduction to bookplates came in a rather amusing manner.In an attempt to purchase a fresh water pearl ring for my wife ,I visited an estate dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. He specialized in buying out old estates , and reselling jewellery.His office was overrun with mounted works of art which caught my attention. I inquired about them and was told they were bookplates .
    I purchased the ring, which had to be sized ,so I had to come back a week later to pick it up.
    When I returned I  was drawn to the bookplates and the dealer asked if I would be interested in buying the collection and "take it off his hands".He quoted an extremely low price and I was hooked. That is how I came into possession of five large trunks and many boxes containing bookplates and bookplate correspondence from around the world.

    Who was the original owner of the collection ?

    The collection came from the estate of William R.A.. Hays (1875-1943). He devoted a large portion of his life to a worldwide quest for bookplates. The collection consists of more than 33,000 bookplates of which at least 20,000 are mounted.
    In addition there are in excess of 6,000 letters .These letters were in response to Mr. Hays requests to exchange bookplates. They came from royalty,captains of industry and notable people from many countries. He wrote more than 30,000 letters in his quest for ex libris.
    I do not know how he had time to deal with his law practice. The combination of correspondence and responses alongside the bookplates adds a unique dimension to the collection.

    Has the collection been exhibited anywhere ?

    In 1972 the Cleveland Public Library learned of the collection and asked about the possibility of exhibiting some of the material in their downtown facility.I agreed to their request and they sent a team from their fine arts division to my home.For three days they examined the collection. I was not at home during the research period but my wife kept hearing "WOW"throughout their visit.
    Several hundred were selected and framed and the exhibit was open to the public for six months.

    What are your favorites bookplates in the collection ?

    There are so many it is hard to make a selection but since you asked, here are two I particularly like.

    Enrico Caruso Engraved by A.N. Macdonald (three items)

    Trial Proof #1(This is a scan of a Xerox copy)
    Trial Proof #2 Before Lettering
    Completed Bookplate

    David Greene Engraved by Paul Revere

    Note From Lew - In my next blog posting I will show some examples of Mr Hays letter writing skills
    and some of the responses he received..
    Only In New York City
    "Stealing is punishable by the law," the sign reads. "If you are caught stealing the bathroom tissue from dispenser, you will be barred permanently from all New York Public Libraries."

    Had I seen this sign in the Morisania Branch of the New York Public Library I would have been tempted to take it and add it to my ephemera collection :however, the sign is gone.
    Staffers at the library put the sign up three months ago but took it down after it went viral. 

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    Here are some letters from the Glaseman collection.
    The following paragraph was written by Mr. Glaseman

    The Bennett A Cerf Bookplate was designed by Rockwell Kent

    Note From Lew

    I am always pleased to publish collector profiles.

      The  profiles are are not very structured. You just write a few paragraphs about yourself and your bookplate collection.
    Jpeg scans of your favorite bookplates increase the readership along with  a picture of yourself, if possible.
    If any editing is needed or if English is not your primary language I will advise you of suggested changes before publishing.
    A few randomly selected profiles are attached for your review
    If you have the time and inclination to participate please contact me.

    Lew Jaffe

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    Collectors everywhere hope some day to find a hidden treasure overlooked by everyone else.
    It is part of our DNA. That is why TV  shows like American Pickers and The Antiques Road Show have such a large following.
    Rebecca Rego Barry has written a book about collectors who grabbed a brass ring. My copy is in the mail and I thought the book  might interest some of you.

    In her new book Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places
      Rebecca Rego Barry recounts 52 extraordinary discoveries from the world of book collecting, including a stash of vintage comic books worth $3.5 million, long forgotten in a Virginia basement



    Rebecca Rego Barry is the editor of Fine Books and Collections magazine. She has also written about books and history for various publications, including The Guardian, JSTOR Daily, Preservation, The Millions, and Victoria. A member of the Ticknor Society, a book collectors’ club based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, her personal collecting specialties are 19th- and early 20th-century illustrated medical books, and Henry David Thoreau. She lives with her family in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

    Here is a  review of the book by fellow collector Jerry Morris

    Let There Be Light

    In 1879 when the electric light bulb was invented.Mr. William Connell  an early user of this cutting edge technology was proud to incorporate  a light bulb in his bookplate
    The Clarence Edward bookplate shown below was designed in  1918 when light bulbs were no longer cutting edge technology. Mr. .Rose was an Electrical Engineer.

    The Electrical Standardizing and Training Institute bookplate was designed by

     T Erat Harrison (REF. Ex Libris Journal Volume # 2 page 4)

    If you have any interesting electric bulb bookplates and want them added to this posting send JPEG images to                 

    A New Bookplate Exchange Site

    I received a n Email announcing the start of a new exlibris exchange site and contacted David Kovats ,one of the site developers  for  some background information.

     Here is his response.

    Dear Lew,
    Thank you again for taking the time to help us improve Collectorism as well as offering to write about it in your blog. This is a fantastic opportunity for us.
     I have attached 8 images that were selected to show how diverse is the bookplate collection of Ferenc Galambos which we acquired a few years ago.
    Our journey on becoming seriously involved in the exlibris trade began when we had the chance to buy this collection. Over 70,000 bookplates and the whole library that comes with it. It took us days if not weeks to even understand the volume and the quality we are dealing with. We did have some experience with bookplates; I used to see examples while on valuations with Sotheby's and Karoly has been an antiquarian from the start so it wasn't all new. However this collection took us to a whole new level. In a couple of months we knew that we want to have this as a full time occupation. We opened stores on different online marketplaces, joined societies in different countries, attended meetings, auctions and congresses. We kept selling works and buying/exchanging new ones at the same time.
     We were surprised to see there is no real online platform for people to exchange their bookplates (or actually any other collectible). We wanted to create a place where everyone is welcome, where collectors can meet others without having the trouble of traveling to fairs or conferences. A place where people can showcase their collection and the passion behind it. And most importantly a visual, easy-to-use and fun system to exchange items with anyone from anywhere in the world.
    The site opened last week and we already have lots of bookplates online. There are people who only want to showcase their collection or interest and that is great. It's also a fantastic way to make new contacts and there is no need to create your own website for a fortune anymore. There are also no restrictions on exchanging, so it's not just bookplates for bookplates, you can trade bookplates for a stamp collection, coins for posters or vintage toys for modern lego.
    I know by experience that there are many collectors out there not able to spend $10/$50/$100 weekly to buy new works but they would love to have the chance to get access to thousands of items that are all up for exchange!

    I truly believe this is a great way for exlibris lovers (and other collectors) to keep in touch, browse and find new things on a regular basis.
    I hope what I put together for you is not too much, please do let me know if you have any questions
    or need further information!

    Thank you very much again.

    With very best wishes,

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    I love to receive unexpected submissions from readers like this one from Guillermo Moran

    If you want to contact Guillermo about bookplate exchanges here is his email address


    If you want to submit an article for publication in 2016 here is my email address 

    Dear Lew,

    Here are the pics with their short explanations. Hope you find it interesting. Maybe the text will need some editing: as always, it is up to you.


    Here is the original sketch, drawn with white pencil on black paper, as I find that this way of  drawing is the closest to the mezzotint technique, where the areas affected will hold no ink and therefore, be white on the print.

    Next step consists of cutting a copper plate to the desired size. Then it is to be grounded with the rocker': The rocker has small teeth that, when rocking the plate, will teve tiny dots and their burrs on its surface. A lot of passes, in different directions will leave an even and complete coverage  of dots and burrs that will hold the ink. Before being affected by any other tools, the plate should print an intense black surface.
    With a scarper and a burnisher, the plate is to be affected where it has to print white. Here is the plate compared to the sketch. On the left there is a composite tool: pointing down it is a scarper, pointing up it is a burnisher.
    The lettering has been added
    The plate has been inked and wiped: the affected areas do not retain the ink.
    Then, a slightly wet paper is to be placed on top of the plate and the whole is passed through the press, applying significant and even pressure

    The print is  carefully lifted off the plate
    Here are the first five proofs of the bookplate.
    The final print, prior being numbered and signed.

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  • 12/30/15--19:35: Goodbye 2015
  • As the year is ending I would like to look back and look forward..

    In  2015 I did not complete many of the bookplate projects I had planned.

    The check lists of California artists , never got very far.
    If you are in California and have the time to assist me with this project please send  an email..

    For  the month of December here is a snapshot of readership by country.
    Entry Pageviews
    United States
    United Kingdom
    Costa Rica

    It is interesting to note that China which is feuding  with Google never shows up in these stats even though I know many in  China are reading my blog
     Looking Forward
      I would like to get more collector profiles and reader submissions next year.
     It is hard to believe but 2016  will be my tenth year as  a blogger.
    In blog years ( like doggie years ) that is a long time.

    To celebrate the tenth year I plan to have a bookplate contest.

    Antioch Bookplate Archives–Unusual New Year’s Greetings submitted by

     Rebecca Eschliman 

    Among the little correspondence from the 1930s that remained in the Antioch Bookplate Company files were some New Year’s Greetings from Art Young * to his friend (a friendship developed from their shared interest in socialist causes) and Antioch Bookplate Company founder Ernest Morgan.
    Art Young in the late 1930s
    1936 New Year's Greeting
    1938 New Year's Greeting
    *Art Young's bookplate designs for Antioch Bookplate were shown on these posts:


     From my own collection here is a New Years letter from 1943 which  I cherish because it reflects 
    the pulse of a time long gone when people had great respect and admiration for our leaders..

    To all of you out there may 2016 be a year for good health, joy and prosperity.

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    I never fully realized how  addictive my computer had become until it went through a mid life crisis earlier this week at the same time  that the neighborhood  computer  guru left for a ten day trip to California..
    In any event I am  getting back on track now and playing catch up.

    Here are some odds and ends that  have piled up.

    Fellow collector/dealer Gabe Konrad bought a large number of bookplate reference books and is in the process of printing a catalog.
    Cover of Catalog
    If you'd like to receive a copy of this print catalog, please email him at or call (231) 652-2665.

    Bay Leaf Used & Rare Books, ABAA/ILAB/IOBA
    Gabe and Melanie Konrád
    79 State Rd. (M-37)
    Newaygo, MI 49337

    Mystery Leather Bookplate

    This is one of the nicest leather bookplates I have ever had.
    I no nothing about the owner nor the country he lived in.
    Any input would be appreciated.

    The Wonders of The Internet
    One of my favorite bookplate artists is Frances Delehanty.Several years ago Richard Schimmelpfeng and I collaborated on a check list of her bookplates .

    This email arrived recently :

    Hello Lew,
    My name is David Hildt, and Frances W. Delehanty was my great aunt. I came across your blog after googling FWD, and I was amazed to see your collection of bookplates which she created. I am sending you a copy of the only one in my possession. It is one she made for her younger brother, Thornton Augustin Washington Delehanty, who was also the brother of my grandfather, John Bradley Delehanty.
     Our family history hasn't been kept up very well in that last few decades, so your collection has enriched our heritage.

    Thank you!
    David Hildt

    A collector who has 80,000 magazines.

    This has nothing to do with bookplates but extreme collectors fascinate me.

    Mineralogy Related Bookplates 

    Fellow Collector Larry Conklin has published his excellent article about mineralogy and bookplates.Here is a link:

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  • 01/17/16--13:56: Bookplates As Art
  • Bookplates as Art   Part One of Three

    by Mark Witteveen

    I collect bookplates as art. European pieces primarily, from the early 20th century prior to the rise of the National Socialists. Many of these bookplates are cultural artifacts. Charged with emotion, full of meaning, they come to us with complex legacies through the murderous upheavals and triumphs of the last century. By turns, on their own or through the sharpening lens of hindsight, they can entertain, enthrall, and disturb all the while vibrating with a strong pulse, like good theater. Or they can explode like a firecracker.

    Representational imagery in bookplates really flourishes after 1900. I’m strolling along a dark corridor with a flashlight scanning the walls, and I discover I’m not in a corridor at all but a vast museum of connecting rooms where thousands of small pictures hang upon the walls.

    Also from this time, with great appeal, narrative appears. We see bookplates with commentary on the human condition, personal stories and insights, hobbies, sports, the Arts, humor, playfulness, frivolity, reactions to world events, and more. Made by incredibly talented artists. And I remind myself that most bookplates were commissions. So not only did artist and occasion have to meet, he or she had to wrangle with a client. No doubt that negotiation varied, but what was a typical arrangement? Imagining one scenario, I picture Walter Helfenbein with one of his risqué bookplates wrought fresh for a client, who upon seeing it, retreats a quick step and says, “Ahhh yeah, no thanks pal.”

    Fritz Gilsi (Swiss) for Alfred Kaufmann, (ca 1923) shows progress/enlightenment, in the form of a naked woman wielding a torch, and arriving in an open book, scattering the masses.

    The design is richly associative; provocative without being confrontational, and completely lacking in sentiment. Note the pilgrim hat and the woman fleeing, her hands over her face. I recall Dostoevsky’s comment in one of his notebooks: “The European enlightenment is more important than people.” Gilsi’s bookplate seems as relevant to America today as it did in Europe, circa 1923.

    Mileva Roller (Austrian) for Helen Anderle (1912). At a glance, many people could pinpoint the origins of this image: Wiener Werkstatte, early 1900s. Sure, it’s of the era.

    What of the artist, Mileva Roller? In doing a little research, one finds more references to her beauty than to her artistic efforts. There doesn’t seem to be much of her stuff around. Was she not very productive? Merely derivative? Not encouraged? So many questions. To what extent did she achieve recognition, outside of her obvious association with famous male artists of the era -- her husband Alfred Roller, Solomon Moser, Gustav Klimt. What’s her story?

    Fritz Schwimbeck for Dr. Arthur Ludwig (1912).

    Look at those etched lines. That’s a steady hand. A setting sun, and the light still reaches out to touch every boulder, to invade every nook, as if to lay claim. Then the approaching night and tailgating gloom; you can almost feel its fur against your face.

    Heinrich Seufferheld (German) for Dr. Med. A W. Pietzcker (1915).

    Skeletal Death is a frequent actor in medical bookplates. Vengeful, predatory. Lurking close. In this Seufferheld bookplate, however, its treatment is unique. Maybe I’ve made up a storyline, but I’m going with it. Death is the one in trouble here. The struggle is past and the patient has proved the stronger. She has won this battle. In her tender care for the actor Death, we see its grim touch in her embrace, the taste is in her mouth, its stench fills her nostrils. This closeness, this ‘brush with death’, has given her foresight, so she takes pity. No one claims victory over Death. Time will take its toll; she won’t always be strong; someday, as certainly as night follows dusk follows day, their positions will be reversed. She is pleading mercy for her own gentle end.

    Arthur Paunzen (Austrian) for Th. Alexander (1917). The still-raging horrors of WWI are in this Paunzen bookplate. Small details are telling: a simple home, beside it a lone figure tries to work peacefully at a table; and the curve of the ground, suggesting not that Death is tramping across an isolated farmer’s field, but stalking the globe.
    A further note on the artist: as noted on, in 1938, “Paunzen fled Nazi Austria for England with 504 drawings and graphics and one violin.”  He died two years later on the Isle of Man, interned in a prison camp there by the British. I mention these facts and the website for those wanting to learn more about the artist, and to encourage collectors with Paunzen art to consider contacting the research team on the website, led by Gregory Hahn, Pd.D., who are compiling a Catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work. 

    Richard Lux (Austrian) for Martha Winter (1934).

    A shimmery emotive quality to this scene by Richard Lux. Sometimes I look at bookplate scene and wonder, “How does this relate to its owner?” (Martha Winter, in this example below.) Did she visit the artist’s studio and choose from his existing works, ‘Yeah, make me that one please.’ Or was Lux given free reign and he found inspiration in her personal history.
            To Be Continued

    Mark Witteveen

    Interested in early 20th century bookplates/ex libris

    For purchase or exchange of duplicates

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    Bookplates as Art   Parts Two and Three

    By Mark Witteveen

    Walter Helfenbein (German) for Erich Dorschfeldt (1922).

    A prolific bookplate artist, Helfenbein did a series of mementos mori for Erich Dorschfeldt; several, like these two (above and below) seem to be possibly inspired by the desert exploits of T.E. Lawrence. aka Lawrence of Arabia. WWI again. Attacking trains, and Death as companion, riding by your side. “Some of the evil of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances,” Lawrence writes in his bio-tale of the war, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

    Arthur Henne for R. Osswald (ca 1930)

    Great books threatening destruction, annihilation. This Henne scene, like Melville’s White Whale, is ripe for an analysis of its symbols. The imagery is specific, yet generalized too, so the scene is able to withstand numerous interpretations. Take your pick: the rule of law, the oppressive rule of law, or enlightenment (like the Gilsi bookplate earlier), to name a few. I don’t know if Henne had specific books in mind, but I appreciate that he used two. It keeps the scene secular, and avoids the apocalyptic. (Okay sure, it’s apocalyptic for them.)

    Bruno Heroux (German) for Hans Harrassowitz (ca 1929).

    Amazingly, the Harrassowitz firm, booksellers, is still in existence today. They specialize in supplying American universities (Harvard, U. of Chicago) with scholarly and antiquarian books from Europe. Heroux illustrates this trade nicely in the plate: the naked messenger, with Wisdom (the Owl) at his feet, and arm outstretched, book in hand reaching across the sea to deliver it to America (the Statue of Liberty).

    Georg Oskar Erler (German) for Dr. Willy Tropp, (1920).

    Like other graphic artists of the time, Georg Erler was a worker, executing thousands of pay-for-hire graphic jobs: birthday cards, New Year greetings, etc. He also did a series of bookplates with a nude woman in scenes with satyrs/devils, Death, and men. This is one from the series: startling, immediate, alive with tension. What is on the satyr’s face? Frustration? Defeat? Resignation? Lust? What’s the woman’s attitude? Impossible to know - it’s hidden behind the hat, and in the mind of the viewer. Erler gets high marks for setting his scene in media res.

    Sepp Frank
    Sepp Frank (German) for Dr. S.B. Guggenheim (ca 1920). The early 1900s were a fertile garden for the occult and various esoteric philosophies and practices. Ideas and symbols from these found their way into bookplates; the designs can be appealing, even when the meaning is lost, or frustratingly obscure.

    Sepp Frank was a successful representative of this trend, I think. His highly dramatic bookplates are always worth a look. There is much to admire in them, even when the meaning is not easily decipherable. Here, a sun-blazing Omega projects the long shadow of Death for an elegant human standing center stage in Life’s arena. (another memento mori)

    Georg Gelbke (German) for Walter and Margarite Vogel (1923).

    A Vogel, in German, ein Vogel, is a bird. Die Nacht Vogel weckt herzlich zu Kaffee und Skandal. The night bird wakes cordially to coffee and scandal. Gelbke plays with the couple’s surname, and off they go flying in the air. The size of the script ‘Vogel’ reinforces the playful design.

    Walter Rehn (German) for Hanns Heeren (1923). This Rehn bookplate has the lessons of Van Gogh. Recall Night Cafe. In one of his letters to his brother Theo, Vincent writes, “I am trying to exaggerate the essential but leave the obvious things vague.”

    In Rehn’s bookplate, a mere candle sets the room ablaze with light, contrasted with the lack of detail elsewhere. The man holding the candle, for instance -- any child of five could draw his legs with a stubby pencil. Rehn sets the scene: the man has been startled awake in his bed by strange noises. Hesitant with fear, he dons a robe, lights a candle and dread in his heart, sets out to investigate. What could be more comforting to a homeowner, or more delightful to a lover of books, than to discover three giant ghosts enjoying the treasures of your own library?

    Mark Witteveen, 2015
    Interested in early 20th century bookplates/ex libris
    For purchase or exchange of duplicates

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    Rebecca Eschliman  has written several  articles about the Antioch Bookplate Company and has been very generous in sharing information

    More information  can be seen by following this link

    David Sallume Vice President Antioch Bookplate Co.

    February 16, 1965

    Yolanda Bergamini

    Dear Miss Bergamini:

    Thank you for your recent order for 100 special bookplates. If you are not sitting down as you read this letter, I suggest that you either do so or take a solid grip on some stationary object. My reason for giving you this advice is that I have to tell you that bookplates manufactured to your specifications would price in the neighborhood of $250.00 for the first 100.

    Now that you have come up for air I will tell you that I have not taken time to pinpoint the costs precisely, though I will do so if you wish. Perhaps you might like to consider the alternative of having our art department prepare one color drawing based upon your own. Working on this basis we could supply 100 bookplates for a single order for $44.00


    David W. Sallume, Vice-President

    Dear Mr. Sallume:

    Thank you for your February 16 letter and for your sense of humor.

    Let's try the alternative to my first idea.

    I'm confident that your artists will prepare a satisfactory one color drawing based on my Mother's. The $44.00 cost for 100 bookplates sounds good.

    I hope that your artists will feel at liberty to re-arrange the placement of the words I requested for this bookplate, i.e. the quotation placed at the top may look better under the flowers. Thank you.

    Gratefully yours,

    Yolanda Bergamini

    February 25, 1965

    Dear Miss Bergamini:

    Thank you for your letter of February 22nd with further reference to the presentation bookplate.

    The thought is appalling one, but nearly 40 years of business operation have taught us that  when we do custom work for private persons, prudence dictates that we ask for cash with order. We will be delighted to put this bookplate into work upon receipt of your check for $44.00


    David W. Sallume, Vice-President

    Dear Mr. Sallume:

    Again thank you for a prompt reply to my request on February 22.

    This order may be appalling, but my Mother's friends think of her as a remarkable woman. And the family agrees.

    I have enclosed my check for $44. Thank you.

    Sincerely yours,

    Yolanda Bergamini

    March 8, 1965

    Dear Miss Bergamini:

    Thank you for your letter of March 2nd and your check in the amount of $44.00 Our acknowledgment on the special bookplate will go out very shortly.

    I was humiliated to find that you had apparently misunderstood my letter of February 25th. What I jokingly referred to as “appalling” was not by any means the order, but the necessity of asking for cash in advance. I think if you will look again at my letter this meaning will come through clearly.


    David W. Sallume, Vice-Pres.

    From The Antioch Archive
    What I can share with you today are a selection of private bookplates based on professions/interests (how I wish someone had written down the story of the rutabaga one!). 

    Brady -- printed in black on ungummed vellum. 10.2 x 7.6 cm

    Diaz-Pifferer --  [Manuel Diaz-Piferrer was a recognized authority on Caribbean undersea botany] Designed by Lucy Piferrer, printed in rose and black on ungummed white stock. 10.0 x 15.2 cm 

    Dunn -- Designed by Algira Pierce, printed in black on gummed vellum. 7.3 x 10.1 cm

    Feitelberg -- [1905-1967, physicist noted for his work on the application of theory from physical science] printed in sepia on ungummed vellum. 7.9 x 6.2 cm

    Freidberg -- printed in black on  ivory stock. 7.5 x 10.4 cm

    Goddard -- [12th governor of Arizona] printed in sepia (border and name imprint printed in blue) on ungummed vellum. 7.6 x 10.4 cm

    Klaila -- printed in black on ungummed vellum. 7.5 x 10.2 cm

    Fellow Collector Al Gury visited the print room at The Argosy Bookshop in New York City and found this treasure.
    Very fine woodcut on laid paper.
    Arts and Crafts period.
     Jacques Laget identified the artist and the owner.
    "René BIOT, born 1889 in Macon, near Lyon. Son of Félix-Camille. Chef Laboratoire Clinique Médecine,  Faculty of  Médecine of  Lyon, Doctor. méd 1914, installé Lyon 1917. Secrétaire Général "Groupe lyonnais d'études médicales, philosophiques et biologiques " qu'il a fondé 1924. Importante bibliothèque surtout musique ancienne.

    Bookplate by Claude Dalbanne around 1920"

    My son Steven sent this link about the Pratt Bookplate collection.
    It is very easy to navigate .

    Fellow Collector Anthony Pincott   sent this useful information about Theodore Roosevelt's Bookplate

    I don’t know if you have covered the bookplate of the 26th President in your blog, or whether it is written up elsewhere, but if not then there’s a fair bit at

    See you next Week


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