Monday, April 29, 2013

Bookplates To Love

Three beauties:

Design: Maxfield Parrish based on his 1887 Harper's Weekly cover. via

Two Literary Apes  seeking their humanity?

His and her books:

I find the wording on this bookplate rather odd. via

Note the extreme difference in tone between these two doctor's bookplates:

Design: Gaborjani Szabo for Dr. Sandor 1936

Three bookplates which would make me think twice about borrowing: 


Famous Readers - 8 Bookplates

I believe Swedish painter Carl Larsson (1853 - 1919) based this design on a painting of his wife.

Bookplate of British literary giant Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870) via

Bookplate of Hollywood kingpin, Cecil B. DeMille (1881 -1959) maker of movie spectaclesvia

Bookplate of Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901). via

Bookplate of mathematical wizard Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955). via

Bookplate of American illustrator Edward Penfield (1866 - 1925). via

Bookplate of famed author, journalist and social activist, Jack London (1876 - 1916). via

Bookplate of famed science fiction author and inventor of new worlds, H. G. Wells (1866 - 1946). via

For whatever reason, bookplates don't seem to be as popular now as they used to be. (Except as collectibles.) Maybe it's because the news leaked out that a glued in bookplate will lower the value on an otherwise collectible book unless the owner of said book is or was a famous person. (Or unless the book is SO rare, that an existing copy will be scooped up in any condition.) Oh no! But yes, it's true. 

Also it's hard to bookplate an e-book. Just sayin'.

Still, if you don't care about resale, then bookplates seem perfectly appropriate, especially if you have friends who are forever borrowing from your library. 

Of course bookplates make for wonderful ephemera collectibles on their own. 

If you want to see more and learn more there are a couple of websites online devoted to bookplates and their history: Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie is one of the best. I also love the Pratt Institute's Library on Flicker.

There's also my Pinterest Bookplates board, if you are so inclined. (And I hope you will be.)


  1. Bookplates can sure be a thing of beauty, can't they? Those are some lovely ones you've collected in this post. While I admire many of them for their aesthetic, I'm still on the fence about actually using them myself. On the one hand, I'm sure I'd have gotten back a lot more of my lent books through the years if I'd used them. On the other hand, it feels a little imperialistic to lay claim to one's books that way in the same way that early explorers claimed foreign landmasses for their king/queen and country.

  2. Dear Yvette,
    I enjoyed this post.
    I love book plates and intend to get my own one 'done'. I don't care that they might decrease the value of the book as I don't intend to sell any of mine ever!
    I really liked the first one in your post. I could live with it as my own book plate.

  3. Great post! I love bookplates. I used to make my own, but I never pasted them into my books (I mainly read paperbacks anyway).

  4. As the Crowe Flies: I agree, some of these are things of beauty. I'm on the fence as well. Though I discovered recently that some of my books from years ago have bookplates in them. Which is fine, really, because as Kirk says, I don't intend to sell them. (Most of them aren't worth any money anyway - they just have reading and memory value to me.)

    But I do have several collectible items and those remain bookplate-less. :)

    I have nothing against imperialism - when it comes to books, that is. :)

  5. Maybe you could design one similarly, Kirk. I love it too. But then, to my mind, these are all very inventive in their own unique ways. A couple though are downright mysterious. :)

    It's all in how people view themselves and their book habits - isn't it?

  6. Thanks, Tasha. Glad you enjoyed the post. I love bookplates though I've stopped using them for their intended purpose. Still I do like looking at them and wondering about the owners.

    There's no law that says you can't put a bookplate inside a paperback. It all depends on your feelings for the book, I suppose. :)

  7. Hi, Yvette,

    I'm willing to bet that the second bookplate ia a design by Rockwell Kent.

    Years ago, I designed a heraldic bookplate for a collector of rare books. As I recall, the paper was acid-free, and the adhesive was archival as well. (But if they had been my own books, I would have refrained from using bookplates!)

  8. I can see why they would reduce the value of a collectible book, Yvette, but they certainly are things of beauty in their own right, aren't they? Lovely collection!

  9. Such a wonderful post, Yvette - some amazing bookplates here! Thankyou for sharing.

  10. I love them all, especially the Jack London one. And my sister would adore the Dowling one with the horse. Yet another reason why printed books can never be ousted by digital ones! Great subject for a post, too.

  11. Yvette, I agree, you don't see many bookplates now but I loved the ones in your gallery of ex libris, especially the one by Virginia Lewis. Thanks for sharing all these.

  12. Thanks for another interesting and lovely post. I'd be happy with any of those bookplates, but, like you and many others, I don't use them myself. I do have some nice ones with a lion's head (I'm a Leo) on them, still sitting pristinely in their box.

    The ones encouraging returning lent books are a hoot! Broken friendships make me sad - so I don't loan out any of my books. I do give the 'non-keepers' away, though.

  13. Yvette, I love your gallery of bookplates! As someone who is neither a borrower nor a lender except with friends I know I can trust (can you tell I've had people borrow beloved books, never to see the book or the people ever again? :-/), I especially love the bookplates with pictures involving witty yet violent threats! Thanks for sharing these, my friend!

  14. I refrain as well, Mark. Acid or not. :)

    I would like to see your design. Maybe you could do a post?

  15. Thanks, Les. I wish I actually owned these. :)

  16. You're welcome, Sue. It was a fun post to work on. Hard to narrow down my choices, though. :)

  17. Thanks, Rick.

    There are so many things about actual books that can never be replaced. I agree.

  18. You're welcome, Prashant. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    You liked that blood thirsty one - huh.
    It gets its point across. Ha!

  19. I'm with you, Joan. I rarely lend my books (only to my brother) but I do love the whole idea of bookplates.

    Don't use them but that doesn't stop me looking longingly at them in the bookstore. :)

  20. You're welcome, Dorian. I'm with you about lending and borrowing. My main borrowing comes from the library. (Where would I be without it, I just don't know.)

    I love those 'threatening' plates too. :)

  21. I've seen your very interesting Pinterest bookplate board, Yvette, as I follow you in all categories on Pinterest.

    I never used a bookplate in my books but I have come across them in used books. Lately I've been buying books from (mostly used books) and a few have some with autographs by the author!

  22. Thanks for the tip, Pat. I'm going to take a look at Sounds like my kind of place.

    Don't you love it when you come across an author's autograph? That's happened to me a couple of times.

    Oh, and thanks for 'following' my boards. I spend a great deal of time over at Pinterest. It seems to have a soothing effect on me, especially these days when I'm not feeling a hundred percent.


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