Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bookplates By The American Banknote Company

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Ambrose Swasey(1846-1937) owned Warner & Swasey, manufacturers of
astronomical telescopes.

Museum of American Financial History

The American Banknote Company traces it's origins back to 1795 and a detailed history of the company can be found at the orange link above.

There is a also a news release (7/13/2006) about the company on the website for Rare Book Review I am quoting from it in part :"The American Banknote Company will auction over 200 tonnes of the ornate printing plates from its archives, many of them over 150 years old."

I don't think the American Banknote Company printed very many bookplates and suspect the activity was primarily with institutional customers .

If you have any other bookplates by them please send me a scan (bookplatemaven at Hotmail dot com) and it will be added to this posting. In The Artists and Engravers of British & American Bookplates by H.W. Fincham, a pictorial bookplate for The Brooklyn Institute is listed but not illustrated.

Some of the bookplate engravers who worked for the company are Ernest Clegg ( See Harvard Bookplate above) , Sidney Lawton Smith ,Rudolf Ruzicka and Frederick Spenceley (Ref. American Bookplates by William E. Butler, p.46 , p118, p.121)

Mr. Mark Tomasko was kind enough to send the following: " The Norman Williams Library bookplate is interesting because it has two portraits that appeared in the picture engraving records. NormanWilliams was engraved in 1884 by G.F.C. ("Fred") Smillie (1854-1924) , an outstanding bank note picture engraver who trained and worked at ABN and later freelanced, and later still was the chief engraver at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Mrs.Williams was engraved in 1884 by Alfred Jones (1819-1900) , probably the finest banknote engraver of the second half of the nineteenth century. In a quick look,however,this portrait does not appear to be one of his better jobs"

In addition, Mark Tomasko has also supplied the following American Banknote Company bookplate images :

Bowdoin College, Thomas Hubbard Fund
James Hazen Hyde
Brown University, Hammond Lamont Library
Marguerite Macdonough Holm
Walter Thomas Wallace

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