Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where Do You Get Bookplates ?

The etched Josiah Colby Bassett bookplate was in a group which I recently purchased . The name is not all that common so my research leads me to believe he was a lawyer in Boston who graduated from Harvard in 1900. The artist's initials SC are probably for Sheldon Cheney.
If you click on the image it will enlarge. Does anyone out there know the purpose of the smoldering basket on the pole ? I bought the plate out of curiosity and would love to know.

People often ask me where to find bookplates so I thought it might a good time to write about building a collection.


When I started this adventure about 35 years ago there was no Ebay so I built a collection without it.

Today Ebay it is certainly an excellent way to find bookplates from around the world. It takes time and discipline because there is so much clutter but it is still worth the effort.


When I first got interested in bookplates I joined both The American and English bookplate societies .That gave me an opportunity to meet with and obtain bookplates from other collectors.

It still makes good sense to join these organizations.


Antiquarian and used booksellers will go out of their way to help you if you make your interest known to them. It gets harder each year as the number of open shops decrease, and the number of pre -1920's books on the shelves is decreasing. Nevertheless , it is often productive. Start looking in either the poetry or foreign language sections as owners of such books seem to have used bookplates more frequently and there is often less turnover of inventory.

Ask the bookseller if he keeps a box of detached boards.I have found some excellent 18th century plates in such boxes.

I buy a number of bookplates from two dealers. One in the states and one in England.

Tom Boss will send you bookplates on approval. Just tell him the categories you are interested in and if he has representative items he will send them on approval.

James Wilson in England has often done the same thing. His contact information is

Mr. James Wilson, 22 Castle St.,Berkhampsted Herts, HP4, 2DW, United Kingdom
Hand bookbinders often keep old bookplates and they might sell you some.
I have always enjoyed going to shows . After a while dealers will save things for you. It pays to stop at every booth and ask. The next show I will be attending is in Washington D. C. on Friday March 7th . Here is a link to book shows sorted by state:
I am almost (not quite) embarassed to admit to the fact that I used to look up the ages of bookplate collectors and wrote to all those over eighty to inquire if they knew of any collections for sale. The point is that it was a very productive and I bought two major collections that way.
For the record I am Seventy so do not bother me until 2018.
I have occassionally gotten some remarkable bookplates by writing to celebrities but I have not had too much luck in recent years.Too much mail is filtered by clerks and more often than not you get a signed photo or an autopened label.
That's about all I can think of right now.I wrote the blog early this week. If you have something to add drop me a note

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bookplate Exchanges

Daniel Dulany was a loyalist from Maryland and this is his son's plate. I received it in a recent trade.The link below has additional information about him.,M1

From Richard Wagener

From Roy Cooney

From Charles De Langhe Bookplate engravers and designers often are willing to send you a bookplate in exchange for one of yours. It's a simple way for them to meet potential customers. Of course , you need a decent bookplate to begin with .

I am always interested in exchanging bookplates with other collectors and was very pleased to receive the January , 2008 Directory Of Members from the Bookplate Society. There are about 200 + individual members in the group and about 159 have indicated a willingness to trade , along with their areas of interest. If you have been looking at this blog for a while and want to bite the bullet, come out of hiding and join an organization which gives much more than it gets , now is the time to act. The society website is

There is a good deal of information about the society, it's history,news and events, how to join, publications etc. Stop procrastinating.

By the way I am going to list the wants of collectors in some future posting. If you would like to be included send me your contact information and the kinds of bookplates you are looking for. For a while, I was spelling out my email address with dots and coms to thwart the Nigerian scammers, Irish Sweepstakes winning notifications, problems with my bank account at banks I never heard of etc. but I have now downloaded Dr. Zorba's deathray so I feel fully protected .

Here are the kinds of bookplates I am most interested in trading or buying:

18th century American,

Judaica from any country,

bookplates from the libraries of famous people from any country

plus wharever strikes my fancy.

Here is a link to a blog which lists many interesting book related blogs. It will keep you busy for a while so bookmark it if you are pressed for time.

See you next week.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bookplates From The Hollywood Compost Pile Chapter 3

George Cuckor's bookplate was designed by Paul Landacre. His library was quite large and his books are still readily available. The other legendary director Cecil B. De Mille also had a large library and his bookplate is still offered for sale by several dealers.
Bette Davis (1908-1989) .Her bookplate is more difficult to come by.
Oops- I must have downloaded Cukor image twice.

Bing Crosby, for whatever reason used scotch tape instead of glue to attach his bookplates.If you ever get one do not try to remove the tape it does not peel off without doing damage and can not be soaked off unless you want to deal with some very toxic solvents.

Some of Hume Cronin's (1911-2003) books wound up at the Strand Bookstore in New York City
about ten years ago and I still have a few loose plates for possible exchange (bookplatemaven at hotmail dot com)

Joan Crawford had another bookplate which she used in the 1920's. I have only seen one copy at the Hartford Athanaeum in the Hattie Baker collection.

I try to get old movie cards to use in conjunction with the bookplates and the best source I have found is

See you next week.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bookplate Odds And Ends

Click On Image To Enlarge -I have listed this etched bookplate for Margaret W. Atwater on Ebay (item # 310020184774) . My seller name is bookplatemaven .The plate was done by Mildred Bryant Brooks. Later this evening additional items will be put on Ebay.

UPDATE it's Monday evening
I have listed 17 items on Ebay. Here is a link that I hope will get you to my listings
Biographic Information:
Mildred Bryant Brooks (1901-1995)Born: Indiana 1901 Died: 1995
Moved with family to Long Beach, California in 1907. Her mother was a painter, her father was a scientist. She graduated “cum laude” in art from University of Southern California, under F. Tolles Chamberlin. She began etching in 1929 studying under Arthur Millier. She taught and lectured on etching and art at Stickney Art School in Pasadena, the Los Angeles Art Institute, Pomona College and University of Southern California. She worked as a Christmas card designer for Chryson’s Incorporated in the 1920s, from whom she acquired an etching press. In the later decades, she also worked as an interior designer and decorator. She was a member of the Pasadena Society of Artists. Her honors, both national and international awards include the California Society of Etchers, San Francisco 1932; Bookplate International Exhibit, Los Angeles 1933; John Taylor Arms Award, Society of American Etchers, New York 1934; Chicago Society of Etchers 1934. She has had many exhibitions including the National Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.,.

Marianne Wurlitzer, the grand-daughter of Rudolph H. Wurlitzer has several books for sale with his engraved bookplate. Her Email is

I will pick up on my series about the Hollywood Compost Pile next week. In the meantime I want to mention a few odds and ends. Dr. Erik Skovenborg collects bookplates relating to medicine , wine, and chess. The link above takes you to his most interesting web site.


Wofgang Rieger is an active bookplate dealer in Germany whose on-line catalog link is shown above.

Charles De Langhe is a engraver in France who does bookplates. I am delighted to introduce you to a young talented engraver.

See You Next Week.