Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Robert Cairns Dobson

Painting by Robert Cairns Dobson

Click ON Images To ENLARGE I recently purchased a collection which contained several bookplates by Robert C. Dobson. They were for Connecticut residents and several were Yale related . Most were done in the early 1900's. None of my reference books had any information about the artist and two knowledgeable collectors told me they had never heard of him either. I was able to find the following message on the Ask Art website that had been posted by Ron O'Brien:

My great-uncle Robert Cairns Dobson was born 4 April 1881 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, attended Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard School of Art and died 11 June 1916 in Bernalillo,NM. He was buried in Tacoma, WA. He married Helen Ames Crosby and had one daughter, Barbara Dobson.

I wrote to Mr. O'Brien and he promptly responded as follows:

There’s little I can add to the information you already have. “Uncle Bob, the artist,” was always a mysterious figure in our family. He was the namesake for my father who further muddied the waters by changing his name before I was born (about 1935). It was only after his (my father’s) death that the truth began to come out and we found a whole side of my family that none of us knew about. One of my new cousins mentioned the artist uncle and the genealogists on both sides began the search. I’ve attached a few of his pictures that we’ve found. One is an early work given to a cousin in southern Rhode Island. I found “On The Veranda” at the “Askart” website you referenced. The third was purchased by someone (I can’t find the correspondence) on EBay. He had seen the AskArt item also and asked me for more detail. Along with the picture he provided details of the artist’s signature (with kind of a cipher on one) which are also attached to this email.

There is some family lore that RC Dobson did early work sketching trials for a Rhode Island newspaper, but I’ve never found anything to support it. He could have done bookplates but I never heard anything about that either. I know that he married well and that his wife’s family is much more interesting and accessible that his, coming out of some top-shelf families in Massachusetts and heavily involved in the expansion of the northern railroads all the way to Washington State, which is why his wife brought his body to Tacoma. Her father, who had been involved with rail projects all the way from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, was the area superintendent for the Northern Pacific and living in Tacoma. I’ve attached a picture of his gravestone in the Old Tacoma Cemetery. Wish I could be more help
The blown up photo of the Ellsworth Ford bookplate shows one of the ciphers Robert C.Dobson used

Update 11/30/2008 Here is a link to large number of Dobson plates at the Boston Public Library

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Old Labels

If you go to flea markets, and paper shows you will find all kinds of old labels with interesting graphics. I buy whatever is reasonably priced and strikes my fancy and put them into an ephemera album.Here are some representative examples.You can click on the images to enlarge them

I got these two Japanese labels at a flea market yesterday. Does anyone out there know what sort of product they were used for?

These two were put on patent medicine bottles in the late 19th century.

Luggage labels are very collectible.The last time I brought some duplicates to a flea market a very enthusiastic buyer purchased some to enhance his luggage.The Shepheard's label was designed by Ernst Dryden

The Allentown Pennsylvania Paper show is coming soon (October 4th) For a complete list of upcoming paper and book shows follow this link

Next Sunday I will be out of town ( my daughter's wedding) and the blog will be updated when I return. See you then.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Doctor's Bookplates

Book owners in certain professions are more apt to use bookplates.The professions that come to mind are magicians, poets and physicians. Here are some interesting bookplates from the medical profession. I have not included very much about specialties but I will mention that Dr.Hopping was a Proctologist in New Jersey. If you are a physician currently using a bookplate and would like to send me a scan to add to this posting please do so. Doctor Walford's plate is dated 1754 and was engraved by Yates
Dr.Darnell's plate was designed by his wife Mildred Hollis Darnell. His practice was in Germantown, Pa. and he was on the staff at Hahnemann Hospital

This doctor has the illegible handwriting gene so common in the medical profession. If you click on the image the name will enlarge If you can decipher it please let me know.

Dr. Bayley was a professor of Neurology at Hahnemann Medical College. I have always been fond of this haunting image. I have a faint recollection of a very similar plate used by his son.

Dr. Burbank was a Rheumatologist in New York City

Doctor Dolley was the president of The American Association for Thoracic Surgery in 1943

Dr. Jarcho's plate fits into two of my collecting interests , Judaica and physicians. It was engraved by Arthur Engler.

Here is an excellent site devoted to medical bookplates and ephemera.
One last thing: Claus Wittal a bookplate dealer in Germany has a very comprehensive website well worth looking at.
See you next week.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Adams Family, Part Two/ Kung Foo Frogs

Kung Foo Frogs , originally brought to our shores in a shipment of tires from Japan have been spotted in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. The bookplate for Mr. Miyazaki illustrates their strange mating ritual. It is not wise to approach these frogs during the September mating season.
On Thursday and Friday I went to the Philadelphia Free Library to look at the bookplate collection(s). Out of all the items I examined these were the two that made the most lasting impression. Click On Images To Enlarge

For biographical information on Admiral Sims click on this link:

The name label shown above was used by President John Adams and is in the collection of the Boston Public Library.The name label below is ,to the best of my knowledge, from the library of some other individual named John Adams. It will be included in a September 27th sale at
J.J. Keating


The Bookplate Society has a nice selection of bookplates for sale. Just follow the link above.