Sunday, October 26, 2008

Writers and Bookplates

Exchanging duplicates with other collectors is one of the things I find most enjoyable in this little hobby I dwell on each week. In a recent exchange I received a copy of Sch├Ątze der Exlibriskunst
by Heinz Decker (Isbn 3-925300-44-9). It was published by The German Exlibris Society
The book is profusely illustrated and belongs in your reference library if you are interested in bookplates used by writers.The section that I found most interesting is called Erfundene,dedizierte und postume Dichterexlibris (loosely translated, with the assistance of Google it means invented and dedicated posthumously ) . Some of these "honorarium" plates are illustrated below.
I have unknowingly bid for several of them on Ebay .

James Joyce (1882-1941) by Johnny Friedlaender

Thomas Mann (1875-1955) by Emil Preetorius

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle( 1859- 1930) D.F.A. Sc , K.L.G.,Fec.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) by Michel Fingesten

Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) designer unknown
Here is a link to Claus Wittal , a very knowledgeable dealer and publisher who can assist you in ordering this book.
While I am wearing my book reviewer hat I would also recommend Books, A Memoir by Larry McMurtry. It has nothing to do with bookplates but if you like browsing in antiquarian bookshops you will probably enjoy reading this book.
See you next week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Philatelic Bookplates

Last year I spotted the "exlibris tattoo" in Fine Books & Collections. The Bat Country books logo was first spotted several weeks ago at

It is attached to Nathan Roberts' arm and his blog is

Here is an assortment of philatelic bookplates from the libraries of collectors and stamp dealers.

John K. Tiffany was a very prominent stamp collector.Follow the link for more information
about him.

PHILLIPS, Charles James 1863-1940. Educated King Edward’s School, Birmingham. Trained as accountant. While employed at Birmingham Assay Office, became stamp dealer in Edgbaston, 1885. Founded Birmingham P.S. 1886. Published at Edgbaston, ‘The Stamp Advertiser and Auction Record’, which became Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal when he acquired a controlling interest in that company in 1890. Wrote handbooks on Fiji [1908], Mexico [1917], Paraguay [1912], a history of Stanley Gibbons Ltd under the title ‘Fifty Years of Philately’ [1906], and ‘The Future of Philately from the Viewpoint of the Collector and Dealer’ [1924]. Disposed of his interest in the company to George Hamilton-Smith, 1922, and settled in New York. Dealt with sale of Henry J Duveen collection, and responsible for the lotting of the American section of Arthur Hind collection. Awarded Special Gold Medal of the Collectors’ Club. RDP 1921. Died in New York. His brother, William Henry Phillips (1864-1912), was also a director of Stanley Gibbons Ltd.

Designed by Carl S. Junge
For more information about Harry Lindquist follow this link:

Engraved by Harry L. Peckmore -Click on image to enlarge.
George T. Turner (1906-1980) was an expert on Internal Revenue Stamps and served as curator of philatelic holdings at The Smithsonian from 1958 to 1962

Engraved by Harry L. Peckmore

Two Pennsylvania stamp dealers

Brian Birch collects postal and philatelic bookplates and was kind enough to send me information about The Aberdeen And North Of Scotland Society bookplate .
If you have philatelic bookplates for sale or trade he can be reached at

"According to the Society records, the bookplate was designed in March 1912 by the Society’s then librarian, Peter John Anderson(1). The bookplate consists of the Society’s name on a lozenge background, in a rectangle constructed from four different printers ornaments, with a stamp in each corner. Although three of the stamps are classics from the 1840s and 1860s, the fourth is a relatively common Bavarian issue from 1911.

According to Anderson(2), The four corners of the bookplate were selected as representative of successful portraiture: Queen Victoria on the Black Penny of 1840; Washington on the U.S.A. 10c. of 1847; Hermes on the Greek issue of 1861; and the Prince Regent Luitpold on the Bavarian issue of 1856; while the border includes four varieties from the British Guiana provisionals of 1862. "


1. Jeffrey C. Stone: Private Correspondence.,November 2004 to March 2005
2. P.J. Anderson Scottish Philatelic Literature,1863-1923.,The Philatelist 1924,pp.1.9 & 5-7

Daniel Mitsui has gotten quite a few new bookplate commissions since I last wrote about him .Here is an up to date link.

Here is link for Shelley Lane Kommers ,a book illustrator who has some charming children's bookplates for sale

See you next week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

British Bookplates, More Research Required

I was looking through an album of 20th century British bookplates this morning and selected a few of my favorites. There is never enough time to research every bookplate so the backlog grows. If you know something about any of these owners or the artists please share it with us. I purchased the Alex Allan bookplate in England after seeing it in The Bookplate Society Journal (vol.v11,1989). It is a wood engraving by Anne Jope and it is one of the earliest if not the first plate depicting a computer. The owner may be the larger than life Alex Allan ,Chairman of The Joint Intelligence Commission Of The United Kingdom and Grateful Dead enthusiast. Here is a news article about him.

The Plot Thickens: After I completed this weeks blog I started doing more research about Alex Allan , the spymaster. Around July 5th of this year he was found semi - conscious , in a pool of blood at his home.There are several conflicting news stories, pneumonia , poisoning ,a botched assassination attempt and then all news coverage seems to disappear. Very strange indeed.

Update- October 13th, 2008- I am truly impressed. Alex Allan promptly responded to my Email inquiry as follows:

"Dear Lewis

Yes, the bookplate is mine. My wife was an artist, and a friend of Anne Jope's. She commissioned Anne to do the bookplate for my birthday one year.

I don't use any other bookplate, I'm afraid.

Best wishes
Alex Allan "

The etched Alice proof was executed by Bertha Gorst in 1914 for Alice B. Vail of Bangor Maine

12/29/2014- Thank you Mr. Anker
"Dear Mr Jaffe,

I have very recently aquired an etching by Bertha Aiken Gorst, and during my research into this
artist/ etcher I came across your website on which I note that you have an etched bookplate 
( Alice a proof etching 1914) by the above artist, and are requesting any information relating to Bertha Gorst.

I have manged to discover some biographical details which may be of interest to you,
which I have listed below.

Bertha Aiken Gorst.  Ne: Mrs John . G. Aiken
1873 - 1938

Born in Thornton Hough, Wirral, Cheshire, England.

Resided in Llanyollen, Wales.

Bertha Gorst also included in:
Bookplate International
Vol 8/ 2001
This information was taken from the
Lexikon der Exlibriskunstler.

I hope this information will be of some interest and assistance to you in your endeavours.

I am yours sincerely,

Keith Anker  "

The signed engraved proof shown below was done by C. W. Sherborn for President Cleveland's wife Frances. Click on the image to magnify it and see all the details.

Mr.and Mrs. Diamond of Cleveland Ohio obtained the rights to use some of John Austin's book illustrations for their bookplates. Here are some links for additional information about John Austen:

I Have previously written about cutting edge technology in the Victorian era as depicted in bookplates. Here is one of the best examples. Update-Anthony Pincott has writtten to tell me that this plate was done by Thomas Erat Harrison.

Matilda Constance Ismay was the wife of the founder of the White Star Shipping Line. The artist whose cipher is in the lower right corner is unknown to me.

The plate shown below is one which was purchased on Ebay. The owner Harry Arthur James was interested in boxing, fishing and chemistry. The artist's initials look like T.W.

James Guthrie designed this plate for Pickford Waller.

If you want to automatically receive my blog via email each week simply fill in the Feed Burner subscription request on the upper left side of the blog.There is no cost or obligation and your Email privacy is honored. See you next week.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Buying & Selling Bookplate Collections

How The Protestants Fight Communism
How could I resist buying this bit of 1950's ephemera at a local flea market yesterday.

This small plate (1 1/8 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches high) was part of the Connecticut collection I recently purchased . At first I thought it was by Robert Cairns Dobson about whom I wrote last week but the artist's cipher is from someone else.I haven't a clue who did this one. If you recognize it please let me know.

The Coltman plate shown above was also in the collection I recently purchased. Many of the plates belonged to Connecticut residents and Yale graduates. I suspect this one is American or English , probably early 19th century but I have been unable to find it in any of my reference books. If any of you know something about the owner or engraver please let me know.

One of the byproducts of writing about bookplates each week is landing on top of the heap in Google searches. Once or twice a year someone who inherited a bookplate collection, bought one at auction, or found one in a dumpster sees my name on the Internet and contacts me for guidance.

I have been involved with these transactions so often that I approach them with a clinical detachment. The "seller" is information starved. There are no price guides or auction records to give the seller a frame of reference .

I can't be an appraiser and potential buyer at the same time so most sellers do not know how to get from point A to point B. Getting to point B involves my physically examining the collection. If the collection is somewhere in the New York / Washington corridor that simplifies matters. I make house calls (sometimes). If the collection is far away and the seller feels comfortable sending it to me , that works or if the seller has a friend or relative in the area sending it to them is another option. Seeing the collection is crucial. I have seen fine collections mounted with rubber cement, scotch tape or airplane glue all of which , over a period of time ruins the paper.

How the process is consummated is very hard for me to describe because I just follow my instincts and things usually flow in a natural rhythm.

When I mentioned "dumpster" collections it is not poetic license.I personally know of three major collections which were retrieved from dumpsters. God knows how many collections ended up in city dumps.


On to another subject , The American Society Of Bookplate Collectors And Designers has just updated their website

The site has much useful information and you might even decide to join . I know of no better way to learn about bookplates , meet other collectors and exchange duplicates then to join this organization.


When you have time look at this site. It catalogs hundreds of "collector nuts' like myself.