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.

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Great that you have some evidence that Allan is still around. Though why is it all being hushed up I wonder?
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