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.

1 comment:

HWC-Chizhai said...

Hello, Mr. Lewis Jaffe

Your blog is amazing! The collections some have are extensive and very impressive! Great blog! Nice collections!
Best regards!

Huang Wuchang from Hangzhou china