Saturday, February 28, 2009

Collector Profile,Richard Schimmelpfeng

My Background: I’m a Midwesterner, from the Chicago area. I attended Lake Forest College and the University of Illinois and then took a M.S. degree in Library Science from Columbia University. I worked at Washington University in St. Louis for ten years, then came to the University of Connecticut in Storrs in 1965, where I started the Rare Books and Special Collections Dept. in the Library. I retired in 1992 and have since volunteered as a cataloger in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

How I Started Collecting Bookplates: I taught the history of printing and rare books in addition to my regular job and in 1971 realized what a delight bookplates are. I contacted Audrey Arellanes who was editor for the ASBCD and began my connection with bookplates. It was Audrey who got me to index the society publications. My first real collection of bookplates was acquired from Mary Alice Ercolini, whom I knew, and that led to exchanges and purchases from other collectors here and abroad. My collection now contains many many thousands of exlibris, mostly from the 1880’s to the present.

What I Collect: My collecting interests are primarily pictorial plates in all media, although I admire wood engraving and etching. The current bookplates created in color etchings from Eastern European artists are particularly admired and I collect the work of E.D. French, the Spenceleys, A.N. Macdonald, W.F. Hopson, Sherborn, and the later European artists Reuter, Reitsma Valenca, Vannuccini, Bulder, Estiarte and many many more. The work of Australian and New Zealand artists is another interest and I have a major collection them. I have a reference collection of more than 600 titles as well as periodicals. The arrangement of my bookplates is by artist.
In addition to exlibris I collect modern paperweights, books on calligraphy, examples of fine printing from private presses, books on fables, and the writings of Terry Pratchett.

Elizabeth Watson Diamond was a remarkable collector. She commissioned many artists to create bookplates for her library.These are two outstanding examples.The horse head was done by Paul Landacre in 1939. It is illustrated on P.42 in The Golden Era of American Bookplate Design by William E. and Darlene J. Butler. Dr. Butler states (and I agree ) that "This is a bookplate which can readily be classified as a print."

The punning bookplate was done in the early 1940s by Kálmán Kubinyi of Cleveland Ohio .

I have listed these two items on Ebay and if you are an impulse buyer here is a link: On March 2nd I will post the winner of the tattoo bookplate contest. It is now Saturday evening (7:30 P.M. E.S.T.) so if you get off your butt there is still time to submit your entry. Scroll down to my January 31st posting for all the details.
3/2/2009 Update. The winner is Keith Scheid.
His winning entry is: "The College Of Arms"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Collector Profile John Titford /A Pair Of Hearts

Occupation : I am a professional genealogist * and writer who lives in Derbyshire, England.

A sound working knowledge of heraldry has helped me in my bookplate quest.

My wife Heather and I spend many happy hours around the kitchen table, using copies of Papworth's Ordinary and other printed, manuscript and Internet sources in an attempt to identify anonymous heraldic bookplates.

Collecting Interest : I am a passionate and enthusiastic collector of the bookplates of the

American designer E D French

and am always keen to add plates or related ephemera to my EDF collection.

Other artists of interest include Americans (J W Spenceley, S L Smith, A N MacDonald) and Brits (C W Sherborn, G W Eve).

* After John submitted his profile I asked him to add a brief description of the ways he can assist bookplate collectors. The following is his response:

I can help you Identify your mystery plates and compile biographies of their owners! I am happy to undertake consultancy work in matters concerning British heraldry and genealogy. Hourly charges are UK£40.00, and queries should be addressed to

Please tell me all you know about each bookplate so far, and attach a scan of the plate(s) in question.

Dr. Norman Shaftel (1915-1998) was a graduate of The University of Cincinnati School of Medicine. He was a medical historian and a book collector. His wood engraved bookplate was designed by Ernest Huber

I am of the opinion this is a double punning plate for two reasons : The shield with the heart does not appear in my reference book (Fairbairn's Crests) so I have to assume it was made up by Rev. Hart to be a pun. The crudely drawn deer (hart) might also have been an additional pun.

Rev. Hart lived in Richmond Virginia in the early 1800's so this is probably one of the earliest American punning plates.
Mr. Joseph McMillan, The director of research at The American Heraldry Society was kind enough to respond to my inquiry about the Hart plate as follows:
"You wouldn't find the shield with the hearts in Fairbairn's Crests because it isn't a crest. The crest is the hart (deer) standing on top of the helmet. These arms are given in Bolton's American Armory, citing this bookplate as the source. They are clearly punning, or what are called "canting" arms, both as to the shield and as to the crest, although that doesn't mean the Rev. Mr. Hart originated them himself, since such puns are one of the most common sources of armorial design going back centuries.To determine whether the arms are of British or Irish origin or were devised and adopted unilaterally would require some digging in armorials, not collections of crest. The most useful of these is Papworth's Alphabetical Dictionary of Coats of Arms Belonging to Families in Great Britain, known as Papworth's Ordinary because it is arranged by the principal charge on the field. Papworth is available through Google Books, and it doesn't include these arms. That means they probably wouldn't be in Burke's General Armorial, either, since Papworth is basically an index to Burke. See our pages on England and Scotland on researching ancestral arms, for the other English and Scottish references that are available. Unfortunately I haven't done Ireland yet, but contacting the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland may yield information as to whether the arms appear in the Irish records."

New Bookplate Exhibit


I received this email earlier in the week and thought some of you might wish to participate.

"Dear Mr. Lewis Jaffe,
Thank you kindly for your interest in our bookplate project. I am co-curating with Niki Litts of the Kinston Arts Center and Professor Sarah Faris (Virginia Commonwealth University).
We have about 15 artists committed at this time and are taking submissions in an ongoing process.
Thanks kindly for your interest! Any assistance you might offer would be most appreciated.
- Charles Philip Brooks
Call to Artists / Printmakers / Works on Paper - "Ex Libris" Collaboration This is an ongoing call for printmakers and artists who make drawings or other works on paper!
A Collaborative exhibition of Ex Libris - (bookplate designs). This exhibition will be collaborative - with artists paying their own shipping and framing costs. We do have several venues expressing interest in hosting, including the Kinston Art Center in North Carolina. In addition, we are planning to document this exhibition in catalogue form. All styles and printmaking techniques will be considered - Although we do confess a preference for woodcut, linocut, etching, drawing and various traditional printmaking techniques.
Please feel free to get in touch if interested - Designs may be sent to: "A Gray Day Fine Art"- re: Ex Libris 122 North Church Street Rocky Mount, NC 27804 or email
(Please put "Ex Libris" in your subject line.)"
See you next week .

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Collector Profile Rima Brickus/ A Bunch of Smiths

The First Plate Purchased by Rima Brickus from Tom Boss

Background: I came to America after WWII with my parents. They were political refugees who had fled Stalin's genocide of Lithuanians and other nationalities under the subjugation of Communist Russia. I grew up in Cambridge MA in 1950's and 1960's America, but lived in a household that maintained the sensibilities of 1930's Europe. Because Cambridge was an academic town, exposure to fine libraries and bookstores led to my appreciation of antiquarian books and thus bookplates.

Interests: I have a master's degree in Library Science, but most of my professional career was spent as an owner/broker of a successful real estate firm specializing in the sale of Victorian houses. I am interested in people, books, art, and architecture. I am drawn to bookplates because they are the perfect combination of fine graphic art and “people stories”.
My First Bookplate: I bought my first bookplate from Tom Boss many years ago at an international art show in Boston. It was engraved by Sidney Lawton Smith for Isabel and Larz Anderson and depicted the Italian garden of their turn-of the century estate in Brookline, MA . As a child I had had free run of the 64-acre property which by then was a public park. The grounds included an abandoned mansion, the remnants of a magnificent Italian garden, Greek and Roman statuary, and a beautiful tempietto set on the bank of a man-made pond with a foot-bridge.

My Collection: Because of my heritage, I have a good collection of modern Lithuanian bookplates, but my preference now is for early American bookplates. I am partial to the work of E.D. French, Sidney Lawton Smith and A.N. Macdonald. My goal is to complete my E.D. French collection and to acquire more 18th century American bookplates.


This large (4 1/4 inches wide by 6 inches high ) bookplate was engraved by Thomas Johnston around 1740 for William Peartree Smith of New York (Allen # 808). It is an extremely rare .

Sidney Lawton Smith was one of America's finest pictorial bookplate engravers, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. If you want to learn more about him I suggest the following book : Sidney Lawton Smith Designer, Etcher, Engraver with Extracts from his Diary and a Check-List of his Bookplates published 1931 by Charles E. Goodspeed & Co.

Click on images to enlarge and see more details.

I am focusing on Smith images today , some were engraved by Sidney Lawton Smith and some are for owners named Smith. How can you resist not wanting to know more about someone named Eugenia Pocahontas Smith . From a cursory Google search it seems her maiden name was Barber and she married a Professor Sidney Irving Smith.I am assuming she was in some way a descendant of Pocahontas. The artist is unknown to me and by clicking on the image you can enlarge his (her) cipher .

The bookplate contest is still running. Scroll down to my January 31st posting for further information. It will be difficult to choose a winner because the submissions , so far, are excellent.
See you next week.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Collector Profile,Nina Allen/More Punning Bookplates

Woodcut by Andy English

Occupation: I teach American literature at Suffolk University in Boston, and so it’s no surprise that both of my personal bookplates reference literary works. The one shown here is a wood engraving designed by Andy English. The quote, “All goes onward and outward,” is from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” One day I may write an article about the slouch hat in American literature, but in the meantime I’ve put the hat in my bookplate because it became Whitman’s signature piece from the moment Samuel Hollyer engraved his portrait for the frontis of the first edition of Leaves of Grass (1855). Hollyer also designed and engraved numerous bookplates, several of which are in my collection.

Collecting Interests: My collecting interests are pretty much all over the map. One of my favorite bookplates is a 1925 wood engraving designed by the New Zealand printmaker Stephen Champ for Jane Mander, who was a New Zealand novelist.

More Punning Bookplates-Since I wrote about punning bookplates several weeks ago, a few more have been unearthed.

Dr. A.W. Clark uses a distinctive cipher which is hidden in the cliff on the punning plate for Helen and George Beach.

The Steele plate was done by Fred Thompson

I do not know who did the Weed plate.Personally, I like Thistles and have never thought of them as weeds.

The Muriel Clark Corby plate was done by John Berryman

Plate For Austin Jenkins Lily

The George F. Baer plate was done by Will Jordan


Odds and Ends
The bookplate contest is alive and well. See last weeks posting for all the details and send in your entry before it's too late.

I listed 25 bookplates on Ebay . Here is a link: