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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the bookplate for Eugenia Pocahontas [Barber] Smith

She was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1841 to Edward Brady Barber and Sarah Dumlin Taylor Shadgett. Both of her parents immigrated from England.

She married Prof. Sidney Irving Smith in 1882. He was a professor of Zoology at Yale University.

There is no family connection to Pocahontas and was probably given the middle name because of the close proximity to the Jamestown Colony to her birth town of Richmond.

Both she and Sidney were avid readers and had an extensive library in their home. It doesn't surprise me that Eugenia had a personal bookplate for her vast collection of books.

Eugenia was my great grand aunt.

James Edward Barber
Kingwood, Texas