Thursday, September 16, 2010

Universal Bookplates by Edith Anderson Rights

I was delighted to receive an article about the identification of universal bookplates (mass produced for multiple users) from Edith A. Rights the author of Macdonald Bookplates .For those of you who handle bookplates on a regular basis identification of such plates may be intuitive but for new collectors this information will be very helpful.

This week's mystery bookplate is for Mildred Pearce . It is 3 inches wide by 6 inches high and was designed by R.Carex. I removed it from a 1911 edition of Birthright published in 1911 . Searching for clues on Google was not very helpful so your input would be appreciated.
Lew Jaffe

"This program is from the first production of plays under the Abbey Theatre name. The cover is indicative of the renewed interest in the old Irish legends. Maeve, Queen of Connacht is drawn with an Irish wolfhound. Artist Elinor Mary Monsell Darwin originally cut the design on wood. WB Yeats met the artist at Coole, Lady Gregory’s estate in Galway. WB later requested a design for Dun Emer Press for which Elinor drew Lady Emer standing by a tree (Visit Cuala Press to view the illustration)."

Universal Bookplates with similar designs

Perforated Universal Bookplates

Universal Bookplate with message on reverse side

Universal Bookplates By Edith Anderson Rights

Universal bookplates very likely became popular in the Gilded Age period, for what the aristocratic people of a country enjoyed, other citizens with lesser means also wanted to have. So artist entrepreneurs with printing shops and other small companies began to produce bookplate designs to which an owner’s name could be added as requested. There are many small catalogues of such designs, but usually these are undated.
I was once asked by a person who knew relatively little about bookplates how I ‘knew’ a particular bookplate was a universal or not. I was nearly at a loss for words to articulate my criteria, so I considered my answer for some time before trying to list my reasons.
Three physical distinctions were obvious. First, I realized I excluded those bookplates from the 18th and 19th centuries with a hand written owner’s name; but that an early 20th century bookplate with a blank ribbon or open space for adding an owner’s names I judged to be quite probably a universal. An individual would purchase a supply of bookplates to which could be added the appropriate name. Since a purchaser could have the name commercially printed in the ribbon space, this makes the identification more difficult, particularly when the name font and ink color match those of the bookplate proper. See the owner’s name on each of the bookplates for Allis (Antioch M85), Rappaport (Antioch 8M85), Draper, Theall, Athay and Sandler. A second major clue in identifying a universal is finding bookplates with an identical design (or with minor changes in design or size) but with different owner names. Again, this is not always a safe determination, for there are reasons that a specific commissioned design may have been reused. An artist’s signature on the bookplate is also a broad general, but not infallible, means of separating a commissioned bookplate from a universal. There have been several artists* hired by commercial bookplate firms to prepare designs, or the firm may later have purchased the right to reproduce a design the artist created for another purpose.
Occasionally (and finally) universal bookplates do appear with advertising printed on the back (see Estill), with one or more edges perforated (blank, Praster, Webb), or with the name of some organization as part of the text with (Rights) or without the addition of an owner’s name.

*See articles about Bank B. Gordon (Bookplate Journal v.19 #1, March 2001), Juanita Gould (Bookplates In The News)#97, July 1994), and Lynd Ward (Bookplates In The News #105a, July 1996).

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