Sunday, March 27, 2011

Punning and Rebus Bookplates

The bell punning bookplates are like tribbles . They keep breeding until they take over your album.
I am not sure when I started collecting punning and rebus bookplates. It just sort of happened.I had one or two near each other in an album and they started reproducing . Gloria Swanson's rebus plate is one of the most innovative ones I own.
Hettie Gray Baker worked in Hollywood for most of her adult life and built a world class collection of celebrity bookplates.The collection is at the Hartford(Conn.) Athenaeum and well worth a visit
George H. Bell was the Governor of New Hampshire
Mr. Bookman's bookplate is illustrated in The Art of the Bookplate by James Keenan
Robert O. Foote's plate was designed by Ruth Saunders

Most of the punning and rebus plates in my collection are in the English language.If you have the time and are so inclined please send me scans of examples in other languages and I will add them to this posting.
By the way, I have added a bookplate search engine to the blog .It is located on the upper left side and will enable you to find information I previously wrote about. It always amuses me when I do a search about an artist or owner and come up with something I wrote about and had completely forgotten. See you next week.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Night Special

At a moment in history when civility and stability are being undermined by stupidity and avarice it is nice to read something inspiring.

Tomorrow , I will be writing about punning and Rebus bookplates

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Sarah B. Lattimer Collection

The Sarah B. Lattimore collection arrived this week . It included about thirty duplicates by Frederick Spenceley and an equal number of duplicates by E.D. French .

It was not a large collection ( about 174 plates) but it contained many unusual items. I would like to focus on a few of the mystery plates in the collection in case one of you knows something about them and can help me.
Among the thirty Frederick Spenceley duplicates these are two of my favorites.Bird & Son was founded in 1795 and Spenceley engraved this plate for them in 1912. The company, now called The Bird Corporation is still in business today. Here is a link about their history:

The Krotona Institute of Theosophy plate was engraved in 1915. They are sill active today although at a different location.

Do any of you know who did these two bookplates using Bewick images. Based on my initial Google search of the owner's names I suspect William H Vodrey( 1872- 1954) was a prominent resident of Beaver Valley , Ohio and Thomas L. Leeming was a Brooklyn Architect.

This printed plate for Marshall Rutgers Kernochan was the highlight of the collection .It appears to be a photgraphic image by Edward Steichen.

The plate for Tony Kales is another one of the mysteries. Fellow collector Richard Schimmelpfeng determined that he was a child movie star who appeared in some of the Our Gang films. All the Walt Disney plates I have previously seen were " universal" packaged items. This one appears to have been custom designed for Mr. Kales. Was the plate done for him by Walt Disney or did he kidnap Mickey and Minnie and Pluto ?

A treasure trove of 74 books from the library of Thomas Jefferson was recently discovered.
Will wonders never cease?
President Jefferson did not use a bookplate. He used a secret code in the signature.
Follow the link for more information.

The American Antiquarian Society has done an excellent job of digitizing Paul Revere documents. including bookplates. Here is a link:
As I get further information about the mystery plates I will update this posting.
See you next Sunday

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Week in Bookplates 3/13/2011

Fellow Collector Mark Griffin sent me two lovely bookplates and I asked him to write about them. This was his response:
"As you know, the finial bookplate was produced by Ashley Benham and the swimmer bookplate was produced by Peter Waddell. Here is a little information about each bookplate.

Finial Bookplate

The finial is located atop the historic Christian Heurich Mansion located just south of Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. I see this finial every day because the Mansion is located directly across the street from my office. The Mansion was built in the late 1890’s by Christian Heurich, our local beer baron. Mr. Heurich was afraid of fire because his first brewery burned to the ground at great financial loss to him. So the Heurich Mansion was the first “fire-proof” building constructed in DC. It has concrete floors and a steel superstructure. The exterior is brick and stone. Mr. Heurich topped the Mansion’s tower with a “salamander” finial. A salamander is supposed to ward off fire. The story is that the salamander is usually the only animal to survive forest fires. The Mansion was used by the Heurich family until 1955 when it was given to the Historical Society of Washington, DC. I served the Society at various times over a period of about 25 years as Curator, General Counsel and finally as President. The Historical Society subsequently moved to larger quarters and the Mansion was acquired by The Heurich House Foundation. I was Chairman of this Foundation for a few years before I was allowed to finally go back to my preferred position admiring the Mansion from afar through my office window.

The Swimmer Bookplate

I am a swimmer. I went to Georgetown University and I have some particular history with the Healy Building which is the building on the hill shown in this image. The swimmer is supposed to be me as a young man swimming in the Potomac River in front of the GU Boathouse and looking up at the spires of the Healy Building on Georgetown's main campus. The Healy Building has a large clock tower. When I was a freshman, a friend and I managed to steal the hands of the clock. We put them in a long flower box and sent them to the new Dean of Discipline with a note that said: "From the Freshman Class, always willing to give you a hand". The Dean, a Jesuit priest, thought the hands were maces, the medieval sign of authority. He had them mounted on his office wall with our note. He was not pleased when one of the members of the engineering staff subsequently asked him why he had the missing hands from the clock on his office wall. An investigation ensued but I was never caught, thank goodness. All of this was, of course, perfect training for my later life as a Washington lawyer."

Here is a link about a $543,000 book and art swindle . The sucker was a hedge fund.

I figure this hedge fund will need more than a big winning streak to overcome this kind of bad publicity.

Two really big book shows are coming to New York City in early April. I plan to attend both .

Here are the links:

The Sarah B. Lattimore bookplate collection was up for sale and I purchased it.

If all goes according to schedule I will write about it next week.

See you then.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Washington D.C. Book Show

I purchased two copies of the Will Gilliland Jun.bookplate at the Washington Book Show (one for my collection and one to trade). I suspect it is American but need to do much more research. The family name Gilliland appears in several Google searches but the most likely candidates are from New York State. If you know something about the plate please let me hear from you.

One of the areas I focus on are bookplates from the libraries of famous people. I recently purchased this bookplate used by the Jazz legend Benny Carter (1907-2003).
Here is a link with biographical information:

It is interesting to see how the way we use words changes over time. The rubber stamp on a bookplate from The Library of the Philadelphia Hospital indicates it is from The Insane Department. I have another bookplate which I can't locate right now which is from The Widows
and Old Men's Home.

Here is another example. Nowadays, the word cheap more often than not has a negative connotation like in cheapskate. In the mid 1800's it was something to promote in your advertising.

It seemed to me that many dealers at the Washington Book Show were actively selling.
We may be getting out of the economic slump. Books , art and antiques are leading indicators. If their sales are increasing that is a good omen. I did well at the show. Once every decade you hit a perfect storm and I came home with ten eighteenth century American bookplates.

Right now I am playing catch-up ,having been away for several days so this is a short posting.

See you next Sunday.