Thursday, April 28, 2011

Norman Rockwell Bookplate - From the collection of Michele Behan

The other day, I ran across a book in an antiques shop with a bookplate signed by Norman Rockwell.
At the bottom left corner (so small that it doesn't come out well in a scan) is a copyright: A "C" in a circle with what looks like BB underneath it. The bookplate is 4 1/4" tall and 2 1/2" wide.
To put the bookplate in historical perspective, it's affixed to a 1936 book titled Official Report of the Sixth National Training Conference of Scout Executives of the Boy Scouts of America, French Lick, Indiana, March 11-18, 1936.
A helpful curator at the Norman Rockwell Museum informed me that the original painting --- Scouts of Many Trails ---on which this bookplate is based is held at the National Scouting Museum and the design was utilized for the 1937 Boy Scout Calendar.   However, she had never seen a bookplate with this image.
The National Scouting Museum consulted their archivist and he had never seen or heard of a bookplate like this, either.  Their curator wrote, "We have had a handful of bookplates come through, but none with a Norman Rockwell image, or a Brown and Bigelow copyright."
I decided to contact Brown & Bigelow, who are luckily still in business. The woman at B&B told me that they don't have any type of historical archive at their company, but she knows that bookplates were not in their regular "line." Back in the day, they apparently had a lot of strange products that they would manufacture for advertising purposes, even horse blankets!

However, she said that Brown & Bigelow would also do custom orders for people or companies who ordered something made to their specifications.

The woman said the fact that this bookplate has the BB copyright insignia at the bottom left corner means the company either specially made the product for whomever custom-ordered it or the company sold the licensing rights to the Norman Rockwell image (which they owned since they commissioned the painting for the calendar) to a third party, who then made the bookplates.

Lew was kind enough to allow me to post this on his blog.  Have any fellow collectors seen another example of this bookplate? 
Michele Behan

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dealer/Collector Profile Thomas G. Boss


    I am a book dealer and collector in Salem, Massachusetts who many years ago strayed into the fascinating world of bookplates. In  1981 , after having collected bookplates in a mild way, I was offered and purchased the dealer stock of  Frank Allen .It contained nearly 18,000 plates. In the years since I have maintained the largest dealer stock ( 20,000 plus) in the United States.
My stock of rare books principally includes items which are notable for their illustration, binding or fine printing, mainly between the years of 1890 and 1945. I have examples of "the book as art" from all of the major design movements in this time period, namely arts & crafts, art nouveau, Wiener Werkstatte, art deco, etc, etc.
My Interest In The Club Bindery and Early American Bookbinders
                 Bookbinding in leather is a major interest as both a collector and dealer, especially the whole range of American work from the 17th century to the present. In 2004, I mounted an exhibition at The Grolier Club in New York called "Bound To Be The Best,". My focus was on the superlative work of The Club Bindery during their short existence starting in 1895. These books came almost entirely from my thirty-five year personal collection . I also  published a large, color-illustrated book on The Club Bindery that same year.
What I Collect and Sell
                 My dealer stock of bookplates is vast and it , includes early American ex-libris, as well as English, French, German and Australian examples. I especially like Edwin Davis French's work and collect as well as sell it. I also enjoy plates from the art deco period, c.1930, with stylized images of skyscrapers and automobiles. Bookplates printed in gilt on leather are another interest, as are those of famous people,mainly those involved in the book arts. My collection, although I've never counted, may be about 10,000 plates.
Books I Will Be Publishing
                 I'm planning  to publish two books on bookplates. Each will  contain an original example of the artist's work. The first will be on Jessie King's Sam Mavor bookplate and the second on the famous book collector Francis Kettaneh and his leather ex-libris. I published a similar book containing four original bookplates by Rockwell Kent a few years ago.
I recently edited Bookplates of the Club of Odd Volumes, a book picturing the plates of past and present members of this Boston institution founded in 1887.
Note From Lew Jaffe- I have known Tom Boss for over thirty years and he has contributed mightily to my own collection. He can be contacted at or you can visit his website
Next week I plan to write about bookplates with American flags.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This Week in Bookplates 4/17/2011

It is always a pleasure to find a talented new bookplate designer.I stumbled upon Sue Woollatt's blog and asked her to write something for us and here is her response.:

"I'm new to bookplates, but have been wood engraving for a few years  
and had prints accepted into the Society of Wood Engravers annual  
exhibition in the UK. The seagull seems to crop up in much of my work  
(maybe only small, strutting on a roof or out-staring a local cat )and  
is starting to be a bit of an icon, which is why I chose it for my  
first design.
I love the way bookplates tell something of the person who is named on  
them. Some are very witty and the puns can be terrible! All good stuff.
The story of the making of this bookplate can be seen on my blog here:
Tech Information:
The image size is 2 1/8" (5.4cm) x 3" (7.6cm)
Engraved on maple (next time I'll use box or lemonwood as you can  
engrave finer detail)
Printed on a Farley cylinder galley press using Lawrence's carbon  
black letterpress ink
Paper is Japanese Sunome Senaka"
If you wish to contact Sue Woollatt her email address is 
                      New Information About J.Bel-Chier, Allen #75
Charles Dexter Allen's American Bookplates is the best reference currently
avaialable for the study and identification of 18th American bookplates.
It is ,however,not without flaws.
Fellow collector Anthony Pinncott has done some excellent research about Allen #75.
and has discovered that  Allen was incorrect. Mr. Bel-Chier was  not American.
Here is what Anthony has written:
"Jacobean Armorial Bookplate of J Bel-Chier   Not in Franks, but F.2029 is the impression in black. It dates from about 1730. 
Below the helm is a label for cadency, so the owner of this bookplate was his father's eldest son.
This bookplate was included as #75 in Charles Dexter Allen's American Book-Plates. Allen declares it to be the "plate of the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire 1730-41 (Jonathan Belcher). The arms (says Allen) are the same as borne on the plate of his son Jonathan, except that his plate shows a label for difference. There is also a shortening of the motto in the other plate."
However, according to RR James (whose bookplate collection is at the Royal College of Surgeons), Belchier was a surgeon. This helps us to identify him as the John Belchier (1706-1785) who was at Guy's Hospital 1736-68. He discovered at about the time of his Guy's appointment that the vegetable dye madder stained newly forming bone tissue, opening up the study of the growth and development of the skeleton, which was vigorously taken forward by Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau and John Hunter. Belchier was awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society in 1737. He was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital, a charity created by Royal Charter in 1739, and was a member of the Court of Assistants at the Company of Surgeons from 1751 to 1785. [Wikipedia]
The Oxford DNB entry is more extensive:  "John Belchier  (bap. 1706, d. 1785), surgeon, the son of James Belchier, innkeeper and bailiff of Kingston, was born at Kingston, Surrey, and was baptized there on 5 March 1706. He entered Eton College as a king's scholar in 1716. On leaving school he was apprenticed to William Cheselden, head surgeon at St Thomas's Hospital, London. By perseverance Belchier became eminent in his profession, and in 1736 he was appointed surgeon to Guy's Hospital. In 1732 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and his name appears on the list of the council from 1769 to 1772. He contributed some papers to the society's Philosophical Transactions. On Belchier's retirement as surgeon of Guy's Hospital he was elected one of its governors, and also a governor of St Thomas's Hospital. He had an exaggerated reverence for the name of Guy, saying ‘that no other man would have sacrificed £150,000 for the benefit of his fellow-creatures’. In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1743 is the following story:
One Stephen Wright, who, as a patient, came to Mr. Belchier, a surgeon, in Sun Court, being alone with him in the room clapt a pistol to his breast, demanding his money. Mr. Belchier offered him two guineas, which he refused; but, accepting of six guineas and a gold watch, as he was putting them in his pocket Mr. Belchier took the opportunity to seize upon him, and, after a struggle, secured him. (GM, 1st ser., 13, 1743, 50)
A stout but active man, Belchier died suddenly in Sun Court, Threadneedle Street, on 6 February 1785. His manservant had attempted to raise his master but was told ‘No John—I am dying. Fetch me a pillow; I may as well die here as anywhere else’ (Wilks and Bettany, 127). He was buried in the founder's vault in the chapel attached to Guy's Hospital."
                         Mystery Bookplate Charles Ricksher
Here is this weeks mystery bookplate. I purchased it on Ebay from Exeter Rare Books 
The artist's cypher  is enlarged below.
There was a physician in New England who might have been the owner but that is just
speculation on my part. Does anyone out the recognize the Cypher? 
Here is my contact information:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Treasures From Two Shows & One Store 4/8/2011

 Designed by Anthony Euwer.

The Clarise Sears Ramsay plate was engraved by A.W.Sinclair
J.Frank Dobie was an American folklorist and writer
Rockwell Kent changed wives and bookplates frequently.
The Eleanor  Sears Plate was engraved for Mr. D. B. Updike by Alfred James Downey
This hand colored plate was designed by Carl  S.Junge
This is the mystery plate.There is a pencil notation on the verso."American Woman's Assn.  N.Y."The artists initials are LH
Andrew T. Jergins was a California Oilman
Not to be confused with the Diebold people who made the crappy voting machines
On Friday April 8th I went to The A.B.A.A show, the shadow show and the Argosy Book Store.Since some of you may be visiting New York City before next years book shows let me mention that the Argosy Book Shop should be on your list of places to look for bookplates. It is located at 116 East 59th St.
When you go stop at the outside stalls
 That is where I got the John T. Diebold (1926-2005) plate.,He was  a futurist who made accurate predictions about the importance of computers long before most of his colleagues.While there you should go to the print room .They have a large selection of bookplates.In addition, the basement is loaded with many inexpensive books with bookplates of merit..By next Sunday I hope to have found a way to insert live links using this Firefox browser.. See you then.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Magician's Bookplates

The one shown above is one of my favorites.
The link shown above contains an excellent checklist of magician's bookplates.
I am using a new browser (Fire Fox 4) and some links are not automatically activated.I have to confer with my seven year old grandson to get   this straightened out.    In the meantime, you can copy and paste it.
 The plate for Dunninger was done by Mahlon Blaine
 Everyone knows this guy.
 Mr. Zufall like Dunninger was a psychic entertainer.

 I prefer the bookplates with striking images and July 4th colors.
In the 1920's and 30's many Hollywood celebrities used bookplates.The same is true of magicians and magic book collectors..I have scanned a few of my favorites and would welcome additional scans which will be added to this posting.. Send the scans to

I will be in New York City on Friday April 8th attending two book shows.If you plan to be in the city that day and have bookplates for sale or trade I would love to hear from you.
See you next Sunday

If memory serves me right I believe the plate shown above was the first magician's plate I ever got.
The Li-Chung-Soo plate is  in the Cory Shull collection..
Hopefully , I will find one to add to my own collection

Friday, April 01, 2011

New Bookplate by Daniel Mitsui

On Sunday I will write about the bookplates of Magicians so be sure to tune in.
Daniel Mitsui just completed this bookplate for a client.

The words along the edges are select verses from the famous Jewish Prayer Shema Yisrael, Hear Oh Israel. The 4 letters on the 4 corners are the 4 letters traditionally placed on the 4 sides of a dreidel, which stand for Nes Gadol Haya Po, a great miracle happened here.

See you on Sunday.