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

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