Sunday, August 28, 2011

Recent Discoveries and Pending Research

One of the joys of bookplate collecting is doing research and discovering new information.The Internet speeds up the process at the price of  sometimes copying some one's sloppy research.
Here are a few recent finds and what I have unearthed: so far:
The black circular plate shown below was already in my collection when I purchased the blue variation at Papermania last week. I knew the plate was illustrated in  Bookplates Of The Nineties by Keith Clark
(Plate XIV). Here is what I learned on page 15.

The Willis Plate is Allen # 943
It contains a hidden engraved date not mentioned by Allen.
.It is so well hidden it sometimes takes me several minutes to find even though I know where it is located.

8/30/2011-New Information
Upon further research I  believe the Willis plate shown above may not be Early American.
In the British Museum Catalogue of the Franks Collection it is listed as #F31975
with the following notation " The plate of Richard Willis with altered inscription and Mountaine's
signature erased 1751"

9/5/2011 -Additional Information from fellow collector Anthony Pincott:

Concerning the Willis bookplate, details of it as the second state of a bookplate for a Richard Willis are to be found in the 1st series of Bookplate Journal in Vol.20 No.1, p.46. 
However, I’m not 100% certain that this correctly identifies the bookplate’s owner. There was a Richard Willis, son of Richard, christened on 28 May 1719, but this was at Morland, Westmorland (now Cumbria), not Marland.
I have also tried to find a marriage of an Elizabeth S. with Richard Willis, or alternatively an Elizabeth daughter of a Richard Willis, but again nothing convincing so far – the name Willis is too common

I know very little about the two transportation plates shown below.The Traffic Club of Chicago is still around so I will send them an inquiry this week.Does anyone out there have any information about Will and Lucy Humbert the owner's of the other plate ?
Here is my contact information:
That's it for now-
See you next Sunday

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Guest Article By Michele Behan

Featured Writer Michele Behan
Lew’s recent blog post of July 16, in which he asked Keith Cranmer to explain the design elements of the bookplate he engraved for James Goode, inspired me to analyze this unusual bookplate for Harold Schjoth Palmer.

Harold Schjoth Palmer (1890-1959) was the first professor of geology at the University of Hawaii and a pioneer in the geologic and hydraulic study of ground water in Hawaii.

Harold Palmer’s bookplate is full of curious symbols and mysteries, including the designer, whose initials, F. S. P., do not correspond to any known bookplate engravers.

Both Lew and a friend suggested that perhaps the designer was related to Harold Schjoth Palmer, since the last two initials in their names, S.P., are identical.

That little clue led me to further research, which revealed that Palmer’s mother, Fredrikke Marie Schjoth Palmer, was born in Norway in 1860.

According to a memorial biography of Harold Schjoth Palmer published by the University of Hawaii, she “also showed much artistic ability and later studied with the best teachers of portrait painting in Christiania (now Oslo) and Berlin.”

So it is reasonable to conclude that Fredrikke Schjoth Palmer (F.S.P.) was the artist and designer of her son’s intriguing bookplate.

Fredrikke Schjoth Palmer is listed as an artist known for magazine illustration and figure painting. She was a staff artist for Woman’s Journal, a women’s rights periodical published from 1870-1931.

The curious traveler on Palmer’s bookplate bears a strong resemblance to Gandalf, the wizard character created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Aside from the staff, the traveler is holding in his other hand something that looks like a large leaf or an enormous feather.

This puzzled me until I remembered Lew writing that bookplates often contain rebus symbolism. Of course! The traveler is holding a large palm leaf, corresponding to the last name of Palmer.

Harold Palmer’s Norwegian ancestry on his mother's side explains the Viking ship at the top of the bookplate. But what about the Gandalfian traveler?

It was said of Gandalf that Tolkien derived his inspiration from Odin the Wanderer. In a letter of 1946, Tolkien wrote that he thought of Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer." Other commentators have also compared Gandalf to the Norse god Odin in the guise of a "Wanderer" --- presenting as an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff.
So again, Harold Palmer’s Norwegian mother incorporated the myths and symbols of her native land in her design of this bookplate.

The symbolism at the bottom left corner of the bookplate is a reference to Harold Schjoth Palmer’s graduation from Yale in 1912. The “miner’s badge” of crossed pick and sledgehammer directly above Harold Schjoth Palmer’s name is a representation of his profession as a geologist.

The last symbol on the bookplate is the only one that still has me stumped. If anyone can explain the winged griffin pictured on the lower right corner, please post a comment!

Comment Submitted By Jennie Coleman:
Before I read through the text in its entirety I had already studied the bookplate and consequently expected to read some reference to the Welsh dragon (as opposed to winged griffin) at bottom right hand corner of the plate. Might it be that there is some Welsh ancestry in Palmer’s background? There’s mining aplenty in Wales – coal in the south and slate in the north. Or, did Palmer have academic associations with the Welsh mining industry?

I could well be drawing a rather long bow here, but you did ask for suggestions!

Kind regards
Jennie Coleman

Additional thoughts from Michele

Harold Palmer’s bookplate was full of curious symbols and mysteries. In my article which Lew published on August 21, I wrote, “The last symbol on the bookplate is the only one that still has me stumped. If anyone can explain the griffin pictured on the lower right corner, please post a comment!”
Thank you for the comment(s) which have been posted so far.
In the time since I wrote that article on analyzing the design elements of a bookplate, the mystery of the griffin haunted me. I kept thinking, "How can a mythical griffin relate to Harold Schjoth Palmer?"
From Wikipedia:

“The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Greek: γρύφων, grýphōn, or γρύπων, grýpōn, early form γρύψ, grýps; Latin: gryphus) is a legendary creature of the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature.”
The duality of the griffin creature kept resonating in my brain: Half lion, half eagle.
Then, an idea hit me: Harold Schjoth Palmer’s ancestry was half Norwegian (mother) and half American (father). The eagle is a distinctly American icon, but what about the lion? I had a hunch that there might be a connection between the lion and Norway.
When I researched the country of Norway, I was astounded to discover that the coat of arms of Norway is described as “a crowned, golden lion rampant holding an axe with an argent blade, on a crowned, triangular and red escutcheon.”
A griffin is a cross between a lion and an eagle. Harold Palmer, in the eyes of his artist mother, could certainly be no less!
The griffin on Palmer’s bookplate may have been meant to symbolize Harold Palmer's mixed maternal and paternal ancestry ... the lion of Norway blended with the eagle of America.

I want to thank Michele for submitting this article and encourage you all to submit articles and bookplate questions.
I also wish to thank Jim Lewis for submitting scans of silent movie stars which I will be adding to last week's (August 14th) posting.
Lew Jaffe


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Silent Film Star Bookplates -Part Seven-The Shakers & Movers

Bookplate Submitted by Fellow collector Jim Lewis

He was born Roderick La Rocque in Chicago, Illinois. He began appearing in stock theater at the age of seven and eventually ended up at the Essanay Studios in Chicago where he found steady work until the studios closed. He then moved to New York City and worked on the stage until he was noticed by Samuel Goldwyn who took him to Hollywood. Over the next two decades, he appeared in films and made the transition to sound films.
In 1927, he married Hungarian actress Vilma Bánky in a lavish and highly publicized wedding. They were married until his death in 1969.

Richard Wallace's Bookplates was designed by Leota Woy and submitted by Jim Lewis

Co-founder of Vitagraph Studio

Herbert Brenon's plate was desihned byW. Wilke and printed by J.H. Nash

Herbert Brenon (13 January, 1880 – 21 June, 1958) was a film director during the era of silent movies through the 1930s. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and was educated at St Paul's School and at King's College London. Before becoming a director, he performed in vaudeville acts with his wife, Helen Oberg.
Some of his more noteworthy films were the first movie adaptations of Peter Pan (1924) and Beau Geste (1926), Sorrell and Son (1927) for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director in the 1st Academy Awards, Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) with Lon Chaney, Sr., and The Flying Squad (1940), his last. He died in Los Angeles, California and was interred in a private mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY.

Ernst Lubitsch (January 28, 1892 – November 30, 1947) was a German-born film director. His urbane comedies of manners gave him the reputation of being Hollywood's most elegant and sophisticated director; as his prestige grew, his films were promoted as having "the Lubitsch touch."
In 1947 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his distinguished contributions to the art of the motion picture, and he was nominated three times for Best Director.

Cecil Blount DeMille (August 12, 1881 – January 21, 1959) was an American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. He was renowned for the flamboyance and showmanship of his movies. Among his best-known films are The Ten Commandments (1956), Cleopatra (1934), and The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

This series went on longer than I expected and will  eventually become a limited edition book for my own enjoyment and a few gifts for friends and family.
If you have additional scans of bookplates that belong in this series please send them to me at

Thats a wrap !

Monday, August 08, 2011

Silent Film Star Bookplates - Part Six

John Gilbert (July 10, 1897 – January 9, 1936) was an American actor and a major star of the silent film era.
Known as "the great lover," he rivaled even Rudolph Valentino as a box office draw. He was often cited as one of the high profile examples of an actor who was unsuccessful in making the transition to talkies.
John Gilbert's bookplate was designed by Leota Woy
WallaceReid designed his own bookplate

Lois Moran appeared in a couple of silent movies in the early 1920s. She is probably best known for her role, as Laurel Dallas, daughter of the title role in the 1925 film Stella Dallas. She appeared in early sound movies such as Behind That Curtain (1929), and some musical movies, such as A Song of Kentucky (1929), Words and Music (1929), and Mammy (1930). Like many actors and actresses from the silent film era, she did not make a successful transition to the talkies.
She also had a brief affair with writer F. Scott Fitzgerald while he was married to Zelda Fitzgerald. He once remarked that she was "The most beautiful girl in Hollywood". She was also an inspiration for the character of Rosemary Hoyt in Fitzgerald's novel Tender is the Night (1934)
In 1935, she married Clarence M. Young, Secretary of Commerce, and retired from Hollywood.
Moran also had a co-starring role in the short-lived TV show Waterfront (1954–1955). The show starred Preston Foster as Capt. John Herrick, and Moran as his wife May Herrick.

 That's all for today. I'll be back on Sunday at which time I hope to have the final installment.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Silent Film Star Bookplates - Part Five

Yesterday I had a brief posting about  cowboys in silent films and  mentioned that I usually display these bookplates in an album along with contemporary cigarette cards.
This is where I purchase the cigarette cards
I should also mention that I generally print out biographical information from the Internet but have no recollection of which websites this information originally came from.
Stay tuned for episode number six tomorrow.

Mabel Normand used two different bookplates.The one on the left was designed by Lucille Lloyd

                                                      Bookplate Designed by Willie Pogany

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Silent Film Star Bookplates - Part Four (The Cowboys)

Ken Maynard's Bookplate Is Printed On Silk Thread Paper

I get many period photos to display along side bookplates from cigarette cards and Dixie Cup lids.
 The Philadelphia Free Library has a well stocked used bookstore located at 311 North 20th street.
Yesterday, I purchased a copy of  Whatever Became Of (Fourth Series) by Richard Lamparski.
The format is quite simple .A brief biography of the entertainer,a photo from his or her prime and a 1970 photo.It was saddening to note how many of the celebrities did not save for a rainy day or are selling used cars..According to the author "The man (Ken Maynard) who for several years was among the top screen money-makers lives alone in a ramshackle trailer filled with dusty mementos of his years of glory"

Tom Mix used a flocked paper for his bookplate to simulate rawhide..
That's all for now I will continue on Sunday morning.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Silent Film Star Bookplates - Part Three

This third episode focuses on bookplates from the libraries of some of the better known stars who appeared in silent films. Many, but not all went on to talkies.
Biographical information and film clips will be added throughout the week. as time permits .

Here is an excellent link to find out more about silent movie actresses:

Greta Garbo's plate was designed by A. Herry around 1939.,
Rudolph Valentino's bookplate was designed by William Cameron Menzies
Erich Von Stroheim's bookplate was designed by Victor Bassinett

Gloria Swanson used a rebus plate.The artist's cipher is R.
Does anyone out there know who that might be? Stay tuned for part four on Sunday.