Friday, October 28, 2011

Collector Profile Luigi Bergomi

Luigi Bergomi
By Lev Alimov

By Walter Valentini

By Toni Pecoraro

By Yuri Borovitsky

By Viola Tycz
As a child, I remember I was an active, though quite disorganized, collector: football players cards primarily but also coins, a herbarium and so on. As I grew older, I started reading a lot of books: collecting them became a natural extension. At a certain point in my life I thought I had read “all the books ever being written”; a friend of mine showed me some reproductions of graphic works by a German artist member of the Wandervogel. The subject of the wayfarer intrigued me a lot and that time and still does it now. I suddenly decided to utilize one of Sluyterman’s images as my first ex libris, which I had printed in offset in 1985.

I then inundated the mailboxes of all the collectors to whom I proudly sent several copies of my first ex libris. The response was overwhelming and, as the story goes, the rest is history…

I consider the contemporary ex libris a way to commission high-end “personal” art from an artist. One of the things I find fascinating about ex libris is the fact that their size and “canon” often force the artist to make an extra effort in compressing, within a somewhat defined and generally small range, a shared story and inspiration, creativity, great technique and calligraphy: defying the general perception present on the marketplace, this unique aspect (that is, the intimate shared introspection between artist and patron), if anything, makes an ex libris even more valuable than a corresponding free graphic, at least to my eyes.
Commissioning a new edition in my name is often a long process: I rarely attend meetings and congresses and as a result correspond with the artists and patiently wait for their creation. I normally request and receive a first proof or a sketch without name engraved on the plate; upon my approval the final edition gets shipped to me. Sometimes I find this process too impersonal because it does not let me meet directly with the artist but living in the U.S., a place  distant from the ex libris artists more in demand, does not facilitate the direct interaction I used to have with them while living in Europe.

I have been collecting for over twenty five years and keep accumulating new prints in a disorderly fashion. In addition to a well represented panorama of the work by contemporary artists, I also have an equally important group of “Golden Age” ex libris and Heraldic ones, purchased on the antiquarian markets or exchanged.
Unlike other forms of collecting, with a limited and clear goal (that is, the coins or stamps issued from a country or during a limited period of time), ex libris collecting is by definition “infinite”: color variants, plates with or without remarques, names added after the first run of prints and so on make the overall activity of collecting them essentially unlimited.

Throughout my twenty five years of collecting I had the fortune of meeting in person and getting to know many fabulous artists, some unfortunately no longer with us and most still active and in their prime; It’s virtually impossible, and unfair, to single out THE print maker who struck me the most; what I admire the most in any given artist opus list is continuity, solidity. I don’t particularly care for artists with “mountains” and “valleys”(that is, artists who might excel every now and then but who often produce too many editions and cannot keep up with the quality): less is better, in most cases.
When I was living in Italy I attended pretty regularly regional meetings; since 1990, after moving to the US, my attendance has dropped considerably. Each meeting attended, with the exception of the Boston congress in 2000 where somehow I played “at home”, is a luxury which I try to deserve by maximizing my exchanges and meetings with friends, artists and collectors.

I am always interested in exchanging ex libris, old and new, and can be reached at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

An Anglo-American Bookplate & A Mystery Plate

Does anyone out there recognize this mystery plate?
 I got this theatrical plate recently but it is a mystery. Your help with identification would be appreciated.
Lew Jaffe

Artist's Initials on The Mystery Plate
I purchased this Anglo-American bookplate and  to my delight Stephen Marsh had already done a good deal of research about the owner, Stephen Peach Peach.(No,this is not a typo)

 Mr.Marsh's silver crest database is also well worth a visit.

The Article Below Was Written By Stephen Marsh
"In the course of building our database of family crests 
 I came across a delightful bookplate for a man by the name of Samuel Peach Peach. Initially interested because the crest was not one I could find in the main published directories, I became increasingly intrigued by his repeated surname.
A little research revealed a story that, with shades of Jane Austen, indicated some of the difficulties facing a prominent New York family in the run up to and during the War of Independence. Antique Silver is frequently engraved with armorials and these, often ignored, engravings are the key to unlocking the personal history of the item; which I find more interesting than the mere date and name of the maker.


He had been born Samuel Peach Cruger in 1767, the son of Henry Cruger Jr; who had the probably unique and certainly unrepeatable distinction of having been a Member of both the British Parliament and the New York Senate.

Henry Cruger Jr was born in New York in 1739 within months of his grandfather, John Cruger, taking office as Mayor of the city; a post in which he was to die in 1744. John Cruger had arrived from Northern Europe, possibly Denmark, in 1696 to join a trading firm part owned by a kinsman, becoming a partner in the firm in 1702. Co-incidentally a kinsman of my own, Viscount Cornbury (who had a penchant for cross dressing), was Governor of New York from 1701-08 and allegedly scandalised the colony by opening the New York legislature wearing a dress, with the words “I represent the Queen and in all respects I ought to represent her as faithfully as I can”. Was Mr Cruger one of my kinsman’s detractors?

Mercantile family

John Cruger’s business prospered and in 1712 he was elected Alderman for the Dock ward, an undoubtedly useful post for a ship owner, and one that he was to hold until becoming assistant Mayor in 1735. As was common with mercantile families, he despatched his sons to major trading locations; his son Henry (Sr) to the British trading port of Bristol, another son was sent to the West Indies whilst a third, John Cruger Jr, remained in New York (subsequently becoming Mayor of New York and Speaker of the Province of New York Assembly from 1767-1775, before, as a prominent British sympathiser, being proscribed as a “suspect person”).
In due course Henry Cruger Sr was to send his son Henry Cruger Jr to represent the firm in Bristol, where he married in 1765 the daughter of a successful linen merchant and banker, Samuel Peach. She died in 1767 and I wonder if that was in childbirth with Samuel Peach Cruger? Henry Jr soon became a member of the Bristol Council and Sheriff of Bristol before being elected in 1774 as the Whig member of Parliament for the city along with the noted political philosopher, Edmund Burke (who was also the agent for the Province of New York).

From Crugar to Peach

As a New Yorker by birth and a merchant involved in the transatlantic trade, Henry Jr was inevitably pre-occupied by one of the major political topics of the day: relations with the American Colonies. In his maiden speech he criticised the Tory administration of Lord North for worsening relations with the colonies and regularly complained that not enough was being done to support the more patriotic New York colonists, including his own family. But by the time he lost his seat in 1780 he had become a supporter of American independence. He served a year as Mayor of Bristol before being re-elected to the commons as an ally of William Pitt in 1784 where he continually urged reconciliation with the former American colonies. He left the commons in 1789 and returned to America in 1790 where he was elected to the New York Senate for a single, four year term, during which he urged reconciliation with Great Britain.
His son Samuel remained in England, having inherited his maternal grandfather’s considerable estate (including Tockington) in 1788 and, in accordance with his grandfathers wishes, changed his surname from Cruger to Peach. He married Clarissa Partridge the same year and the arms on the bookplate are those of Partridge impaling Peach. Thus we have an example of a Partridge in a Peach (family) tree."

Stephen Marsh

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Learned A New Word Today--Phaleristics

From time to time I check  Google's Blog Search  and more often than not I find nothing of interest.
This morning I found two postings on bookplates and Phaleristics in Portugal..
Here is a link to satisfy your curiosity.

I will be attending a library book sale in Princeton, New Jersey on Friday .
Here is a link:

Speaking of library book sales, I attended one on Saturday in Media Pennsylvania., a Republican stronghold.
.I arrived about one hour after the opening and by that time many of  the dealers with scanners had come and gone.Much to my surprise , in plain sight there were eight signed copies of a book by Mitt Romney at two dollars each..No one seemed to be interested in them.Could this be some sort of leading indicator?
On Sunday I will be in Albany , New York visiting  the 37th annual antiquarian book and ephemera fair.
Here is a link to that show.

If you  are near Princeton or Albany and have bookplates for sale or exchange
I would like to hear from you.

I won't be back home until Tuesday October 25th so my next posting will be on Thursday October 27th

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ernest W. Oldham Part Three

 Click on any image to enlarge.
Many of the colored wood cuts ( my favorites) are not signed.

The following biographical information about Ernest and Mary Oldham was obtained from The Cornwall Artists website
"At the NAG Exhibition of 1937, Ernest Oldham exhibited Ghosting Home and Departing Shower, Manaccan Cross, two paintings in addition to displays within the Craft section (probably bookplates: not specified). Their bookplates are numerous and designed for many of their fellow artists.
He was married to the painter and bookplate designer Mary OLDHAM, and from family correspondence it seems that the Oldhams lived at the Helford, Helston, Cornwall. A recent image has been shared by Ernest's descendants of a watercolour of Wheal Trewavas and The Lizard (nd). The couple began to exhibit at Newlyn in the 1920s, and remained active until the mid-1950s, when Mrs Oldham was chosen by the Committee to serve the teas at Newlyn Opening Show Days. They are not listed in standard artist indices."

When I originally wrote to Mr Bernard Maker for additional biographical information his response was as follows:
"The reason for the scarcity of information may be that the Oldhams preferred to live and work away from the commercial world of art.
  They lived at Helford village and had a studio there for most of their lives.
Helford, in case you are not familiar with it, is a small sleepy village in a remote part of a county itself quite remote from the more populated parts of Britain.
It is a charming place, once a fishing village, but for the most part of the twentieth century a place for the wealthy , the retired and day visitors.Their customers , I imagine came mostly from these sources."
Well , the Oldham  project is just about completed. If you find any other examples please send scans to  and they will be added to this posting.
On my next posting I will be writing about some unusual bookplates I recently purchased.
See you soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ernest W. Oldham PART TWO

 The Mabel Colborne plate is unsigned. If you click on any image it will (hopefully) enlarge.
I am behind  schedule for this project because the scanning is (for me) tedious.
I hope to complete the scanning before next Sunday .

 The John Stotmont/ Mary Hays plate is unsigned