Good afternoon, Mr. Jaffe,
My name is Madeline Grzanich, and I came across your bookplate blog and was hoping to ask a few questions. I am currently pursuing my masters in Library and Information science at Dominican University, in River Forest, IL, and am writing a paper on the history and signifigance of bookplates in archiving, as well why they fell out of favor. I was hoping to get some information from a collector, to see what your thoughts are.
I understand that this is a very busy time of the year for many people and greatly appreciate any information you might be wiling to share. If you are not able to, I also understand.
Well, without further ado:
1. I saw on your blog, you mentioned you have been collecting for over 30 years, how did you get started?
There was really no defining moment. My father was a collector of sorts and I started collecting postage stamps when I was about ten years old . Many years later I worked in a bookstore and started a collection of bookmarks. One day I spotted an engraved bookplate by A.N. Macdonald
and the addiction began.
Why bookplates and not, say stamps or baseball cards?
I did collect stamps and baseball cards when I was very young . This hobby took root and blossomed but I am not sure why.
Was there a particular one that triggered your passion? Can you describe it for me and/ or send a scan? That would be awesome.
It was ,as I mentioned a bookplate by A.N. MacDonald but I can't remember now which one it was.
Here is a fine example of one that he engraved.
2. How many different bookplates have you collected?
I have never taken the time to count the bookplates but I assume it is well over 10,000
Do you have a theme in your collection?
I focus on 18th century American plates, bookplates from the libraries of famous people from any country and bookplates with Jewish signs or symbols
3. What is your favorite bookplate?
I have many favorites, some because of the design, some because they amuse me and some because
they bring back fond memories. Here is one of my favorites hand colored by a small boy in the 1920's
What would you say is your most valuable?
The scarce ones engraved by Paul Revere sell in the one to four thousand dollar range.
In American plates probably mid 18th century
4. What, if anything, do you do to preserve the bookplates in your collection?
How do you store them? Display them?
The bookplates are stored in loose leaf albums witch hold top loaded four pocket plastic sheets.
Follow this link for more details:
Do you treat them with any type of deacidifcation spray or bath?
5. Why do you think they are not being used as frequently anymore?
This is the most provocative question you've asked. In America from about 1880 to 1929 vast amounts of wealth plus many cultural artifacts were moving from England to America.
This included many great libraries. Along with that came the increased usage of bookplates by the rich and famous.
I suppose the great depression and the introduction of inexpensive books for the masses all contributed the decline of custom made book plates but it did give rise to pre -packaged bookplates like the ones made by The Antioch bookplate company.
Antioch lasted for about three decades.*
With the increased usage of Nooks Kindles and I Pads bookplates and their owners are destined to be quaint cultural artifacts of the past.
From Karen Gardner
Interesting blog, Lew. I do hope you're wrong about bookplates becoming a thing of the past due to e-readers. Many people still order Antioch bookplate designs through Bookplate Ink. There was an interesting article in the New York TImes this Sunday about publishers adding high quality touches to physical books to increase sales: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/books/publishers-gild-books-with-special-effects-to-compete-with-e-books.html?_r=1&scp=5&sq=books&st=cse.
Slight correction -- The Antioch Bookplate Company under that name lasted around five decades, but went on providing packaged bookplates for around another three decades as the Antioch Publishing Company as it added more book-related products beyond bookplates.
6. Do you place your own bookplate in all your books, including paperbacks that you only read once and pass along to friends or family, or just the ones that have a permanent home in your library?
I have several bookplates. They do not go into every book I own. Here is the one I use most frequently.
I do appreciate your time, even if you only answer one or two of the above questions.
I really look forward to hearing from you.