Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Oldest American Bookplate

I never gave much thought to what might be the oldest American bookplate until  several very thoughtful dealers forwarded a blog posting by Rebecca Rego Barr at The Fine Books Blog

this is what she wrote   

" This week I am at the University of Virginia's Rare Book School taking a week-long course called Provenance: Tracing Owners and Collections, taught by David Pearson. Topics include "inscriptions, paleography, bookplates, heraldry, bindings as provenance evidence, sale catalogues, tracing owners, and the recording of provenance data in catalogues" -- in other words, absolutely fascinating stuff, and a lot of it. I intend to write up a better report once the rigorous week comes to a close, but for now, perhaps an answer to a question posed today during a discussion of bookplates. What was the first American bookplate? Sources report that the 1642 bookplate of Massachusetts printer Stephen Daye (printer of the Bay Psalm Book) was the first. Finding an image, however, proved more than a quick Google search away. So classmates--and interested readers--is this the first American bookplate?

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 10.40.08 PM.pngAccording to The Bookplate Annual for 1921, which is where I pulled this image from, "The general consensus of opinion is that it is indeed the bookplate of the Cambridge printer." (No matter the spelling difference; as we are learning this week, that was very fluid in the 17th c.) However, is it not truly a book label since it was printed and not engraved or etched as bookplates generally are? "

This was my response:

Dear Rebecca,
The question is simple enough but the answer is more complicated..Once you start delving into early 18th century American bookplates you are probably dealing with Anglo- American plates from the libraries of royal governors and large land holders like Lord Baltimore.Most of the bookplates were not dated so I suspect your quest is a major research project.
I can ,if you wish, ask the question on my bookplate blog..
Lew Jaffe

The original question was posted on several websites and newsletters .
 David Szewczyk's  response was very thought provoking.

This was David's  Response:

Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2013 09:20:58 -0400

From: "Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts (PRB&M)"
Subject: Re: ["EXLIBRIS-L"] First American bookplate?

Vic and others,

At the bottom of the blog I see:

"However, is it not truly a book label since it was printed and not engraved
or etched as bookplates generally are?"

Bookplates of the 15th- and 16th-century, and well into the 17th-century, are
woodcut or printed from type.  Very, very few of that period are engraved.
19th- and 20th-century bookplates can be lithographed, chromolithographed,
linocut, woodengraved, photomechanically produced, etc.  It would be very
difficult for an Anglo-American bookplate of the 17th-century to be engraved
(in the New World) for that art is late in arriving in the Anglo colonies and
was not practice in the 1640s.

Now about "America."  It is being used in a very Anglo-centric way.
Libraries, both institutional and private, existed in Spanish America more
than 100 years before they did in the English colonies.  The earliest
bookplates for Mexico, as far as we know (but much research is still needed)
are in books that belonged the Jesuit establishments and were a woodcut stamp
on pieces of paper that were affixed to pastedowns and other blank areas.
Other times the stamp was simply used as a stamp. These date from as early as
the 1580s.

Be well,

David Szewczyk

I Confess, I have an Anglo-centric bias and do not think in terms of the other countries which had a foothold in what was to become America.If you eliminate the Spanish settlers on the west coast , the French colonists in The Louisiana Territory and focus only on English settlers and land owners what is the earliest  American Bookplate?

Perhaps it is this one dated 1702

Charles Carroll the Settler
Charles Carroll the Settler.jpg
Charles Carroll the Settler
Attorney General of the Maryland Colony
In office
Attorney General for the Calvert Proprietorship
In office
Attorney General of the Maryland Colony
In office
Personal details
Maryland colony
Spouse(s)Martha Ridgely Underwood, Mary Darnall
ChildrenAnthony, Charles, Charles, Henry, Eleanor, Bridget, Charles (of Annapolis), Anthony, Daniel, Mary, Eleanor
OccupationPlanter, Lawyer, Businessman
ReligionRoman Catholic

If you know of an earlier American bookplate please send me a scan and I will update this posting..

See You next Sunday.

1 comment:

Maywyn Studio said...

Great post, very interesting
I thought a bookplate is a bookplate no matter how its printed as long as it is in the book where bookplates go.