Monday, May 26, 2014

Building a Bookplate Collection at a Congress by James P. Keenan,

Building a Bookplate Collection at a Congress
 by James P. Keenan,
 Director of the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers 

Bookplates are personal marks of book ownership.  A reflection of the owner's tastes and interests.  For more than 125 years bookplate collections have been built through the "exchange" of duplicate prints.  This is our tradition.  Through this unique process we establish international friendships by swapping personal designs privately, through the mail, and at a congress.  

In the 21st century with the advantages of email, scanners, Skype, FEDEX bookplate exchanging & collecting has become easier. Commissioning a top artist to create a new design is also a streamlined, simpler process.

Since the 1950's there have been international meetings of artists and collectors.  The last international congress was held during April 2014 in lovely Vila-Seca, Tarragona, Catalunya, Spain.  I was "armed" with only 2 new bookplate designs in my briefcase along with several older personal ones.
Harry Jürgens (Germany): "Beat writers in SMA-On The Road" 2013
Nurgül Arıkan (Turkey): Typography, 2014

              Some of the older personal ones I used for exchange

Nurgül Arıkan (Turkey): EYES (a "series"), 2013
Sergey Hrapov:  Roald Dahl, 2012
 Serik Kulmeshkenov (USA): The King of Rock n' Roll, 2013

Of course, I added 500 bookplates to my collection and no money was passed, only ex libris prints. I received not only contemporary works, but exquisite bookplates by top artists from all countries, all periods, representing many subjects and techniques.  Without doubt, this is the most efficient and economical way to build a serious bookplate collection

 A few Contemporary Bookplate Exchanges

Nurgül Arıkan (Turkey)--This design is for Jean-Chretien Ekambo, an educator and bibliophile in the Congo--the first 21st century Congo ex libris.  It won 2nd prize in the Deutsche Exlibris-Gesellschaft (German bookplate society) exhibition held at Haltern, Germany in May 2014.

 Katsunori Hamanishi (Japan) for Yasuhiko Aoki
Shigeki Tomura (Japan) for Ichigoro Uchida
Yuri Nozdrin (Russia)--"Ship of Fools" for Marietta Hagedorn
Yuri Nozdrin (Russia)--Ex Libris FANYA
 Juri Jakovenko (Belarus)--Agaath & Jos Waterschoot

I was involved in a heated exchange with an ex libris aficionado from the Netherlands. Pouring through many fine bookplate duplicates by E.D. French, Sidney L. Smith, Will Simmons, and other artists of this period in American bookplates. So I asked, how do you come across so many American bookplates?  His reply:  "Of course, I am a collector!"  In other words, you can find just about anything you want at a bookplate congress and establish friendships to last a lifetime in the process.

Here are a few of the older bookplates that I acquired

Vlada Borek,Czech (1898-1943) 
This is an English Bookplate which  I received in a trade

An American plate By Will Simmons  (1884-1949)

The most exciting and rewarding aspect of the international bookplate congress is visiting new countries and cultures.  Making new friends and reuniting with old ones while building your bookplate collection!

An excellent start is to visit our website:  Here you can see artworks by 100's of contemporary artists  We will assist you with selecting and commissioning the artists. 

A few months ago, our society published our first eBook and artist directory on this subject. 
BOOKPLATES: The Art of This Century.


This book is available throughout the world in several formats including Kindle, NOOK, iBook.
There is more information along with an Amazon preview through our website.

For more than 9 decades, our society has been committed to keeping up with the times and providing essential information about the art of the bookplate to our members.  This is our mission and responsibility in contributing to the further development of the bookplate

On our website, you can join the society for as little as $30 USD per year.  

The illustrated Ex Libris Chronicle  is now going into its 14th year.  Here you can read the latest news and learn about competitions, exhibitions, meetings.. You can also read essays by many important international artists and collectors. The association has been publishing the Year Book for 92-years!  

Our society organizes national, inter-American, and international meetings regularly.  This helps to unite artists and collectors from many places. Our next big international meeting will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2022 in celebration of our 100th anniversary.
We are planning Bay Area exhibitions and talks starting this year in 2014 as we build momentum for this event!  For more information, please write to me today..


James P. Keenan
American Society of Bookplate 
Collectors & Designers 
5802 Bullock Loop 
Suite C1 #84404 
Laredo, Texas, USA 78041-8807            
VISIT US ON FACEBOOK TOO! Over 5,000 followers. 
Advancing the interest in "ex libris" art since 1922!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bookplates for Sale ,Dugald Stewart Walker, Rockwell Kent/John Sloan

Original artwork by Dugald Stewart Walker is not often offered for sale so I am pleased to mention that Nicholas Cooke of Black Swan Books currently is selling an unfinished pen and ink drawing by him.

 Description: Original artwork for a bookplate design by the early 20th century illustrator Dugald Stewart Walker. Walker's designs were considered suggestive of other great illustrators -- especially Dulac, Rackham and Beardsley. This unfinished drawing (13 1/4 x 12 1/2") was a design for the plate of Langbourne Meade Williams, a born and bred Virginian who became a prominent businessman in New York (appropriate that Walker had the commission, as Walker said in his Foreward to Anderson';s Fairy Tales, "I have never been anywhere except Richmond, Virginia and New York." The design is highly evocative of Mr. William's Virginia roots, especially his time at the University of Virginia -- the drawing of the Rotunda functions as a kind of crest, along with the insignia of his fraternity (Delta Psi), the Raven Society and Phi Beta Kappa. There are also the seals of Mr. Williams'; two Virginia preparatory schools -- St. Christopher';s School in Richmond and The Episcopal High School in Alexandria. Finally the drawing is embellished with very fluid drawing of horses much in style of Beardsley. An outstanding example of Walker's bookplate art, which very often displayed the personalized iconography of the client. 
This artwork is tentatively scheduled to be exhibited at this book show:
Visit the 3rd Annual
Library of Virginia Book Fair

May 30 & 31, 2014

Black Swan Books
Address: 2601 W Main St, Richmond, VA 23220
Phone:(804) 353-9476


I currently have an early Rockwell Kent/John Sloan bookplate for sale on Ebay

    This bookplate is illustrated on Page 19 in Rockwell Kent The Art Of The Bookplate by Don Roberts

The caption is as follows:
“Sloan provided the scratchboard and ink illustrations;
Kent most likely lettered Kathleen’s and his names.
Drawn in the style of a Thomas Bewick engraving, it was the first bookplate Kent is known to have used.”

5/27/2014- The item sold for $157.50

James Keenan's article  about building a bookplate collection will be posted on Tuesday May 27th

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The XXXV International Congress of Ex Librist Catalonia-Submitted by Andrew G. Peake

Turkish delegation in the foreground

 Frank-Ivo van Damme (Belgium)

The 35th Congress got off to a good start in the seaside resort of La Pineda, Vila-Seca which is located a few kilometres from Tarragona, which is in turn located about 100 kilometres to the west of Barcelona, Spain, from the 22 April-28 April 2014. There were about 214 delegates, from 23 countries, with good representation from continental Europe, the Far East (China and Japan), the United States and a sprinkling of participants from Australia (one) and Argentina. The primary language used to communicate at these meetings is English.

The Congress was held in a seaside community catering to tourists interested in a seaside resort, with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gymnasiums and all manner of social entertainment. Most, if not all attendees, resided at the complex. The facility provided full board, with buffet meals complete with complimentary wine at lunch and dinner. The food and wine were both great and being able to have a meal with other Congress delegates added to the conviviality of the occasion.

The organisers, the Associacion Catalana d’Exlibristes, organised a full program, with a series of lectures, generally presented in Spanish and English.  There were several excursions to Tarragona, Barcelona, the Monastery of Poblet and Reus, so that there was some interest for the spouse accompanying the bookplate aficionado. The primary feature of the Exchange Hall was buzzing with activity from shortly after breakfast until the end of the day. 

This was the first Congress since Boston 2000 were there were a significant number of lectures. All fairly short and each with only a small audience, but excellent presentations. Topics included, ‘Exlibris and Literature in Argentina’, ‘Presentation of the book, Oriol Maria Divi’, and ‘The action and communication of colour in Ex-libris’. 

A number of exhibitions were held associated with the Congress. One exhibition included the bookplates submitted for the competition that is always held for each Congress. There were 1153 works submitted from 365 artists. Six prizes were given, 12 plates received special mention and 109 plates were selected for display. It was interesting to note however that none of the winning plates or those selected were by ‘computer generated design’ (CGD).  This is a reflection of the continuing elitism of plates using one of the intaglio techniques, such as etching and engraving.  Other exhibitions were on the theme of St George (and the dragon), who is the patron saint of Catalonia, and xylography. Several comprehensive illustrated catalogues were produced on the exhibitions.

The Exchange Hall was crowded on all days and there was a continuing exchange of bookplates and also the opportunity to meet artists and if desired commission a bookplate. For those interested the going rate was about 500 euros for an edition of 50 plates by an intaglio process. Although there is a basic range of 500-750 euro for editions of 50-100 prints by the top artists.

At each Congress there is always a meeting of member societies of FISAE to discuss bookplate issues and to also confirm the location of subsequent congresses. For those interested the 2016 Congress will be in Vologda, Russia, between 22-27 August. Vologda is a smallish city between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The only issue is that it isn’t served by air and it is necessary to take an overnight train from either of these two large cities. The 2018 Congress will be held in late summer in Prague, Czech Republic. Places negotiating for future congress venues include England in 2020 (even though the English rarely attend the congresses), and Turkey is also interested in the same year.  In 2022 the American Society of Bookplate Collectors & Designers (ASBC&D) is prepared to host the meeting in San Francisco in celebration of its 100th anniversary. 

All in all the Tarragona Congress was well organised, the venue was excellent.  There was a good range of lectures and social activities, such as tours to neighbouring historic sites and cities.  And, as usual, many enthusiastic ex libris aficionados in attendance.

Andrew G. Peake

Note from Lew- Thank you  Andrew, for taking the time to send this information.
Next Sunday James P. Keenan will write about building a bookplate collection.
He has many photos of bookplates to share with us .           

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Some Recent Bookplate Purchases, Exchanges and Discoveries

Stanley Kauffmann (1916  -2013)
"Mr. Kauffmann  started with The New Republic in 1958 and contributed film criticism to that magazine for the next fifty-five years.
 He had one brief break in his New Republic tenure, when he served as the film critic for the New York Times for eight months in 1966.
He also worked as an acquisitions editor at Ballantine Books in 1953, where he acquired the novel Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.
 Several years later, while working as an editor at Alfred A. Knopf  he discovered a manuscript by Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
Following a year of rewrites and revisions, the novel was published in 1961, and went on to win a National Book Award in 1962."
His bookplate was designed by John Sasso in 1935.
Does anyone out there recognize the theatre notables shown on his bookplate?

Responses to my question
Hello, Lew...I know I've seen the image on the far right...I believe it's Edmund Kean (1787-1833) who was a powerful stage presence early in the 19th Century. He grew up in the British theatre and was acclaimed as perhaps the era's greatest Shakespearean actor. He was especially noted as a tragedian and, indeed, his own life followed an ultimately tragic decline. He made at least two trips to perform in The United States. Very interesting to read about him. I'm still on the trail of the other two actors; I think I've seen the middle image as well. Hope I find it.
Kate  Klavan
Santa Barbara

Hey, love your newsletter. I suspect that drawings you asked for ids on, are barrymores. Here is one link that might help-- I just did an image search for the name barrymore.
Marsha Brown

From fellow collector Michael Kunze
After seeing your Confessions of Thursday, May 15th, 2014.
I think I have seen the drawing at the left side some years ago.
I guess it shows David Garrick, British actor & author, 1717-1779

From David W.Lowden

I would guess David Garrick, Edwin (brother of John Wilkes) Booth and John Barrymore.  One for each of the centuries 18, 19 and 20


Updates from Kate Klavin

It's a wrap

Look what I found…Kate

P.S. Of course, all the other contributions seem pretty likely as well…except maybe David Garrick who was more handsome than the image on the left…then again, Garrick, Barrymores and Booth are all good prospects! This is fun!

St.Louis Woman's Exchange- 
This one amused me
.By the way, the St. Louis  Woman's Exchange began in 1883 and is still thriving in 2014

William Jordan Howard's bookplate was designed by Dard Hunter

Some Bookplates with Frank Papé illustrations- I 've never seen the Thomas Horan plate before. In searching for additional information about it I found this old Ebay listing from fellow collector Anthony Pincott.


""This ex-libris was profiled 25 years ago in Bookplate Journal, Vol.4, No.2 (1986) where W.E. Butler wrote about it as follows:

It is by no means uncommon for bookplates of great beauty or distinctiveness, nor even for bookplate designers, to elude the notice of collectors until books containing the ex libris appear on the antiquarian market. Such is the case with Dennis Yates Wheatley (1897-1977), novelist and self-styled "inventor" (with J. G. Links) of Crime Dossier Murder Fiction. A sizeable portion of Wheatley's personal library turned up on the 50p–£1 shelves at Blackwells in Oxford c. 1980, nearly all bearing his bookplate. The existence of the plate was a revelation, both for its unusual subject-matter and its designer: the illustrator F. C. Pape was now known to have designed bookplates. Here was an exceptional case of the bookplate being worth more than the book, and several copies of the Wheatley plate have found their way into bookplate collections.

After a prosperous period as a wine merchant in Mayfair, following military service in the first World War, Wheatley sold out in 1931 and turned to writing full-time. His historical adventures and detective novels enjoyed great popularity, his characters Roger Brook and Gregory Sallust moving adroitly from one volume to the next. While in the service during 1917, Wheatley met Gordon Eric Gordon-Tombe, whose name appears at the bottom right corner of the bookplate. In his manner of walking, cynical ruthlessness, sense of humour, and love of the good life, Gordon Eric became the model for Wheatley's character Gregory Sallust; it was owing to Gordon Eric that Wheatley broadened his mental development and reading habits and eventually started book collecting in earnest. His private library exceeded 4,000 volumes. A few years after the war Gordon Eric was murdered, and Wheatley used his own library to create a memorial by having the bookplate designed to depict the original version of the Garden of Eden.

Following what Wheatley called the "original Babylonian account," his bookplate depicts the Garden of Eden with numerous trees, one of which is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil bearing an open book in the branches and another is the Tree of Life in the form of a flowery crux-an-sata with a nude girl in an oval. In the foreground seated on a tree stump appears a faun, beside him an iced bottle of champagne and a saxophone. The faun has Gordon Eric's features taken from a photograph, and from another is depicted Dennis Wheatley seated on the grass listening to him. Beneath the picture is a cynically amusing remark that Gordon Eric had made to Wheatley.'

Dennis Wheatley collected chiefly first editions and the "greatest classics." The better items found their way into booksellers' catalogues, where the bookplate was widely noted, though not understood. One dealer commented: "From Dennis Wheatley's library, with his large and rather disturbing bookplate on front pastedown." The Butler Collection contains the fourth edition of W. Tooke, The Life of Catharine II, Empress of Russia (1800), in three volumes, bearing the Wheatley bookplate (in vol. 1 only) and the inscription in Wheatley's hand: "Used by me when writing my Roger Brook story 'The Shadow of Tyburn Tree.' Extremely useful. Dennis Wheatley." The set is full of underscorings and marginalia which show how extensively it served as a major source for numerous events or passages in the novel (1948)

Frank Cheyne Pape (1878-1972) had impressed Wheatley by his illustrations for the Bodley Head editions of Anatole France and for one of Wheatley's favourite authors, James Branch Cabell. The bookplate is dated 1928, and Pape was selected to illustrate one of Wheatley's early books, "Old Rowley" A Private Life of Charles!! (1933). Although Pape illustrated dozens of books between 1908-38, his best works date from the 1920s and inspired something of a Pape cult. In Wheatley's bookplate he perhaps exhibited more of the imaginative range and personal viewpoint said to be lacking in some of his graphic work; most assuredly he excelled in grotesque characterization with, here, an outrageous sense of humour. 

Since the discovery of the Wheatley bookplate, another design by Pape, in 1931, for Thomas Horan has come to light. It depicts a faun playing pipes with two tiny babies on the ground between his hooves and a maiden listening to music at his side; in the forest background stands a unicorn. The bookplate is a process reproduction of what seems to be a drawing.

Bookplates so often reflecting personal interests and concerns, the Wheatley ex-libris is, as well as one of the most unconventional English bookplates of the interwar era, an object lesson about jumping to conclusions regarding the meaning of a design. Far from being "disturbing," it was a warm tribute to the owner's friend and intellectual stimulant."

 Note From Lew- I suspect that Mr. Horan may have "borrowed" Frank Papé designs for his bookplates, The one I have is different from the one described  above..

I recently discovered another bookplate with a Frank Papé design.

Louise Brooks(1906-1985) was a silent film star. The image on her bookplate appeared in The Works of Rabelais
published by Boni and Liveright (Volume 2 page 180)
Three Interesting  Links For Booklovers

Book sale season is heating up - just like the weather!  On a drive to the dairy for a sundae? Why not pick up a book or 2 to read this weekend? Pull out the smart phone or tablet. No need for an app. Type and no matter where you are in the US or Canada, you'll know if there's a book sale or store within 100 miles. (don't forget the M!)
New York Times Article about lost New York Bookstores

Thousands of old library books bear fascinating traces of the past. Readers wrote in their books, and left notes, pictures, letters, flowers, locks of hair, and other things between their pagesWe need your help identifying them because many are in danger of being discarded as libraries go digital. Books printed between 1820 and 1923 are at particular risk.  Help us prove the value of maintaining rich print collections in our libraries.
Join the search! Go to your library, find marked books, take photos, & upload them here
CURRENTLY COLLECTING IMAGES and CITATIONS of MARKED COPIES OF LIBRARY  BOOKS PUBLISHED BEFORE 1923.  Each month we will add some specific authors to help focus  your searches.  We are focusing on CIRCULATING AND RESEARCH COLLECTIONS (not rare books or special collections).

See you again on Sunday May 25th

Sunday, May 11, 2014

An Article by Mark Schumacher about Amy Sacker

I am always pleased to receive bookplate articles for inclusion in the blog. In this case I am doubly pleased
because Mark Schumacher has done extensive research about Amy M. Sacker over a long period of time.
You can visit his remarkable Amy Sacker website here:

The “second lives” of two
Amy Sacker bookplates

Amy Sacker (1872-1965) created about two dozen known bookplates during her career [see ]. Two of the bookplates that appeared in the 1903 publication by Boston bookseller Charles Goodspeed, “The Book Plates of Amy Sacker”, actually had a second usage in a different setting. The Boston artist modified her work and employed it to serve a new, quite different purpose.

Her bookplate for Waldo K. Chase [figure 1]


became the colorful cover design for the December, 1903, issue of the Boston monthly, The Literary World, [figure 2]. While the background was reworked into a more festive, Christmas-time look, the figure and the pose, while reversed, remain fundamentally the same. Amy has also moved the monogram from under Waldo’s foot to a pile of earlier issues of the magazine lying on the floor.

A second bookplate from this same collection (and done in a similar bold style) was created for Harold Murdock [figure 3], showing a young man in Renaissance attire standing at a desk.

This same fellow had already appeared, dressed quite differently, in a more modern look, as the title character of Edward William Thomson’s The Young Boss (1896) [Figure 4]. Whether Sacker had created the bookplate prior to that date, and reworked for the cover, or vice versa, is not known.

There is another “bookplate connection” involving Sacker’s work, though it is not one of her bookplates. The central design for the cover of Robert Stephens’ Philip Winwood [figure 5] was “appropriated” by the New York engravers Ames and Rollinson, about 1900, to create a bookplate for Frank Earle Hayward [figure 6]

Mr. Hayward had considerable connections to the revolutionary era-- he was a member of the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, and apparently of the Order of Washington, where he was the Deputy Vice-Commander-General for the state of New York .  He was also a member of the Bibliophile Society of Boston.

I find the re-use generally of Amy Sacker's designs fascinating, especially when they seem to head "off course. Here is an example.

 My joke is that, unless they are sitting there reading "Fodor's Columbia River", they are going to be in deep trouble.

This is the link to a few book covers with little connection to their titles"

with my [mildly] witty comments at times 

Here is the link to the "front page" of my Sacker bookplate section:

Note from Lew- Thank you Mark
See you all again next Sunday