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!!

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