Friday, August 22, 2014

Alfred Robert Louis Dohme's Bookplate

Alfred Robert Louis Dohme's Bookplate

by Michele Behan

                As both a book collector and bookplate collector, I always attend book sales with an eye toward interesting bookplates hidden within not-so-interesting books.

Books published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries tend to yield more bookplates than recently published titles, so it never hurts to flip open an
older book and check out the front endpaper.  Now that I know how to remove bookplates without damaging the book (thanks to this blog!), I always look for interesting bookplates to add to my collection.

        That is why, when I recently attended the Friends of the Library book sale held at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania on July 30, I picked up an otherwise boring Harvard Classics 1910 edition of The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini.

When I flipped the cover, I was fascinated by the commissioned bookplate within, featuring a border of a pair of snakes weaving through vines surrounding the central motif of a whimsical scribe.

The name on the bookplate, Alfred Robert Louis Dohme, meant nothing to me, but the design was sufficiently compelling to justify spending $2 on the book.

When I got home and researched the bookplate, I was surprised to learn that it belonged to a somewhat well-known individual at the turn of the 20th century, Dr. Alfred Robert Louis Dohme, a Baltimore pharmacist and chemist of some renown.

            Alfred Robert Louis Dohme (1867-1952) was a chemist who founded the pharmaceutical company Sharpe and Dohme (later Merck, Sharpe and Dohme) with a special interest in pharmaceutical assaying.

Dohme was also passionate about art and music.  He was instrumental in the founding of the Baltimore Museum of Art, as well as being chairman of the Grand Opera Committee of Baltimore.

Dohme was married twice, with his first marriage resulting in the birth of six daughters.  When his wife died, he remarried in 1909.

Alfred Robert Louis Dohme’s bookplate is full of curious symbols and mysteries, including the designer, whose signature, ADOHME ’14, does not correspond to any known bookplate engravers. 

Lew suggested that perhaps the designer was Dr. Dohme’s sister, but after extensive research, I have another theory.

One of Dr. Dohme’s daughters, Adelyn Dohme Breeskin (1896-1986), was the first woman to direct a major American art museum.

The younger Dohme planned on being an artist and graduated from Boston’s School of Fine Arts, Crafts and Decorative Design in 1918.  After graduation, she took a job in the print department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, later returning to Baltimore to accept the position of curator of prints at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

In 1938, she was named general curator of the museum and built one of the finest works on paper collections in the country.  In 1947, Adelyn Dohme was named director of the Baltimore Museum of Art. 

So it is reasonable to conclude that Adelyn Dohme  (ADOHME ‘14) was the artist and designer of her father’s intriguing bookplate.  In 1914, the aspiring artist would have been 18 years old.

Notes From Lew  

I want to thank Michele for submitting this article.You, my readers are encouraged to submit articles for inclusion in the blog.If English is not your primary language I can assist you with the editing.. Send a brief outline of your proposed article to

Some Recent additions to my collection

Symbol: Maxim "Knowledge Empowers Struggle". 

Design by 

 Sam DeWolff was a leader of the Zionist faction of the social democratic movement. 

 Salomon(Sam)  deWolff

The  information about this bookplate was sent by fellow collector Michael Kunze

The HQ of the  Prussian Association of Jewish Communities   (Preussischer Landesverband Jüdischer Gemeinden ) was located at  Kantstr. 158, Berlin,  and officially founded in  1922 
"Wanderbücherei" (book mobile / mobile library) may mean either a library mounted on a truck or it was moved by a truck to be stationed somewhere for a limited time
 This library picture was made in 1935

Mystery Bookplates

Can you assist me in identifying the owner's or

 artist's of these bookplates ?

If you have a mystery bookplate

Please send a scan to

8/23/2014 It always amazes me when   questions are answered at lightning speed. Fellow collector Jacques Laget found a book description
which contained the following information:

Printed for the Century Club by D.B. Updike at the Merrymount Press, Boston (Smith 957). Brief eulogies of club members who died in 1943, including Steven Vincent Benet, Pierpont Morgan, and Lt. Tom La Farge, whose cutter foundered in an ice storm off the coast of Newfoundland while returning from a "difficult and very valuable work in the North Atlantic area."

See You Again Next Weekend


Maywyn Studio said...

Wonderful post. Michelle looks familiar.:)

Suzannah Leydenfrost said...

Alfred Robert Louis Dohme was my great-grandfather. The photo you posted is not him. Just thought you should know.

Suzannah Leydenfrost