Friday, August 26, 2016

Rudy Vallee's Bookplate

From the Antioch Bookplate Archives — Rudy Vallee’s Bookplate

 Among the samples of custom bookplates in the Antioch Bookplate archives is one with the signature of “Rudy Vallée” with the illustration of a Doberman Pinscher. Before definitively declaring that the bookplate was indeed printed for the well-known actor and bandleader, caution dictated that some confirming information be found (the correspondence with Antioch Bookplate to the create the bookplate had long been destroyed).
An Internet search did reveal that the actor was ineed mad about dogs, and at one time owned four, including two Dobermans. Historian of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America Marj Brooks noted: “Rudy owns two genuine Doberman Pinschers: Himmel…and Kaiser, a half-brother to Himmel. They are his constant companions and protectors… Kaiser takes keen interest in his master’s Variety Hour. If he doesn’t happen to like Rudy’s tones he places his paw over his nose simulating a gesture used by human beings… But if you should invite Rudy to dinner, there too would go Dobermans Himmel and Kaiser.”
Himmel was also noted for his association with famed dog psychiatrist Clarence Ellis Harbison as profiled in “The Dog’s Freud: He treats phobias and complexes of the canine world” by Herbert Brean in LIFE, January 2, 1950.
“Rudy Vallee’s doberman pinscher was easy to cure, although he presented a puzzle at first. The dog appeared healthy and sound, but the singer complained that he (the doberman) suffered fits of running wild through the house, scratching at doors, leaping at windows.
After having the dog in his bedroom one night, Harbison discovered the core of the trouble. It did not involve the psycho. The dog just needed to see a tree about a trunk every so often.” (Milwaukee Journal, August 16, 1949)
One of the Dobermans owned by Vallée was noted in another context, since Vallée joined a few other actors contributing their animals to the war effort in the “Dogs for Defense” program.
This entry was posted in Antioch Bookplate Archives and tagged 

Note From Lew

Rebecca Eschliman is a frequent blog contributor. She worked at

 The Antioch Publishing Co (originally Bookplate). for 24 years

 and  is  the publicity/website manager at

The Yellow Springs Historical Society

 Here are some other blog postings she has written  about  Antioch 

Bookplate Artists

Individual Artists

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bookplates In The Rabbit Hole Part Two

More Bookplates In The Rabbit Hole

By Jeffrey Price
Fellow Collectors James Goode, Lew Jaffe and collector/dealer Tom Boss opened a gate to the wonderland of bookplates. How could I have not been aware of such a vast and rewarding field?  Why weren't names like E. D. French, Spenceley, and C. S. Junge familiar to me? The fact that this entire genre of prints was  'under-the-radar' was so fascinating to me that I immediately dove in to learning all I could and acquiring some prints. It certainly was challenging to figure out what areas I wanted to focus on when so many genres were appealing.
Engraved by A.N. Macdonald for Enrico Caruso

I soon discovered that there were at least three distinctly different types of prints in the ex libris world. The British had created armorial plates featuring family crests and insignias for hundreds of years. In Europe the majority of modern ex libris prints were actually editions of 'free graphics' and surrealistic etchings, always inscribed with a patron's name and interestingly often too large to ever be glued into a book.

Americans raised the art of ex libris to new heights with some of history's finest engravers and designers creating miniature works of consummate beauty and craftsmanship. These American Masters soon became the focus of my collecting, and I began to acquire prints, proofs, and vintage books by these artists.
Engraved by E.D. French , designed by Howard Pyle for The Yale Club
I thought a lot about the words ex libris' and 'bookplate.' Certainly, many of these prints could have been glued into books to identify ownership, but these prints were so much more than name-plates. Each print reflected the personality of the patron, the craft of the artist, and the history of the time in which it was created. I believe many of these prints were presented by their owners as gifts to friends and collectors. My collection of plates, however, was not in books; each print was treasured separately and many were destined to be on my walls in fine picture frames. I decided the name 'Personal Prints' was the most appropriate title for a collection of these prints. My hope is that name sticks and becomes part of the general vocabulary describing bookplates. These prints deserve more dignity and a greater presence in the world of art and I believe new nomenclature is a good place to start!

 After speaking to James Goode, Lew Jaffe and Tom Boss I discovered there were many appealing paths to explore in the Bookplate World. I began acquiring prints by famous artists or works commissioned by notable patrons. How exciting it was to discover that I could own a small print by Aubrey Beardsley, Winslow Homer and Maxfield Parrish, artists I had admired all my life! That enjoyment was multiplied by the fact that my art gallery features a world-class picture-framing workshop, and I was able to design frames for these works. 
Designed by Maxfield Parrish for Theodore Weicker

Designed by Aubrey Beardsley for John Henry Ashworth
 I learned that the usual way collectors organized their bookplates was to put them in albums or boxes in much the same way that stamps or baseball cards are stored. A lifetime of picture frame designing experience enabled me to create a gallery display of bookplates that was historical as well as down-right gorgeous.  The possibilities for creative design are endless and a well-designed frame will only enhance and never overpower its contents. Fortunately, many small personal prints have huge impact that balances a complex frame design. It was inevitable that I would collect far quicker than I could sell these prints, and the fact was that I wanted to keep much of what I acquired for my own collection anyway, so I decided rather than a typical gallery exhibit I would create a space in my gallery known as 'The Artists' Bookplate Museum.' Of course, unlike most museums, many of the works on the walls had price-tags along with their historical captions!
Designed by E.B. Bird and engraved by E.D. French

 One fortunate acquisition was a tattered 1911 edition of Freud's 'Interpretation of Dreams' with Charlie Chaplin's marvelous bookplate affixed to the inside of the front cover. The cover had separated from the book long ago, and that gave me the opportunity to frame the cover without committing the sin of destroying a historic book. I designed a frame with a hand-marbled-paper mat to surround the lovely view of Chaplin gazing at London with his trademark cane and shoes below and a theatrical mask above. Turning the frame over revealed the front of the book-cover with Freud's name and the title of his famous work. As a bonus, I commissioned Lynda Libby, a fine bookbinder from Washington State, to rebind the original book. Hanging in my gallery, I have no doubt that this little gem honoring Chaplin and Freud will be a great temptation to a future collector, especially considering that they can have Chaplin's personal copy of Freud's important book on their bookshelf while they enjoy a unique artwork on the wall.
Designed by Rob Wagner for Charlie  Chaplin

Another unique presentation was created for a spectacular hand-colored example of the Ohio print for the Manila Library by Hopson which was embellished with a beautiful remarque. This print was accompanied by the original booklet describing the commission and the symbolism of the various design elements. The booklet was beautiful as well as informative, so I designed a frame with a pocket on the outside of the glass to hold the information, which could be raised from the pocket by pulling on a Mylar tab. I was thrilled that the print and the booklet could both be elegantly displayed and fully studied. This one was only on my gallery's walls for a few weeks before one of my clients - a woman who had never collected a bookplate before - became enthralled with this treasure and bought it on the spot.

 I’ve continued to explore ways to combine the publication of a print with its creative process. I’ve designed frames that display an original printing plate by Carl Junge or Sarah Euginia Blake together with an example of their final print.

I have developed a frame  design using rare earth magnets that allow a small booklet to be shown off in a frame together with an associated print in such a way that the booklet can be easily removed from the frame for study. W. F. Hopson’s ‘Rowfantia’ proof and booklet was perfect for this cutting-edge frame.

 At its best, a framed bookplate should continue to tell the story of the artwork, combining the history of the era, the desires of the patron, and the artistic skill of the printmaker.

Jeffrey Price
Artists’ Bookplate Museum
at Artists’ Market
163 Main Street
Norwalk CT 06851

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bookplates in the Rabbit Hole

The Quest Begins 

By Jeffrey Price
Jeff and Esta

For the past forty years or so I have enjoyed collecting the woodcut bookplates by M. C. Escher and exhibiting them in my art gallery in Connecticut.   In addition to inventing prints where fish turn into birds and stairways that wind in endless loops,

Escher created about a dozen woodblock engraved bookplates, each one of them quite rare and loaded with historical connections and aesthetic virtues.

The Latin in this print gives it its title: "A Reader Banishes Troubles" The print is surrounded with a mat embellished with watercolor and ink, and the frame is created from white gold with hand engraving in the traditional scagrafitto technique.
M.C. Escher’s Works© The M.C. Escher Company,Baarn, The Netherlands

To celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Escher's birth in 1998, an exhibit was held in Holland that focused on Escher's bookplates and challenged artists around the world to create their own bookplate designs that somehow connected to Escher's unique and imaginative designs. I wrote to many of the artists who designed Escher-like prints, and my small collection grew to include marvelous prints by Peter Lazarov, Elle de Kosta, and many others.
Bookplates Inspired By M.C. Escher's Artwork

 In 2005 I commissioned Natalija Cernecova of Latvia to design a 'personal print' for my wife Esta and myself.
 Her brilliant etching featured a Venetian woman in a dress containing Escher-like butterflies, surrounded by floating spheres, and other delightful Escheresque and personal designs.
Cernecova's etching 'Scherzando' 

My small and specialized collection kept me happy for many years, and then I fell down the ex libris rabbit hole in November of 2015. Today, just.eight months later, thousands of bookplates are organized in my albums and in frames on the walls of my art gallery, and I feel I have caught a collecting bug for which – delightfully – there may be no cure.

Note From Lew

Here is Jeffrey Price's Contact Information

     Proprietor:  Artists' Market Inc.
      Collector :  Artists' Bookplate Museum
         Curator:  Famous Photographers Archive LLC
163 Main Street
Norwalk, CT 06851 USA
Open Monday - Saturday 9 -5 & Thursday tll 8pm
Closed Sundays

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Current and Future Events Plus Bugs Beasts and Birds

If I’m fit and well in four years time I shall be off to university at Cambridge. No, not Harvard, but to one of England’s historic cities, where The Bookplate Society is proposing to hold the 38th International Exlibris Congress, commencing Wednesday, 12 August 2020. Already some impressive groundwork is in place, which you can see by visiting the website at        and linked pages.

The formula of taking over a college worked very well in 1982 when the 19th congress took place at Keble College, Oxford. Since then the quality of student rooms has greatly improved, and the intended venue, Churchill College, offers good modern accommodation, including a newly-opened bedroom block with elevator. The ancient aspects of Cambridge will be appreciated  through tours of colleges and libraries, and by the formal dinner being held in the old dining hall of St John’s College. 

It appears that the organizers will be introducing some innovations, and with good forward planning in evidence this promises to be a busy and hugely enjoyable event. I can understand that there is intense competition to hold conferences in Oxford & Cambridge colleges, hence the need for very early booking.

Of course this all presupposes that, when they meet on 26 August 2016, FISAE delegates will vote to adopt this proposal, but the present troubles in Turkey (which held a congress as recently as 2010) don’t make it an attractive alternative for me. So I plan to book my place at Cambridge as soon as registration opens, and thus to get a 10% reduction in the participation fee. However, don’t expect to see me on the river in a punt!


Bookplate Exhibit Currently in Whittier California

George Washington Bookplates as well as other 18th century American bookplates are currently on display at The  Whittier public Library located at 7344 Washington Ave.  Whittier California 90602
 Tel. # 562 567 9900

Among the other highlights in the exhibit are the very rare Gabriel Johnston bookplate  as well as examples of plates by Nathaniel Hurd, Amos Doolittle, and Paul Revere. 

The bookplates were provided by fellow collector Jerry Peterson and new examples from his extensive collection will be added  every few months.

Bugs Beasts and Birds

 I am sorting through a very fine collection of bookplates that were originally owned by a herpetologist, It contains lots of snake related plates along with insects and all sorts of critters. In addition   many bookplates were from  scientists and physicians at the University of Chicago.
So far I have selected about thirty bookplates for my own collection.
Here are some examples.
 An article about the Emil August Goldi bookplate. *

Bookplate of the week: Emil August Göldi

Émil August Göldi (1859-1917), whose colorful bookplate is this week’s feature,was a Swiss-Brazilian zoologist who discovered numerous species of Amazonian wildlife, and researched the causes and prevention of yellow fever. Following a successful research career, Goldi was tasked by the Brazilian government with the founding of a scientific museum in Pará, which still exists today. 
Göldi’s bookplate, representing his background and various interests, is one of the few color bookplates in our collection.
This bookplate is part of the Daniel Butler Fearing collection at Houghton Library. Fearing collected several thousand bookplates related to angling, watercraft, and other related subjects.

Dr. Hugo Kahl      Affiliated with the Carnegie Museum    

C. de Mello Leitao                                                                        
A zoologist  considered the founder of Arachnologyin South America -  who has published 198 articles on taxonomy of arachnids .
He was also an educator, writing books for college courses . He contributed to biogeography , studies on the distribution of members of the class Arachnida in the South American continent.

Dr.Frank J. Psota was an Insect Collector
This plate depicting Moses was engraved by Engelien Reitsma Valencia.The first time I looked at it I missed something. The second time I looked  it made me laugh.
Sir John Eric Sidney Thompson (31 December 1898 – 9 September 1975) was a leading English Mesoamerican archaeologist, ethno historian, and epigrapher. While working in the United States, he dominated Maya studies and particularly the study of the Maya script until well into the sixties of the 20th century.
Otis Ellery Taylor specialized in ancient Persian architecture and wrote scholarly books  on this subject.This beautifully engraved plate is 4 1/4 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches high.I have not found any biographical information about him nor do I know  the meaning of the script.
Can anyone out there assist me ?

Charles Edward Jones , The Tombros Librarian for Classics and Humanities at The Pennsylvania State University Libraries.
  quickly responded with this information:

"This is a really interesting bookplate. To tell you the truth, until your message came, I thad never heard of the man. A little googling tells me something about him, but not very much. This page
"He met his lifelong friend and frequent travelling companion Otis Ellery Taylor in Vienna in 1928. There are indications that they had an extensive correspondence, but apart from a couple of postcards none of it survives as neither man left an archive behind.  Otis Taylor is the only friend Snelgrove ever made reference to in recorded public pronouncements, although you can glean the names of other friends from the list of pallbearers at his funeral, mainly professors and teachers.

Taylor, a first graduate of the College of Commerce at the University of Nebraska in 1915, was, on the surface, an unusual match for Snelgrove.  He worked for the Oswald Stoll organization managing theatres in London from 1917 and into the mid 1920s and then seems to have spent the rest of his life studying and travelling.  He was what can only be described as a bon vivant, frequently noted in various social columns as doing the rounds of Palm Springs, New York and Europe or Asia year after year. [vi] In 1931 he married a wealthy widow over 25 years his senior and eventually obtained a PHD in Art History from the University of Chicago in 1939, after making several trips to study Persian monuments. When his wife died in 1946, he was based in New York City, where he was involved for a brief time with The American Institute of Iranian Art & Archaeology and then the American Red Cross during the war.  Domiciled in swank apartment hotels until he died in 1988, he doesn’t seem to have ever done paid work as an art historian.
There is no indication that Taylor had any interest in being an art historian until he met Snelgrove, whose thirst for more knowledge must have appealed to him. Both of them enrolled at the University of Chicago for art history courses in the summer of 1929.[vii] Moose Jaw then had railway connections which could get you directly to Chicago..."

Notes From Lew

* Here are more postings from Harvard's Bookplate of the week series:

8/7/2016- Note received from Gordon Collette

Hi again Lew,
Just a quick note to say hello, and that thanks for putting up the UK Bookplate Society bid for FISAE 2020.
The image with the swans is one of mine. Hopefully see you there!
Also I have a new look website
and you can see all new stuff on my Facebook page:
Keep up the good work!
Best wishes,