Guide to the Collection
Personal and institutional bookplates from America, Australia, Canada, England, and Germany.
Bookplates, sometimes called Ex Libris, have a long and interesting history. Initially a tool to identify the owner of a book and to prevent theft (or ensure safe return) of valuable property, bookplates evolved from mere identification into tiny works of art and reflections of the owner's personality and aspirations. The first known bookplate dates from 15th-century Germany, but the earliest bookplate found here is from 1685, a plate bearing the inscription "Gulielmus Payne Me suis addidit MDC,LXXXV." Perhaps the most common bookplates to be found are armorial bookplates, featuring family coats of arms and mottoes, which became prevalent in bookplate design from an early date. As Charles Dexter Allen somewhat cheekily observed, these armorial designs display both "pride of ancestry and love of the display of aristocratic claims." Also quite common are simple labels with the owner's name, sometimes enclosed in a border of engraving or type ornaments. Around the turn of the last century, bookplate design became much more creative and personal, with designers creating plates that reflected the interests of their clients—homes, pets, hobbies, portraits. In this period, many of the bookplates never made it into books, but instead were collected and traded among fellow enthusiasts. The collecting and trading of bookplates reached its peak between the 1880s and 1950s, and most of the plates in the MHS collection date from this era.
Allen, Charles Dexter. American Book-Plates: A Guide to Their Study. London: George Bell & Sons, 1895.
Bookplates and Other Engravings by Edwin Davis French. Cleveland: The Rowfant Club, 1911.
Castle, Egerton. English Book-Plates: An Illustrated Handbook for Students of Ex-Libris. London: George Bell & Sons, 1892.
Fowler, Alfred. A Directory of Bookplate Artists With Notes Concerning Their Work. Kansas City: Alfred Fowler, 1921.
Hardy, W. J. Book-Plates. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1893.
Warren, John Byrne Leicester. A Guide to the Study of Book-Plates (Ex-Libris). New York and London: John Lane, the Bodley Head, 1900.
The MHS bookplate collection contains early American designs by Nathaniel Hurd and Joseph Callender, but the bulk of this collection dates from the turn of the 19th century and includes such notable bookplate designers as Edwin Davis French, Stanley Harrod, Sidney Lawton Smith, and J. Winfred Spenceley. American, Australian, Canadian, and European designs are all included in this grouping. There are also many women's bookplates, in addition to bookplates designed by women, including designer/collectors Sara Eugenia Blake and Ella Dwyer. Where known, the designers of bookplates have been added to the entry and an index to bookplate artists appears at the end of the guide.
In addition to bookplates of individuals, the MHS also holds many bookplates from libraries, private and public, from across the country, including early examples of bookplates from the MHS and other institutions.
This collection has been created by the MHS from individual gifts, exchanges, and removals from manuscript collections.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Personal bookplates
Arranged alphabetically by last name of bookplate owner.
Personal bookplates, A-C
Personal bookplates, D-G
Library of Beatrix Farrand.
Personal bookplates, H-N
Personal bookplates, O-S
Identified as Noah Porter, president of Yale University.
Personal bookplates, T-Z
II. Corporate bookplates
Arranged alphabetically by name of library.
Corporate bookplates, A-L
Corporate bookplates, M-Z
Index of Bookplate Artists
Listed below are artists, designers, and engravers of signed bookplates in this collection, followed by the folder number(s) containing plates by that person.
|Aikman, Walter M. (1857-1939): 148|
|Andrew, Richard: 199|
|Anthony, Frank D.: 207, 208|
|Ayearst, Morley J. (1899-1893): 82|
|Baker, T.: 23|
|Barnet, P. Neville: 6, 27, 138, 172|
|Barrett, William Phillips (active 1896-1928): 212|
|Beal, H. Martin: 299|
|Bicknell, W. H. W.: 342|
|Bird, Elisha Brown: 175, 263, 279|
|Blake, Sara Eugenia (1886-1973): 47, 61, 91-93, 133, 184, 216|
|Brown, H. C.: 5|
|C., S.: 64|
|Callender, John: 275|
|Chamberlain, Julian I.: 232|
|Cole, Timothy (1852-1931): 236, 261|
|Cox, Arthur Cleveland: 174|
|Doty, Edward L.: 199|
|Downey, Alfred J.: 110, 241, 420|
|Dwyer, Ella Maggie (1887-1979): 46, 79, 80, 114, 173, 198, 203|
|Elwell, John H.: 51, 60|
|Engel, E. V.: 303|
|Everett, R.: 147, 148|
|French, Edwin Davis (1851-1906): 34, 109, 113, 117, 120, 135, 144, 177, 196, 263, 279, 283, 285, 289, 313, 335, 372|
|Gage, Harry Lawrence: 45|
|Garrett, Edmund H. (1853-1929): 179, 380|
|Greenough, William: 73|
|Gustav, Abel: 71|
|H., E. C.: 205|
|Harrod, Stanley: 18-20, 50, 75, 76, 128|
|Hein, Franz: 257|
|Hohne, R.: 70|
|Hopson, William Fowler (1849-1935): 41, 116, 134, 146, 168, 176, 266|
|Hurd, Nathaniel (1730-1777): 286|
|Junge, Carl S. (1880-1972): 186|
|Lankes, Julius J. (1884-1960): 254|
|Le Campion, Valentin (1903-1952): 37, 69|
|Lukerman, Augustus: 322|
|Lyon, William: 239, 306|
|MacDonald, Arthur Nelson (1866-1940): 48, 63, 112, 149, 187, 189, 232, 251, 268, 288, 291|
|Merrymount Press: 57, 350, 351|
|Neuner, G.: 304|
|Payne, Dorothy: 88|
|Pissaro, Lucien: 11|
|Riquer, Alexandre de (1856-1920): 290|
|Ruzicka, Rudolph (1883-1978): 321, 418|
|Sherborn, Charles William (1831-1912): 65, 233|
|Smith, Sidney Lawton (1845-1929): 21, 83, 99, 126, 147, 150, 151, 162, 169, 233, 271, 300, 301. 328, 426, 427|
|Spenceley, J. Winfred (1865-1908): 81, 105, 111, 141, 170, 234, 259|
|Stauffer, David McNeely (1845-1914): 213, 214|
|Stockmann, H.: 305|
|Sturges, Dwight Case (1874-1940): 225|
|Thomson, R.: 190|
|Vannuccini, Enrico (1900-1990): 89, 90|
|W., H. A.: 42|
|Wendt, Julia Bracken: 86|
Massachusetts Historical Society bookplate collection, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.