Erotic bookplates by Franz von Bayros


Tuesday’s bookplate post included a rather mild example by Franz von Bayros (1866–1924), the greatest pornographic artist of his generation. Quite by accident I found a substantial collection of his work earlier this week that includes more bookplates.

Von Bayros is far better known today than he would have been during his lifetime when his explicit rococo prints and drawings were available only to collectors. Erotic couplings of any variety quickly become repetitive so the Von Bayros approach was to make a feature of the decor and design, creating elaborate frames and decorative embellishments where the tiniest details emphasise the theme. Alan Moore once described this process to me as “fractal porn”, something you can see at work in these bookplates which are part of a substantial cache at This is the best collection of Von Bayros art I’ve seen anywhere, quality copies for the most part, in with what appear to be complete sets from each of his illustrated editions. Whenever I look at this artist’s work I think it’s a shame he wasn’t gay. But then as Osgood says at the end of Some Like It Hot: “Nobody’s perfect!”



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