I don’t use bookplates, and don’t know anyone who does, but the conjunction between art and literature is a fascinating one. Exlibris (Bucheignerzeichen) (1909) by Walter von Zur Westen explores the history of the bookplate, and would no doubt answer some of my questions about the form if it wasn’t in German throughout, and also typeset in the semi-legible Fraktur style that used to be de rigueur for all German texts.
We still have the illustrations, however, and these range from woodcut engravings to contemporary works in pencil and ink, with many of the later contributions being from established artists whose names are familiar today; among the examples below are works by Symbolists Max Klinger, Fernand Khnopff and Felicien Rops. There’s also an especially fine example by Charles Ricketts. The latter are a reminder that bookplate commissions were a common thing for 19th-century artists, although their efforts are seldom seen outside collections such as this. Much of Zur Westen’s history is devoted to the German regions but later chapters cover other European countries and the United States.
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A few plates by Koloman Moser from Allegorien: Neue Folge (1896), a collection of allegorical drawings, graphics and emblems by a number of artists in Moser’s circle, including Gustav Klimt, Franz Stuck and Carl Otto Czeschka. I keep hoping someone might upload a complete set of these plates but this doesn’t seem to have happened yet. Publisher and editor Martin Gerlach later commissioned Die Quelle (1901), a book of patterns and designs by Moser, several of which prefigure the tessellations of MC Escher.
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Not all the bookplates here are German, the selection includes examples from Franz von Bayros and Walter Crane. The plates are from the 1907 proceedings of the Ex Libris Association of Berlin. I’d not seen anything by Mathilde Ade before but a quick search reveals her to have been a prolific bookplate illustrator. There’s more of her work here (and that blog is also worth a browse).
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Artist: Phil May (1895).
The bookplates housed at the Library of Congress aren’t all available for online viewing which is a shame when their collection includes notable examples such as these. Three of the plates here were designed by the artists whose books they identified; two of the others are for writers—Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jack London—while the sixth one is for Charlie Chaplin. The artists’ plates look like continuations of the work of their creators which makes them less interesting than those of the writers and actor, all three of which say something about the way these men saw themselves reflected in their work: the pantheon of characters from Burroughs’ fiction; Chaplin’s poor boy conquering London; and Jack London’s lone wolf daring you to try to steal his book.
Artist: Frederic Remington (between 1880? and 1909).
Artist: Studley Burroughs (between 1914 and 1922).
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More porn. The Internet Archive has, until recently, been a somewhat chaste place where illustrations of sexual encounters are concerned. That’s mostly a result of their books being scans of works from libraries that wouldn’t have stocked illustrated editions of De Sade and company. Les Amis du Crime, together with yesterday’s volume, is part of the Wellcome Library’s sexology collection, an archive that includes eye-catching titles such as Curious Cases of Flagellation in France (1901).
Les Amis du Crime dates from around 1929. “Célio” was a pseudonym of artist Paul-Albert Moras whose woodcut illustrations imitate the engraved illustrations of De Sade’s own time. The borders follow the erotic style favoured by Franz von Bayros, albeit without Bayros’s attention to detail and graphic invention. This is, however, the first book I’ve seen where the page numbers are positioned between a woman’s open legs.
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