Archive for March 23rd, 2012

Bookplate porn: “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I miss them.  You know what I mean:  those exquisite bookplates you used to run across when you peeked into the top-notch books in the finest libraries or secondhand bookstores. I miss them, even though I admit I have grown attached to the practical “From the Library of …” embosser I use to efficiently process my books and ward off potential book thieves. It gets the job done, and looks dignified and restrained – but it’s cheating, really. Not the classy way to go.  This is.  You know it when you see it.

We’ve written before about bookshelf porn – and we’ve talked about library porn and bookstore porn.  But there’s something intimate and cozy about bookplate porn.  You can’t, after all, imagine yourself toddling off with the University of Coimbra General Library in Portugal, but you can fantasize taking home one of the beauties pictured on this post, slipping one in-between the pages of a book for quiet, solitary delectation later.

Here are a few to make you drool.  I have seen a few of them before while browsing in the Stanford Libraries (they really are some of the best I’ve seen),  but someone pointed out a whole website of them here.  I only got to the “L”s before I found more than enough to fill a blog post on a slow Friday night.

This is how it works for the Stanford Libraries:  A bookplate is created when a donor gives a substantial and important collection, or  when a donor starts an endowed fund for library materials. Lisa Haderlie Baker, whose blog is here, has created most of Stanford’s  bookplates over the past decade or so.  (Check out the blog – she makes gorgeous cards as well.)

Given my propensity for butterflies, birds, and bees in this sampling, it’s obvious that spring is on my mind. Yet I reserve a special affection for the high-concept bookplate at right, with its almost-Tibetan clouds.  And the Charlotte Salomon bookplate is an obvious favorite, we’ve written about her before.

Here’s a thought.  This is too much fun.  If you send me digital forms of your own favorite bookplates, we’ll do a follow-up post with your picks.

But I bet you can’t match these.  Go ahead.  Try.