Important evidence for the provenance of books are small decorative labels pasted on the inside front cover of a book that typically bear a name, motto, coat-of-arms or any motif that relates to the owner of the book. Bookplate collecting began in the 19th century and most collections were built through the exchange of duplicate pieces.
Bookplates started as simple inscriptions in the Middle Ages, but by the Edwardian era evolved into elegant engravings and etchings known as ex-libris (‘from the books of…’). Having written about the Bloomsbury group in one way or another in earlier posts, I am not surprised that famous artists such as William Hogarth and members of the Bloomsbury group all designed bookplates for themselves and others. For more, check out The Bloomsbury Artists: Prints and Book Designs
Designed by William Fleming
I can’t resist bookplates that have garden themes. I imagine Miss Margaret April, kneeling in her garden weeding…the opening lines of Greening of a Heart inspired by such a person. “In the Cotswold village of Burford, Hannah Winchester pulled the oxalis that had sprung up throughout the garden’s herbaceous borders. The previous night’s rain allowed her to tease the roots effortlessly from the wet soil, the knew of her work trousers already soaked and black.”
Visit my Pinterest board – Bookplates for more examples