Collecting and Collections
Heralds, family historians and biographers, print collectors, graphic artists, and bibliographers all view bookplates from different angles. Many of our subscribers do not actively collect bookplates. There is such a wide range of bookplate work that no two collections are quite alike. Some collectors are firmly restricted to specific themes or styles of bookplate, others limit themselves to the work of particular artists and engravers, or to the bookplates of a particular era or locality.

In Continental Europe there is rather limited availability of pre-1900 bookplates, so collectors are more active in commissioning modern works for themselves, for the purpose of exchange.

Apart from collections in private hands, the top ten institutional holdings in the United Kingdom and Ireland are to be found at:

        London     1. British Museum Dept. of Prints & Drawings (AW Franks & GH Viner)
2. Society of Antiquaries (CH Crouch and RG Rice)
        Liverpool     Liverpool Public Libraries (JC Stitt, H Harben, Sligo and others)
Access is not possible at present because the Central Library is closed for major refurbishment and is not due to re-open until 2013.
        Edinburgh     National Library of Scotland (J Henderson Smith and others)
        Aberystwyth     National Library of Wales (Sir Evan Davies Jones and others)
        Dublin     National Library of Ireland (W Chamney, N Wilkinson, M Dorey)
        Oxford     Bodleian Library (John Johnson and Walter Harding) Access is not possible at present because the Weston Library (formerly known as the New Bodleian) is closed for major refurbishment and will not re-open until 2015.
        Manchester     1. John Rylands Library (as a Society we visited this collection in June 2008) (Lord de Tabley, Rylands, Perez and others)
2. Chethams Library (The Heraldry Society's WW Porteous collection)
        Cambridge     The Fitzwilliam Museum (as a Society we visited this collection in June 2005) (VM Turnbull)

An almost uniform requirement for these and other smaller collections is that visits should be arranged in advance. Librarians sometimes require references and identification.

The John Johnson Collection website is worth visiting, to see an interesting virtual exhibition of trade cards and other ephemera. Also, over 3,000 bookplates have been catalogued by a volunteer, who is halfway through the Johnson sequence. Her records can be seen under Catalogue in the menu on the left of the JJColl homepage.

Links to Websites about Collecting

Benoît Junod's Advice to a Beginner Collector
and at the same site is the
FISAE list of symbols for techniques used in printed ex-libris

Ex-libris or the Mark of Possession of Books, by Benoît Junod

Anne Fine examines bookplates; other pages cover children's bookplates

Notes to an Exhibition of Bookplates, University of Calgary Library

© The Bookplate Society 2011