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Bookplates designed by artists

These bookplates were designed by an artist for a client or friend, and often engraved by the artist too, either on copper or wood. The only bookplate design by Mervyn Peake was probably not engraved by him, he just provided the drawing as part payment of a medical bill to his doctor who then had it made into a block for off-set printing on gummed paper.

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Added on 16/4/2023: Bookplates designed by Jack B. Yeats and Margaret Kemp-Welch.

Added on 11/8/2023: Bookplate designed by Robert Gibbings.

Added on 29/9/2023: Bookplate designed by Frank Brangwyn.

Artist: Mervyn Peake

For: N. Asherson

Date: 1937

Paper size: 101 x 96 mm

Design size: 86 x 84

Engraver: Not known

Signed: Mervyn Peake

Notes: This bookplate was designed by Mervyn Peake (1911-1968) for Dr Nehemiah Asherson, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. Asherson had treated the Peake family and the drawing was provided in part payment. The design shows the three bones in the middle ear, the malleus, incus and stapes, or hammer, anvil and stirrup.

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Artist: Henry Rushbury

For: D.R.H. Williams

Date: 1924

Paper size: 159 x 97 mm

Design size: 131 x 72 mm

Engraver: Henry Rushbury

Notes: This is one of only three bookplates designed by Sir Henry Rushbury (1889-1968), according to his catalogue raisonné. It is stained as someone taped the edge of the dustjacket over the bookplate, which was on the front pastedown.

No 49 in: Henry Rushbury Prints. A catalogue raisonné. (2010). London: The Royal Academy of Arts.

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Artist: Rex Whistler

For: Duff Cooper

Date: 1930s

Paper size: 115 x 85 mm

Design size: 97 x 69 mm

Engraver: Rex Whistler

Notes: Duff Cooper (1890-1954) was a Conservative politician, diplomat and historian. In 1919 he married Diana Manners a famously glamorous woman. She is depicted at the top of this bookplate, designed by Rex Whistler (1905-1944), who died during the invasion of Normandyin World War II, aged 39. He painted the wonderful murals in the restaurant of the Tate Gallery at Millbank in London when he was only 22.

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Artist: Rex Whistler

For: Kenneth Rae

Date: 1931

Paper size: 109 x 79 mm

Plate size: 95 x 68 mm

Design size: 86 x 63 mm

Engraver: Not known

Notes: Kenneth Rae (1890-1954) was Editor of the Sunday Times and Secretary to the Board of the National Theatre. Rex Whistler (1905-1944) designed this bookplate for him to thank him for lending some skiing equipment. The proof in the Victoria and Albert Museum states that it is a soft ground etching.

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Artist: Eric Gill

For: Francis Meynell

Date: 1914

Paper size: 112 x 92 mm

Design size: 80 x 64 mm

Engraver: Eric Gill

Notes: It is a wood engraving. Francis Meynell (1891-1975) was a poet and printer. The bookplate was designed for him by Eric Gill an artist and designer of type faces. The proof in the British Museum is dated 1914.

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Artist: William Evelyn Chappel

For:June Moore

Date: 1926

Paper size: 187 x 125 mm

Design size: 150 x 113 mm

Engraver: Not known

Notes: This interesting bookplate from the mid-1920s was designed for June Moore (1898-1964), born June Langley, who in 1918 married a man named John Sugden Moore and took the name June Langley Moore. June's younger sister, Doris (1902-1989), married John's brother Robert, and took the name Doris Langley Moore. Doris was a historian of fashion and founded the Fashion Museum in Bath. She also wrote books about Lord Byron and a biography of E. Nesbit. In 1933 Doris and June published a guide for society hostesses called The Pleasure of Your Company (1933). This book (and the bookplate) were illustrated by William Chappel (1907-1994) who was a ballet dancer, designer and director. It must have been fun to be in your 20s in the 1920s.

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Artist: William Evan Charles Morgan

For: Victoria Wemyss

Date: 1930s

Paper size: 117 x 85 mm

Plate size: not known

Design size: 101 x 77 mm

Notes: This bookplate was designed and engraved by William E.C. Morgan in the late 1930s for Lady Victoria Alexandrina Violet Erskine-Wemyss née Cavendish-Bentinck, who was a god child of Queen Victoria. She was the only daughter of the sixth Duke of Portland and was brought up as a vegetarian. During the First World War she worked in an aircraft factory in London where she was unknown until the King visited the factory, he spotted her in the crowd, and greeted her by name. In November 1918 she married Captain Michael John Erskine Wemyss. They lived at Wemysss Castle in Fife, Scotland, which is depicted in the engraving. She died in 1994 aged 104.

This is one of only five known bookplates by William E.C. Morgan (1903-1979), an exceptionally fine engraver.

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Artist: mark Severin

For: J. Frederick Smith

Date: 1950s?

Paper size: 139 x 119 mm

Plate size: 85 x 67

Design size: 59 x 49 mm

Designer: Mark Severin

Engraver: Mark Severin

Notes: This bookplate was designed and engraved by Mark Severin, probably in the 1950s for J. Frederick Smith, who was Chief Librarian at Liverpool Public Library. The Liver Building and a Liver bird (A Cormorant) are depicted in the plate with a woman wearing a low-cut dress. Severin designed about 500 bookplates, many of which were erotic in their subject matter, some of which were anatomical in their detail of female genitalia. I can't imagine lending a book with such a bookplate, so perhaps they were commissioned by men who collected erotica? This bookplate is quite modest in comparison.

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Artist: john Farleigh

For: Bank of England Library and Literary Association

Date: 1950s?

Paper size: 110 x 181 mm

Plate size: none

Design size: 96 x 66 mm

Notes: This bookplate was designed and engraved on wood by John Farleigh (1900-1965), probably in the 1950s for The Library and Literary Association of the Bank of England. This group published 346 issues of a magazine called The Old Lady from March 1921 to December 2007. It was founded by a group of literary-minded Bank staff.

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Artist: Reynolds Stone

For: Brian North Lee

Date: 1970s?

Paper size: 81 x 84 mm

Plate size: none

Design size: 66 x 68 mm

Notes: This bookplate was designed and engraved on wood by Reynolds Stone (1909-1979), probably in the 1970s for Brain North Lee, a prolific writer on the subject of bookplates who had many designed for him.

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Artist: Philip Hagreen

For: Alphonsus Montague Summers

Date: 1930s?

Paper size: 96 x 75 mm

Plate size: none

Design size: 83 x 56 mm

Notes: This bookplate was designed and engraved on wood by Philip Hagreen (1890-1988) for Augustus Montague Summers (1880-1948), a self-styled Catholic priest who called himself Reverend Alphonsus Joseph-Mary Augustus Montague Summers. Summers taught Latin and English in boys' schools and was a literary schoolar who was said to be preoccupied with Catholicism, Satantism and pederasty. He was prosecuted for sexual impropriety with young boys, tried, and acquited. These days he would probably not have been allowed to teach children.

Philiph Hagreen was also religious and in 1932 moved to Ditchling in East Sussex where he joined the The Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic, a community of people working in art and crafts. He lived to be 98.

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Artist: Jessie M. King

For: Amy Paget

Date: c1904

Paper size: 146 x 88 mm

Plate size: 114 x 58

Design size: 102 x 48 mm

Notes: This was designed for Amy Olivia Paget (1858-1948), one of 14 children of Lord Alfred Henry Paget (1816-1888) and his wife, Cecelia née Wyndham (1829-1914). Amy lived for most of her life, including both World Wars, at Château de Garibondy, situated on a hill overlooking Cannes in the south of France.

The plate was designed by Jessie M[arion] King (1875-1949) who was best known for her illustrated children's books. She is said to have been an influence on the development of Art Deco. She believed in fairies.

The Latin phrase 'Gloria deo in excelsis' means 'Glory to god in the highest'. The two turrets at the top of the image are based on Château de Garibondy which also has a large fir tree in front of it, which is still there according to current photographs.

I found proofs of this plate in the two volumes of The Queen's Comrade. The Life and Times of Sarah Duchess of Marlborough by Fitzgerald Molloy (Hutchinson, 1901).

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Image of signature

Artist: Louis de Maier

For: AP, Chateau de Garibondy

Date: unknown

Paper size: 110 x 152 mm

Plate size: 62 x 98

Design size: 54 x 90 mm

Notes: This is another bookplate designed for Amy Paget for her house, Château de Garibondy. The scene probably shows the view from the house over the bay of Cannes, flanked by fir trees with sisal plants in the foreground. There is a plate mark but it doesn't look like an engraving or etching, more like a poorly reproduced watercolour.

I can't find out anything about Louis de Maier except there is a folio of 15 bookplates designed by him, mostly armorial, published in 1923.

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Artist: Jack B. Yeats

For: Constantinus Curran

Date: c1940

Paper size: 139 x 86 mm

Plate size: not known

Design size: 113 x 83 mm

Notes: This was designed for Constantine Peter Curran (1883-1972) by Jack Butler Yeats (1871-1957). Curran was a Court Registrar in Ireland and a critic of art and architecture who wrote a monograph on the work of Jack B. Yeats. The bookplate is reproduced on the cover of a booklet called Revolutionary Dublin's Literary Networks: C.P. Curran, Helen Laird and James Joyce's Ulysses to accompany an exhibition in the University College Dublin Special Collections Reading Room, which can be seen here.

I found proofs of this bookplate in a very badly damaged copy of A Century of painters of the English School by Richard Redgrave R.A. and Samuel Redgrave, published by Smith, Elder and Co, in 1866.

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Artist: Margaret Kemp-Welch

For: Ida Emily Southerden

Date: c1925

Paper size: 135 x 102 mm

Plate size: 114 x 84

Design size: 114 x 84 mm

Notes: This etched bookplate was designed for Ida Emily Southerden (1870-1946), who taught Science at Clapham High School for girls, presumably where she met the artist Margaret Kemp-Welch (1874-1968), who also taught there.

I found proofs in the three volumes of Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles by W.J. Bean published by John Murray, fifth edition, April 1929.

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Artist: Robert Gibbings

For: The Book Society

Date: c1930

Paper size: 125 x 98 mm

Plate size: none

Design size: 105 x 80 mm

Notes: This is an example of a universal design for a bookplate for use by members of the Book Society who could write their own name in the scroll under 'Ex libris'. It is probably a wood engraving by Robert Gibbings (1889-1958), an Irish artist and writer.

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Artist: Frank Brangwyn

For: H. Harrison

Date: c1920

Paper size: 160 x 91 mm

Plate size: none

Design size: 132 x 63 mm

Notes: This bookplate was designed by Frank Brangwyn for Henry Cowperthwaite Harrison, the author of Surnames of the United Kingdom: a concise etymological dictionary published between 1912 and 1920 by the Eaton Press and Morland Press.

Harrison seems to have been a self-made man. In the 1891 census he was listed as a Merchant's Clerk aged 24 living in London with his wife Catherine Angus Harrison née Miller, who was 10 years older than him. They had daughters in 1891 and 1894 - Constance Kathleen and Margaret Mary - neither of whom married.

In the 1901 census the Harrisons were living in Wandsworth with Henry listed as a Private Journalist, presumably writing for publication. His wife died aged 51 in 1908 and he married again in 1910, aged 43, to Gytha Marjory Lettice Pulling, who was 24. They had a son in 1911 named Eric Athelstan Pulleyne Harrison.

In the 1911 census Harrison was listed as Author Journalist, presumably working on his Dictionary of Surnames, which is said to have taken him 30 years to write. It was published in many parts over the next 10 years. His wife, Gytha, was credited too, but she died aged 31 in 1917.

So Henry married for a third time, 25-year old Emily Winstanley Ford in September 1917, with whom he had a daughter in July 1918, Mildred Winstanley Harrison, named ‘Mollie’.

This bookplate was issued inside a 24-page privately printed book entitled Mollie Rhymes containing verses presumably written by her father and published from their house in Longfield, Kent. The edition was printed in March 1920, limited to 125 copies.

Henry Harrison died in Bournemouth the following year, on 25th February 1921 aged 54, of pneumonia. He had been married to his third wife for just 3½ years. She lived for another 66 years, before dying in 1987 in a nursing home in East Grinstead, aged 95. Harrison's daughter Constance had died in 1952 aged 61; Margaret had died in 1980 aged 86; son Eric had died in 1963 aged 52, and Mollie, who inspired this book of rhymes and the use of the bookplate, had died in September 1947 aged only 29.

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