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There is no order or method to my collection of bookplates other than that I prefer pictorial to armorial plates, and I'm not really interested in bookplates designed much before 1900. It's just fun to look inside the front cover of an inexpensive book and find an interesting plate or to come across a bookdealer who has bookplates for sale, which is uncommon. If the bookplate looks interesting and the book isn't too expensive then I buy it, and I still have the book after I have carefully removed the bookplate. However I do have copies of the only bookplate designed by Mervyn Peake, whose books and drawings I collect, and it's nice to have an example of a bookplate designed by the major British designers of the 20th century.
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Added on 16/10/2022: Bookplates designed by Nevile Wilkinson and (perhaps) Charles Cleverly.
Added on 7/3/2023: Bookplate designed by Jessie M. King.
Added on 16/4/2023: Bookplates designed by Jack B. Yeats and Margaret Kemp-Welch.
Paper size: 101 x 96 mm
Design size: 86 x 84
Designer: Mervyn Peake
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.
Paper size: 130 x 92 mm
Design size: 95 x 63 mm
Designer: Leo Wyatt
Engraver: Leo Wyatt
Notes: This bookplate was designed by engraver and bookplate designer Leo Wyatt (1909-1981) for himself. He was born in South Africa.
Paper size: 97 x 67 mm
Design size: 88 x 57 mm
Designer: Philip Tilden
Signed: PT (lower right corner)
Notes: This bookplate was designed by Philip Tilden (1887-1956) for Philip Sassoon (1888-1939). The book in which I found it had a label for Port Lympne, Sassoon's house.
Date: June 1897
Paper size: trimmed 63 x 51 mm
Design size: 52 x 44 mm
Designer: Hilaire Belloc
Engraver: Hilaire Belloc
Notes: This tiny and rather crudely engraved bookplate was designed and signed to the right by the writer and poet Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) for Maurice Baring (1874-1945). It was found underneath the bookplate of Philip Sassoon, above, which was a nice surprise.
Paper size: 114 x 81 mm (trimmed)
Design size: 69 x 105 mm
Notes: Weird: a vampire bat holding onto an inverted heart. Do you think she had a bad experience in love?
Mary Hunter (1856-1933) was described as a 'society hostess'. She was sculpted in white marble by Auguste Rodin and painted by John Singer Sargent, both of which are in the Tate. Her husband died in 1916 leaving her with £270,000, which is equivalent to about £19.5 million in terms of simple purchasing power in 2021, but she got through it and was forced to leave Hill Hall and sell her possessions. The sale is described in the letters of Virginia Woolfe.
H. Clifford Mortimer
Paper size: 144 x 101 mm (trimmed)
Design size: 124 x 80 mm
Designer: Bernard Partridge
Notes: A bookplate designed by Bernard Partridge (1861-1945), a famous cartoonist for Punch magazine, for Clifford Mortimer, the father of John Mortimer.
Paper size: 138 x 101 mm
Design size: 115 x 75 mm
Notes: I have found two possible Walter Dexters. An artist named Walter Dexter R.B.A., died in 1958 aged 81 after being knocked down by a motorcycle, but he had two hands according to pictures. However I found this bookplate in a book on etching, so the hook may be a joke. The other Walter Dexter was honorary literary editor of The Dickensian magazine and died on 16th May 1944 aged 66. I don't know who designed the plate, which is initialled R.A.M.
Osbert Salvin and Frederick Ducane Godman
Paper size: 149 x 88 mm
Design size: 127 x 67 mm
Notes: Osbert Salvin (1835-1898) and Frederick Ducane Godman (1834-1919) were both biologists who studied the flora and fauna of South America. They are linked by the Godman-Salvin medal for ornithology which was instituted in 1919 in their memory. This engraving may be associated with that medal. I don't know who the designer was, but it's quite fine.
Bradley Martin, Junr
Paper size: 131 x 104 mm
Design size: 113 x 90 mm
Notes: Bradley Martin (1841-1913) was an American financier and industrialist who rented Balmacaan House and its estate overlooking Loch Ness for many years from the 1880s. The bookplate shows the ruins of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness and indicates Mr Martin's past times during his visits to Scotland.
Sara Holmes Grant
Paper size: 122 x 78 mm
Design size: 63 x 42 mm
Designer: Frederick Spenceley
Engraver: Frederick Spenceley
Notes: This plate is signed by the American bookplate designer and engraver, Frederick Spenceley (1872-1947)
Paper size: 159 x 97 mm
Design size: 131 x 72 mm
Designer: Henry Rushbury
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.
Paper size: 115 x 85 mm
Design size: 97 x 69 mm
Designer: 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.
Paper size: 109 x 79 mm
Plate size: 95 x 68 mm
Design size: 86 x 63 mm
Designer: Rex Whistler
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.
Paper size: 112 x 92 mm
Design size: 80 x 64 mm
Designer: Eric Gill
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.
Paper size: 187 x 125 mm
Design size: 150 x 113 mm
Designer: William Evelyn Chappel
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.
Charles H. Athill
Paper size: 114 x 76 mm
Design size: 100 x 61 mm
Designer: Harry Soane
Notes: I have included one armorial design by Harry Soane of London W.C., as an example of his work. The design was for Charles Harold Athill who was Richmond Herald at the Royal College of Arms from 1889 to 1919, so presumably knew how to design a coat of arms.
Nathan of Churt
Paper size: 128 x 103 mmPlate size: 117 x 92 mm (approx)
Design size: 101 x 82 mm
Designer: H J F Badeley
Engraver: H J F Badeley
Notes: This an example of the work of Henry John Fanshawe Badeley (1874-1951), 1st and only Baron, who was Clerk of Parliament and an amateur engraver. He studied under Sir Frank Short and was Honorary Secretary of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers.
This plate was for Harry Louis Nathan (1889-1963), a lawyer and politician. He served during World War 1 as a Major in the 1st London Regiment and was wounded. He was an MP from 1929 until 1940, when he stepped aside to make way for Ernest Bevin, and was created Baron Nathan of Churt in Surrey. The pineapples on the supporters are in fact stylised hand grenades.
Eric M Fraser
Paper size: 103 x 83 mm
Plate size: no plate mark
Design size: 103 x 83 mm
Notes: This bookplate was designed for Eric Malcolm Fraser (1896-1960), the youngest of eight sons of Professor Sir Thomas Richard Fraser, a Scottish medical physiologist. He also had three sisters.
When he left Edinburgh Academy in July 1915 he was awarded Dux of the whole school, the Clyde and Millar Greek Prize, a prize for bagpipe playing and 3rd prize in a shooting competition. He joined the Seaforth Highlanders and was immediately appointed as a temporary Second Lieutenant. Fraser was mentioned in despatches in December 1917 as a Lieutenant.
After the war Fraser joined Brunner, Mond & Co. Ltd (later ICI) in 1919. On 8th May 1929 he married Joy Frances Pease (1906-1981) of Darlington at St. Margaret's Church, Westminster (see photograph, below left). She was 23, he was 33. They had no children.
During the Second World War he was appointed Director of Investigations and Statistics at the War Office in 1939; Director-General of Equipment Production in the Ministry of Aircraft Production in 1942; and in 1943 became Director-General of Aircraft Production. He was awarded a CBE in 1946. After the war he worked for Imperial Chemical Industries as a Personnel Manager from 1946 to 1958. He lived at Radnor House, New Street, Henley-on-Thames. He died in 1960, aged 64 y, presumably before enjoying retirement.
I removed the bookplate from a copy of The Gothick North. The Fair-Haired Victory (1930) by Sacheverell Sitwell.
Louise J Sassoon
Paper size: 112 x 198 mm
Design size: 74 x 65 mm
Designer: INV F.G.H. (Frank George House)
Engraverer: J.A.C. Harrison
Notes: This is an example of a bookplate 'invented' by Frank George House, who was the manager of bookplate printers Truslove and Hanson. It was not engraved by House, but by John Augustus Charles Harrison (1872-1955). I thank Anthony Pincott of The Bookplate Society for this information.
This plate was for Louise Judith Sassoon (1873-1964), the daughter of businessman Reuben David Sassoon. At the age of 40 in 1914, she married Sir Charles Cavendish Boyle, a colonial adminstrator, who was then aged 65 years. He died during an operation two years later, and his widow survived him for another 48 years, dying in 1964 aged 91. She was awarded an OBE for her work in Hove with the Red Cross during World War 1.
Date: c 1900
Paper size: 116 x 84 mm
Plate size: 95 x 78 mm
Design size: 85 x 60 mm
Notes: This bookplate is for Major Ernest Nathaniel Dawson (1864-1949), a younger brother of Alec John Dawson who wrote a book on dogs that was illustrated by Edmund Blampied.
Ernest Dawson was a Major in the British army and became a District Judge of Moulmien, Burma, based in Akyab (see signed title page of the book in which this plate was found). Akyab is now called Sittwe and Burma is now called Myanmar. I have been to Sittwe and visited the Lawkarnada Pagoda, which is shown through the open window with the leaves of what I think is a Frangipani tree. At the top the sword and the scales represent the army and the law, Ernest's two occupations. An emblem of the Freemasons is shown in the circle above the name. The Latin motto means 'For King and Country' with the Union flag to the left and possibly the royal arms of England to the right. There is a butterfly on the arm of the chair, which is a nice touch.
He married Alice Mary Dawson at Christ Church in Rangoon in May 1895 and she divorced him in May 1924 for reasons of 'desertion and misconduct', as he had been found in bed with another woman at a hotel in Euston, usually a contrivance to provide grounds for divorce. He retired to Hastings-on-Sea.
Ernest Dawson knew Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad and gave talks or wrote articles about them.
Paper size: 128 x 96 mm
Plate size: 116 x 85 mm
Design size: 103 x 75 mm
Designer: J. Grosvenor 1915
Engraver: Emery Walker Ph. sc
Notes: This bookplate was engraved by Sir Emery Walker, an engraver and printer who, I suspect, was a friend of Sylvia Earl.
According to newspaper articles, Sylvia Earl wrote plays for her friends, which is what the artist, J. Grosvenor, indicates in his design for this bookplate. One of her plays, a four-act comedy called A Surplus Man, was performed as a single matinee at the Court Theatre in London on Monday 21st July 1924 in aid of the Disabled Soldiers' Embroidery Industry. The eminent cast included Ernest Thesiger, Mary Brough, Irene Rooke, Aubrey Mather and Stella Arbanina. The play was reviewed in The Sketch, The Daily Mirror and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. I can find nothing more about her.
Paper size: 96 x 59 mm
Plate size: not known
Design size: 67 x 47 mm
Designer: CWS 1896
Engraver: Charles Sherborn
Notes: This bookplate was designed and engraved by Charles William Sherborn in 1896 for Elizabeth 'Lily' Antrobus (b c1867, d 16th November 1944, aged 77). His initials and the date are engraved on the spine of one of the books. Lily was the daughter of Hugh Lindsay Antrobus, a Director of Coutts, a bank. When he died in 1899 he left her £10,000, equivalent to about £1,150,000 today in terms of purchasing parity. In 1903 she lived at Cadogan Square in London. In 1907 she was a member of both the Ladies Automobile Club and the London Automobile Club and drove a Hotchkiss 29-31 h.p. car, possibly the 2-door tourer. In 1908 she had a house built for her a French style in nearly 18 acres of land at Tilford in Surrey called Charles Hill Court. She collected English pottery and gave many pieces to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Andrew & Mary Henderson Bishop
Paper size: 165 x 114 mm
Plate size: not known
Design size: 95 x 71 mm
Engraver: See detail
Notes: This bookplate was for Andrew Henderson Biship (1874-1957), who was Chairman of Cooper & Co., Glasgow, a large general shop, and his wife Mary Gibb Henderson Bishop (1870-1935), daughter of Sir Robert McAlpine, whose building company still exists today. She was 13 years younger than her husband when they married but died aged 64. He lived for another 22 years to die in 1957, aged 83.
The design seems to be a woodcut but the artist, probably Scottish, is not known. The designer's initials or motif are shown in the detail. They could be letters or an anchor on its side. If you know who this is, please let me know.
(Click to enlarge)
(Detail: click to enlarge)
Paper size: 117 x 85 mm
Plate size: not known
Design size: 101 x 77 mm
Designer: William Evan Charles Morgan
Engraver: William Evan Charles Morgan
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.
J. Frederick Smith
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.
Bank of England Library and Literary Association
Paper size: 110 x 181 mm
Plate size: none
Design size: 96 x 66 mm
Designer: John Farleigh
Engraver: John Farleigh
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.
Brian North Lee
Paper size: 81 x 84 mm
Plate size: none
Design size: 66 x 68 mm
Designer: Reynolds Stone
Engraver: Reynolds Stone
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.
Alphonsus Montague Summers
Paper size: 96 x 75 mm
Plate size: none
Design size: 83 x 56 mm
Designer: Philip Hagreen
Engraver: Philip Hagreen
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.
Paper size: 70 x 59 mm
Plate size: none
Design size: 55 x 45 mm
Designer: Charles Sherborne
Engraver: Charles Sherborne
Notes: his bookplate was designed and engraved by Charles William Sherborn in 1890 for the artist, writer and philanthropist Dame Agnes Lowndes Jekyll née Graham (1861–1937).
John Waern Hill
Paper size: 95 x 70 mm
Plate size: none
Design size: 71 x 50 mm
Notes: This simple bookplate was designed for John Waern Hill (1926-2009). He is described on a page on the web site of the Royal Academy as a 'Book collector'. That's all I know about him. This bookplate was found in a book costing £1 on the shelves outside the Hay Cinema Bookshop in Hay on Wye. It was the only bookplate I found on a visit in October 2022 that was in a reasonably priced book. Frankly I think that Hay on Wye is where books go to die. All the best books are sold online I suspect, and the unsellable books go on the furlongs of shelves with piles of remainders.
Herbert of Caerdiff
Paper size: 143 x 107 mm
Plate size: none
Design size: 114 x 89 mm
Designer: Nevile (Rodwell) Wilkinson
Notes: This was probably designed for Sir George Sidney Herbert (1886-1942), son of Sidney Herbert, 14th Earl of Pembroke. The crest and motto are used by the Herbert family. This plate was designed by Sir Nevile Wilkinson (1869-1940), an Army Officer, Ulster King of Arms, artist and amateur bookplate designer. Nevile Wilkinson married George Herbert's sister, Beatrice Frances Gertrude Herbert in 1903, so they were brothers-in-law. George Herbert died unmarried, aged 55. A more elaborate bookplate by Wilkinson for Herbert is in the collection of the British Museum.
'Caerdiff' is an old spelling of Cardiff. The reason for the letters R and B by the dragons left and right on the plate are unknown, but could be the initials of the engraver. The last digit of the date is not clear. The name on one of the books is 'WILTON': George Herbert was a Director of the Wilton Royal Carpet Factory.
C and M Cleverly
Paper size: 91 x 59 mm
Plate size: none
Design size: 81 x 54 mm
Designer: (Charles Cleverly)
Engraver: (Charles Cleverly)
Notes: This was probably designed by the artist Charles Frederick Moore Cleverly (1852-1921) for himself and his wife Mary Isabel Cleverly neé Somers. There is no signature and it has an art nouveau look, so is probably early 20th century.
Charles Cleverly was born in Canton in China, the son of Charles St. George Cleverly, who was Surveyor General in Hong Kong. Charles worked as an architect and artist and was a Justice of the Peace in Surrey. He died in Valescure, France on 16th March 1921, while on holiday. His son, Sir Osmund Somers Cleverly, was Principal Private Secretary to both Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain.
Paper size: 146 x 88 mm
Plate size: 114 x 58
Design size: 102 x 48 mm
Designer: Jessie M. King
Engraver: Jessie M. King
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).
Paper size: 139 x 86 mm
Plate size: not known
Design size: 113 x 83 mm
Designer: Jack B. Yeats
Etcher: Jack B. Yeats
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.
Ida Emily Southerden
Paper size: 135 x 102 mm
Plate size: 114 x 84
Design size: 114 x 84 mm
Designer: M Kemp-Welch
Etcher: Margaret Kemp-Welch
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.