Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bookplates and Provenance II: late 19th-early 20th centuries

Since I am giving a talk next Wednesday at the Center (Reading Room at 4pm on 11/10) on "Bindings and Bookplates" from the collection, I have focused this post on some of the materials I plan to discuss. During the talk I will demonstrate the historical styles and materials used in bookbinding with items from the collection, some of which I will pass around. I also plan on showing digital images of bookplates and labels from the collection representative of different styles and subjects. What follows are several bookplates from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. 

Nineteenth-Century Circular Style (1897)
Charles I, King of England, Reliquae sacrae Carolinae, or The works of that great monarch and glorious martyr King 
Charles I 
Hague [i.e. London] : Printed by Samuell Browne [i.e. by William DuGard for Francis Eglesfield], 1651.
[16], 276, [6], 268, 10, 149-324 p., [2] leaves of plates (1 folded) :  ill., port. : ;  18 cm. (8vo).
Renaissance Center copy 1 is in contemporary calf (rebacked; front inner hinge cracked); armorial bookplate of Alan Stepney-Gulston (printed in red, with printed date "1897" and place "Y Derwydd"; an additional portrait, of Charles II at age 19, is bound facing p. 231 of the Eikon basilike. 

Demonstrating the typical nineteenth-century "circular style," this bookplate belonged to Alan Stepney-Gulston of Derwydd estate, Carmarthenshire, Wales. Ownership of Derwydd estate has been traced back to 1500, but it is in the eighteenth century when the Stepney-Gulston family (arising from marriages to Sir Thomas Stepney of of Llanelli and Joseph Gulston) anchored its identity there. It seems the estate was in its heyday during the eighteenth century, went into a slow decline thereafter, and was eventually sold in 1998. Nonetheless, Derwydd's nineteenth-century residents had tried to restore the estate to its former splendor. Alan Stepney-Gulston (1844-1919), an avid collector of artifacts and sometime president of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society, refurbished Derwydd and filled it with curious antiquities. Alan was also an accomplished poet, painter, and photographer. The Stepney-Gulston motto—"crescit sub pondere virtus"—commonly translates to "virtue thrives under oppression."

Bookplate as book: Vienna, 1916
Hugo Grotius, De jure belli ac pacis libri tres. Amstelodami : Sumptibus Abrahami à Someren, MDCLXXXIX [1689].
[14], XXXIV, 904, [16], 32, [108] p. :  ill., port. ;  21 cm. (8vo).  
Renaissance Center copy is in contemporary sprinkled calf (hinges partly cracked); bookplate of Oscar Ladner (dated in the plate 1916) on front pastedown

This bookplate adopts the form of an actual book, the title page bearing the typical ex libris information and an "imprint" noting where and when it was produced (Vienna, 1916). The plate belonged to Oscar Leopold Ladner,  an Austrian Jew of Bohemian descent who owned a factory in Vienna. With his wife Alice (depicted in the bookplate's "frontispiece"), he had a son Gerhart, who would become an accomplished twentieth-century art historian and produce important work on papal portraiture. In Vienna, the Ladners were acquaintances of Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna.

The Lotos Club plate

Thomas De Laune, Tropologia, or, A Key to open scripture metaphors
London : Printed by John Richardson, and John Darby, for Enoch Prosser, at the Rose and Crown in Swithins Alley, at the East-End of the Royal Exchange in Cornhill, MDCLXXXI [1681].
[20], 207, [9], 14 p., 15-16 leaves, 17-328, 76, [12] p. ;  32 cm.   
Renaissance Center is in 19th-century full brown morocco with brown and blue morocco doublures; bookplate of Georgie Briar Slater on verso of front free endpaper; bookplate of the Lotos Club, New York, on front flyleaf; a signature at the top of A2r, dated 1755, with a strip of paper mounted over it, appears to read "John Gweilnap". 
Renaissance Center copy bound with: Benjamin Keach. TroposchÄ“malogia. London : Printed by John Darby, for the author, 1682. 

"In the afternoon they came into a land / in which it seemed always afternoon." The quote is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Lotos Eaters" and serves as the motto for the New York City based "Lotos Club" (1870-present). It is one of the United States' oldest literary clubs and was apparently founded as a place to host and impress visitors from abroad. According to its constitution as cited on the club's website, “the objectives of this institution shall be to promote and develop literature, art, sculpture, music, architecture, journalism, drama, science, education and the learned professions, and to that end to encourage authors, artists, sculptors, architects, journalists, educators, scientists and members of the musical, dramatic, and learned professions in their work, and for these purposes to provide a place of assembly for them and other persons interested in and sympathetic to them, and their objectives, effort and work.” The design of the bookplate itself was clearly influenced by Egyptian art and the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau movement.

Harold Chapin's plate, with harlequin
Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso. In Venetia : Presso i Sessa, MDCIX [1609].
365 (i.e. 265), [5] leaves :  ill. ;  17 cm. (8vo).   
Renaissance Center copy is in contemporary (?) vellum (title page mutilated, removing most of date; date and description of 2L7,8 from Agnelli & Ravegnani); ms. "C.W. Heckethorn" on front; bookplate of Harold Chapin on front free endpaper (with the designer’s initials "S.L.R.") and his signature on front pastedown.

Harold Chapin (1886-1915) was an English stage actor and playwright who worked in London for the majority of his career. His plays were produced in the West End theaters as well as in New York City. He wrote several one-act plays and is best known for his three-act "The New Morality." Tragically Chapin was killed in action during World War I in the service of Britain's Royal Army Medical Corps. His "pictorial style" bookplate features a harlequin, one of the comic descendants of the zanni characters from commedia dell'arte and a fitting image for an actor. Chapin's four-act "Marriage of Columbine" features the typical theatrical trio of Columbine, Pierrot, and Harlequin. 

Ex Libris of Frederick Keel
William Hone, Ancient Mysteries Described: especially the English Miracle Plays 
London : Printed for William Hone, 45, Ludgate Hill, by J. M’Creery, Tooks Court, 1823.   
[2], x, [11]-298, [2] p., [4] leaves of plates (1 folded) :  ill. (1 col.) ;  22 cm.    
Renaissance Center copy is in a binding with a modern calf spine and earlier marbled boards and leather corners (lacks final advertisement leaf); bookplate of Frederick Keel on front pastedown, with his note on front free endpaper: "given to me from grandfather Compton’s library 1909. F.K." 

The German-American baritone singer Frederick James Keel (1874-1954) had a keen interest in the songs and ballads of early modern England. In 1909 he edited Elizabethan Love-Songs (London: Boosey and Company), which he dedicated to his wife. Keel also edited collections of folk songs and wrote his own ballads, including several with nautical themes. His pictorial bookplate exhibits influences of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century Art Nouveau movement. The pastoral scene represented on the plate depicts two young lovers listening to a harper within a picturesque landscape. As in the Chapin bookplate above, artist-book owners often used the iconography of the bookplate to symbolize their chosen artistic vocations. 


  1. With your permission, I would like to mention your upcoming talk in my blog on Sunday No. 7th
    Lew Jaffe

  2. Sure, no problem Lew, and thanks for mentioning my talk.