Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates

Overview

Endlessly diverse and appealing, bookplates (also called ex libris, Latin for "from the books of") are small decorative labels to be pasted inside a book's cover to express personal ownership. Originating in their modern printed form in 16th-century Germany, where books were highly valuable and treasured, bookplates became an art form practiced by artists across Europe and beyond. This book traces the fascinating evolution of bookplate design over time and across national ...

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Overview

Endlessly diverse and appealing, bookplates (also called ex libris, Latin for "from the books of") are small decorative labels to be pasted inside a book's cover to express personal ownership. Originating in their modern printed form in 16th-century Germany, where books were highly valuable and treasured, bookplates became an art form practiced by artists across Europe and beyond. This book traces the fascinating evolution of bookplate design over time and across national boundaries, showcasing 100 key examples of ex libris art.

In the early 1500s, Albrecht Dürer and other German engravers and printmakers began to create highly decorative bookplates, often featuring armorial devices and coats of arms for wealthy individuals and institutions. As the fashion for ornamental bookplates spread, distinctive national styles evolved. Nearly every conceivable design element—from cupids to scientific instruments, portraits, and landscapes—served to decorate personal bookplates. This volume explores the various sources of ex libris inspiration, including designs by C. R. Ashbee, Walter Crane, Aubrey Beardsley, Eric Gill, and Rudyard Kipling, as seen in the books of Frederic Leighton, Calvin Coolidge, and many others. Book lovers and art enthusiasts alike will delight in this treasury of bookplate art and lore. 

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Editorial Reviews

Arts and Antiques

“An excellent book…[showing] a diverse selection of bookplates from the collection of the British Library, some of which have never been reproduced before.”—John Dorfman, Art and Antiques

— John Dorfman

NPR.org
“Exquisite…In a year when we are contemplating the future of the printed word, a collection that celebrates the physical book and its connection to the reader is a particular treat.”—NPR.org
The Paris Review

“If there’s such a thing as bookplate porn, this gorgeous book is the ultimate.”—Sadie Stein, The Paris Review

— Sadie Stein

Arts and Antiques - John Dorfman
“An excellent book…[showing] a diverse selection of bookplates from the collection of the British Library, some of which have never been reproduced before.”—John Dorfman, Art and Antiques
The Paris Review - Sadie Stein
“If there’s such a thing as bookplate porn, this gorgeous book is the ultimate.”—Sadie Stein, The Paris Review
New York Times Book Review - Steven Heller
“I reckon that the plates in this slim, richly illustrated volume may inspire another resurgence — perhaps in digital form.”—Steven Heller, The New York Times Book Review
Fine Books and Collections
“An easy gift for any booklover on your list.”—Fine Books and Collections
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300171631
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 6/21/2011
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Hopkinson, formerly Curator of Prints at the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, is an art critic and writer.

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