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Bookplates, also known as ex-libris, have since the 15th century been placed in books to declare ownership. Many artists, some famous such as William Hogarth, Aubrey Beardsley and John Piper, have designed bookplates, and many significant people (e.g. Samuel Pepys and Rudyard Kipling) have used them, but a personal bookplate has been available to anyone owning a library and wishing to place in the books a printed design as a mark of possession.

Founded in 1972, The Bookplate Society is the direct des-cendant of the world's first such organisation, the Ex Libris Society, 1891-1908, and its creation and successor, the Bookplate Exchange Club. So in 2012 we celebrated the Society's 40th anniversary. Our purpose is to encourage the production, use, collecting, and study of bookplates. We achieve this through our publications, members' auctions, visits to collections, social events, talks, and exhibitions.

Librarians, booksellers and collectors who already have a copy of Dr Ilse O'Dell's 2003 book Deutsche und Osterreichische Exlibris 1500-1599: Im Department of Prints and Drawings im Britischen Museum will be glad to know that the Society has had the German introduction translated into English, thus making the book accessible to those who do not read German. It forms a major part of the Society's Autumn 2013 issue of The Bookplate Journal.Furthermore, this lengthy article is illustrated with images of exlibris to which reference is made in the introduction, and wherever possible at actual size. See our News and Events page for more details, and information on how to order copies. As mentioned on the News and Events page, our most recent journal of Autumn 2013 was mailed by our printer on 27 November 2013 but there have been postal delays and we are checking one by one with every subscriber that this journal has been received.

The News and Events page of this website has details of our book issued to members in June 2013: British Royal Bookplates by Brian North Lee, first published in 1992. We previously published, and issued to members for 2011/12, was on the bookplates of Miss C Helard (see image to right). She was the wife of Arthur Fox-Davies, the great heraldic authority. Copies of both books can be ordered by non-members. One or two copies of the special edition of the Helard book, with original bookplates tipped-in, remain available. Our book for 2013/14 is currently in preparation - entitled Strawberry Leaves it will cover the bookplates of British non-royal dukes and their libraries.

Library staff in Toronto have earned our warmest thanks by converting into digital form the Catalogue of the Franks Collection of British and American Bookplates in the British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings. Rather than paying out £400 or more for ever-scarcer copies of this important reference work, you can now find it online. Each of the three volumes can be downloaded free of charge, without copyright restriction, in PDF format, which is partly searchable. Alternatively, you may flip through the pages online (but not downloadable). The links to the three volumes are:
VOL.2 H-R and
VOL.3 S-W, Bookplates of Institutions, and Heraldic Index .


Given the shared history of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, the Society views its role as extending to both countries, and we are very pleased that for its June meeting the Society is for the first time visiting Dublin. We shall examine the bookplate collections in the National Library of Ireland and there will be an sdditional members auction, entirely devoted to Irish bookplates. See the News and Events page for more details of our events. The auction list for 14 June 2014 can now be found on the Members Area page, together with images of all the lots. This listing forms part of the Spring 2014 newsletter which, together with our Spring 2014 journal, is being mailed by our printer in the week commencing 5 May 2014.

The March 2009 issue of The Bookplate Journal is of interest to non-members because it reprints the Studio Winter Number 1898/99 on Modern Book-Plates, with particular attention to Art Nouveau items. The Autumn 2012 journal carried an extensive article by Colin White on the bookplates of Scottish illustrator Jessie M. King.

It is worth mentioning that there exists a vibrant market in bookplates on eBay.

Some Irish Bookplates - see News and Events page for details of the talks on 12 June 2014

This fine book by Brian Lee is our members book for 2013. Copies are available for non-members.

The Bookplates of Miss C Helard, wife of heraldic authority Arthur Fox-Davies. By Colin Lattimore, this is  the Society's members' book for 2011-2012. Copies are available.

One of Jessie M. King's bookplates in our Autumn 2012 issue of The Bookplate Journal. Copies are available.
In memoriam: This website was realised thanks to a
grant from the fund generously established to the memory
of our former member, Darlene J Butler (1939-89).

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