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.

Interested in joining The Bookplate Society? The annual subscription of £40 (UK) or £52 (rest of world) is good value. Click on these links here for an information leaflet, for details of membership benefits and for an online application form.

Our recent members auction took place in November 2023. It was more than double the size of our typical sale and featured ex-libris by Stephen Gooden, including some rare royal bookplates, also fine proofs by American engraver WF Hopson, etchings by GW Eve, mid-20thC bookplates by GT Friend, and a host of other illustrators and engravers.
In the listing of unsold items (click on Auction 99 tab, above left) there remains a good choice of interesting material for immediate purchase (non-members can now buy also).

Our book for 2014/15 was mailed to members in mid-March 2017. Entitled Strawberry Leaves it illustrates the bookplates of many British non-royal dukes and records their family histories. Royal dukes were covered in British Royal Bookplates by Brian North Lee, published in 1992, but we obtained the back stock and issued a copy to every member in June 2013.
Our members book for 2011/12 was on the bookplates of Miss C Helard (see image below right). She was the wife of Arthur Fox-Davies, the great heraldic authority. Standard copies of these and other books can be ordered from the Society (see Publications page). One or two copies of the special edition of the Helard book, with original bookplates tipped-in, remain available. In the pipeline for issue to members in the second half of 2018 (funded by subscriptions for the three years 2016 to 2018) is a 400-page book on bookplates of alumni of St John's College, Cambridge, written by John Titford FSA.

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, or in a choice of several other formats. 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 .


Auction 99 (click on the button at left above) closed on 25 November 2023 but there are good items still available in the unsold lots (find the listing on Auction 99 page).

Click on the FISAE 2020 button (above left) to read about cancellation of the August congress and the procedure for refunds. This also takes you to the 2020 Competition page, giving the report of the Jury and an online exhibition slideshow of the prizewinning and other designs.

Our Spring 2018 journal (click on cover image above) was mailed with the March 2019 newsletter on 22 March 2019.
Our next publication will be the Autumn 2018 journal, currently in preparation. We apologise for the very long delay, and hence of subsequent issues.

All back issues of The Bookplate Journal now feature on a separate webpage, with images of their covers and details of all their contents. Searching this webpage is a quick way to locate articles in back issues.

A webpage has been created, recording bookplates sought by members and others. See Desiderata on the Members Area page.

A project has been launched, requesting the contribution of images of circulating library labels, with the intention of eventual publication as a miscellany of such items, together with booksellers labels. However, there is no link from these webpages because this is work in progress - we do not wish incomplete information and poor, low resolution images to be stolen by internet search engives and image libraries. Please contact our Membership Secretary if you wish to know more about, or participate in, this project.

It is worth mentioning that there exists a vibrant market in bookplates on eBay but be aware that descriptions of exlibris may not always be accurate, especially as regards dating of bookplates, their condition and the attribution of ownership.

Spring 2018 journal. Click on image for more detail.

Strawberry Leaves. By Colin Lattimore, this is  the Society's members' book for 2014-2015. Copies now available, also in hard boards.

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 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).

© The Bookplate Society 2005-2022