Overview of the Collection
Arrangement of Materials:
Scope and Contents
Overview of the Collection
Collection Title: Barbara Abele Bookplate Collection
Bulk Dates: 1970-1998
Physical Description: 6.50 linear ft
Language of Materials:
Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
Bookplates, labels indicating ownership pasted inside the front cover of a book, probably originated in Germany in the mid-15th
century. The earliest dated bookplate still in existence was created in 1516, and is also German. In North America the earliest
known bookplate, dated 1674, was found in colonial New England, while the earliest example created by an American engraver
dates from 1749.
Many themes and motifs can be identified in bookplate creation throughout history. Pictorial bookplates include portraits,
images of books, views of libraries, and various landscapes. Early armorial bookplates in 16th-century England consisted of
a simple unornamented shield, symmetrically mantled helmet, crest, and scroll where the owner's name was usually inscribed.
Allegorical bookplates were popular in France during the reign of Louis XV and in England by the mid-18th century. Personifications
of the Christian cardinal virtues and other abstract ideas, such as truth, justice, wisdom, hope, and faith usually appeared
on bookplates from this period, as well as symbols of the interests and occupations of the book's owner, such as the scales
of justice, and naval and military trophies. Toward the end of the 19th century, German designers began to use nude figures
as a major motif in bookplate design. This fashion was followed in the rest of Europe and the United States, where figures
were treated naturalistically, sometimes with erotic intent.
A variety of methods can be used to make bookplates. As in the past, the majority of bookplates created today are printed.
The plates used for making printed labels may be prepared by any photomechanical processes, such as zinc etching. For finer
plates the design may be engraved by hand on steel or etched into copper.
Barbara Abele was a long-time collector and researcher of bookplates. She was the niece of Fridolf Johnson, author of the
A Treasury of Bookplates from the Renaissance to the Present, still considered the best modern introduction to the study of bookplates, and spent her life in Redlands and La Jolla, California.
She died on April 8, 1998 in La Jolla. She was a member of the American Society of Bookplates Collectors and Designers (ASBCD),
and her collection is comprised of thousands of bookplates, sometimes considered miniature pieces of graphic art.
Bookplates are sought by collectors and studied by scholars for the insights they provide into past cultures and societies.
Abele’s bookplate collection illustrates the wide scope of past cultures and societies, the communication networks created
between individuals who shared an interest in collecting and preserving them, and Abele’s own personal love of nature.
Also contained in the collection are some records of the ASBCD, formed in June of 1922, of which Abele was a member. Charter
members included artists Sara B. Hill, Frederick C. Blank,
Elisha Brown Bird, Arthur H. Noll and collectors Rachael M. Hunt and Carlyle S. Baer. The organization’s goal is to further
the study and collecting of bookplates. It also serves as a communication network for the entire community of people interested
in the history, collection, and preservation of bookplates.
This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers -- Archives
Genre/Form of Material:
Abele, Barbara, d. 1998 -- Archives
Bookplates -- Collectors and collecting
Bookplates -- History
Bookplates -- Specimens
Conditions Governing Use:
The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with
the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections
is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Requests for permission to publish must be
submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission
is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission
of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available
for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including
but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.
Conditions Governing Access:
This collection is open for research.
Identification of item, folder title, box number, Barbara Abele Bookplate Collection, Special Collections and University Archives,
Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.
Arrangement of Materials:
I. Bookplates by Subject, A-Z
II. Bookplates by Designer, A-Z
III. Collector Files, A-Z
V. Subject Files
VI. American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers (ASBCD)
VII. Published Materials
1.) Bookplates in the News
2.) Other Publications
Scope and Contents
Barbara Abele Bookplate Collection documents the historical development of bookplates, bookplate designers, and collectors, as well as the communication networks
they used when interacting with each other. The collection dates from 1915 to 1998 with the bulk of documents created or collected
between 1970 and 1998. It consists of six main series:
Bookplates by Subject,
Bookplates by Designer,
the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers (ASBCD), and
Published Materials. The
Published Materials series includes two subseries: an incomplete run of the newsletter Bookplates in the News, and other miscellaneous published
works, all relating to bookplate collecting and designing.
Bookplates by Subject and
Bookplates by Designer series consists of files of bookplates arranged alphabetically by subject, and designer’s last name, filed from A-Z.
Collector Files are composed of information about different bookplate collectors, and include some correspondence press releases, and news
Correspondence series consists of correspondence both with individuals and institutions written by Barbara Abele from the 1970s-1990s primarily
about sharing and building her collection of bookplates. It is arranged alphabetically by correspondent or general subject.
Subject Files consist of a few photographs and files generated during research for public presentations made by Abele, and about bookplate
collecting. They are filed alphabetically by subject.
American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers (ASBCD) consists of membership directories dating from 1966, 1977-83, and 1992, and yearbooks dating throughout the 20th century,
filed chronologically by year of publication.
Published Materials series is comprised of two subseries:
Bookplates in the News and
Other Publications. The collection does not contain a complete run of Bookplates in the News, but does include issues from July 1970 to April
1998. They are filed chronologically. The second subseries, Other Publications, includes a collection of published works drawn
upon by Barbara Abele when performing research about bookplates and when networking with other collectors and designers. They
are filed alphabetically by author, and inventoried in the Container List below.