Bookplates, or ex libris, are labels with a printed design intended to show ownership, usually pasted inside the front cover
of a book. Sizes of bookplates vary from folio to very small. They are printed on white or colored paper, vellum, or leather.
Bookplates are produced by various means such as woodcut, wood engraving, line engraving, etching, lithography, and modern
The custom originated in Germany around the 15th century by Albrecht Duhrer. Many different types of bookplates exist. The
early ones represented armorial types that consisted of a simple shield. In the 17th century, bookplates contained more elaboration
of cartouche like shields, encircled by wreaths, festoons, and ribbons. In the 18th century, the appearance of carved work
emerged surrounding the shield. Overall, countries varied in their designs. In Germany, designs tended to be purely simple,
while in France they were more decorative. France was also famous for allegorical bookplates during the mid-18th century.
In the late 1700’s, there was a return to a simpler, semi classical motif. Pictorial plates had also been used from comparatively
early times. Toward the end of the 19th century, German designers began to include nude figures as a major motif of bookplate
design. This fashion was followed in Europe and the United States as bookplates began to be adopted all over the world. In
general, bookplates signify a reflection of history; emulating the influence of the eras in art, furniture, and architecture.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.