Tag Archives: ex libris

Bookplates, ex libris

[f. L. ex librs, lit. ‘out of the books’, i.e. ‘from the library’ (of the person whose name follows); mod. Lat. phrase often used in inscriptions indicating the ownership of books.] from the OED

Like many rare book libraries, RBML has loads of bookplates pasted into its volumes. Bookplates help establish provenance, and they frequently tell us something about how previous owners thought of their books. One of my favorites is Hart Crane’s ex libris, shown here in his copy of James Joyce’s Exiles (NY, 1918). Crane’s vorticist plate was pasted into many of his own books; here he’s personalized this volume a little further by adding a portrait of the author (Zurich, 1919) .

Other interesting examples in RBML‘s collections include this Charles Dickens ex libris, found laid in to our facsimile copy of The Picwick Papers in parts (Picadilly Press, 1931). The plate itself is held inside a glassine envelope, printed with provenance information from the sale of Dickens’ library.


RBML is also home to several bookplate collections, spanning from the late 16th through the 20th century. Click here to see the list.

And while we are on the topic, RBML also holds the Rockwell Kent Papers, which includes a file of drawings, sketches, and bookplates Kent designed for many well-known readers. Here’s Kent’s sketch of Alan Horace Kempner’s bookplate alongside the final version–Kempner’s rich and important book collection was donated to RBML.