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Book Plates

Bookplates, or "ex libris," have been in existence since the 16th century. Bookplates are used to mark the ownership of a book. Many famous people had their books marked with a bookplate. Bookplates have been created in woodcuts, engraved metal, silkscreen, etching, or ink, and many fine examples were designed by master artists and engravers such as Durer, Chagall, and Escher.

Family crests and mottoes were popular motifs until bookplates became more personalized. Some of the most unique bookplates were created for well-known figures including Ernest Hemingway, Benito Mussolini, Albert Einstein, and Adolf Hitler. A bookplate belonging to silent film actor Charlie Chaplin shows an innocent-looking boy on a journey with a dog, resembling "The Fool" of the major arcana in a tarot card deck, while one of Mussolini’s bookplates features an eerie scene of the head of an axe cutting through rope.

Collectors of bookplates may be rare, but they are intent on their purpose. They often use a bookplate much like a trading card. The bookplate collector may choose to pursue a particular theme, and will trade with other collectors to add to his stock. Occasionally, the lucky collector may find a bookplate in a volume or hidden away on a shelf at a rare book dealer's shop.


Quick Facts

  • A 1921 Michel Fingesten ex libris sold for $1,635 at Ketterer Kunst in 2009
  • A 1927 album of bookplates by Dora Carrington sold for $3,277 at a Christie’s auction in 2015
  • The 21-volume bookplate collection of the late Arthur W. Dorling containing a total of some 6,000 plates sold for $15,228 at Bonhams in 2012

Recommended Items at Auction

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UNUSUAL ANGLO-SAXON BOOK PLATE
Dec 02, 10:00 AM CST
UNUSUAL ANGLO-SAXON BOOK PLATE
by Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $50- $200
$302 Bids
Spix. Animalia nova sive species novae lacertarum.
Nov 29, 12:00 PM EST
Spix. Animalia nova sive species novae lacertarum.
by Quinn's Auction Galleries
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
Flora - Besler - "Aloe" (Aloe Vera).
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CET
Flora - Besler - "Aloe" (Aloe Vera).
by Zisska & Lacher
Est: €0- €280
€1401 Bid
An important collection of Ex-libris, early 20th century
Dec 05, 7:00 PM IST
An important collection of Ex-libris, early 20th century
by Dynasty
Est: $0- $0
$2001 Bid
Rare 19thc German Costume Plates, 15thc Knights
Dec 03, 2:00 PM EST
Rare 19thc German Costume Plates, 15thc Knights
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $75- $150
$350 Bids
Rare 19thc Costume Plates, Jewish Nobelmen, Royalty
Dec 03, 2:00 PM EST
Rare 19thc Costume Plates, Jewish Nobelmen, Royalty
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $75- $150
$350 Bids
Rare 19thc German Costume Plates, Black Forest, Baden
Dec 03, 2:00 PM EST
Rare 19thc German Costume Plates, Black Forest, Baden
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $75- $150
$350 Bids
Rare 19thc Costume Plates, Late 18thc Women's Dresses
Dec 03, 2:00 PM EST
Rare 19thc Costume Plates, Late 18thc Women's Dresses
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $75- $150
$350 Bids
Rare 19thc German Handcolored Costume Plates, Byzantines
Dec 03, 2:00 PM EST
Rare 19thc German Handcolored Costume Plates, Byzantines
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $75- $150
$350 Bids
Rare 19thc German Handcolored Costume Plates, Nuns
Dec 03, 2:00 PM EST
Rare 19thc German Handcolored Costume Plates, Nuns
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $75- $150
$350 Bids
Rare 19thc Costume Plates, 12th Century Knights, Noblemen
Dec 03, 2:00 PM EST
Rare 19thc Costume Plates, 12th Century Knights, Noblemen
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $75- $150
$350 Bids
KUNISADA I. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Two Osaka courtesans. Triptych.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA I. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Two Osaka courtesans. Triptych.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €1,200- €1,500
€6000 Bids
KUNISADA. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. A story of justice and vice in Naniwa. Triptych.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. A story of justice and vice in Naniwa. Triptych.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €1,200- €1,500
€6000 Bids
KUNISADA. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Tsubone Iwafuji and the servant Ohatsu. Diptych.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Tsubone Iwafuji and the servant Ohatsu. Diptych.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €1,200- €1,500
€6000 Bids
KUNISADA I. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. A samurai on horseback. Triptych.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA I. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. A samurai on horseback. Triptych.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €1,200- €1,500
€6000 Bids
KUNISADA I. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Shinzo Tsurifune Kidan #1. Diptych.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA I. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Shinzo Tsurifune Kidan #1. Diptych.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €1,200- €1,500
€6000 Bids
KUNISADA I. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. The Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant. Triptych.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA I. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. The Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant. Triptych.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €1,200- €1,500
€6000 Bids
KUNISADA. Genji, the Shining Prince. Oban yoko-e. Third chapter.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA. Genji, the Shining Prince. Oban yoko-e. Third chapter.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €600- €800
€4000 Bids
KUNISADA. Genji, the Shining Prince. Oban yoko-e. 43th chapter.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA. Genji, the Shining Prince. Oban yoko-e. 43th chapter.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €600- €800
€4000 Bids
KUNISADA. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Quarrel between lady Okaru and Yokogawa Banzaemon.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
KUNISADA. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Quarrel between lady Okaru and Yokogawa Banzaemon.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €600- €800
€4000 Bids
Botany. BONNET. Recherches sur l'usage des feuilles dans les plantes.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
Botany. BONNET. Recherches sur l'usage des feuilles dans les plantes.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €600- €700
€3500 Bids
TOYOKUNI. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Sumo Wrestler.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
TOYOKUNI. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Sumo Wrestler.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €700- €800
€4000 Bids
TOYOKUNI. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Samurai holding a criying baby.
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
TOYOKUNI. Yakusha-e. Kabuki Theater scene. Samurai holding a criying baby.
by Bado e Mart
Est: €700- €800
€4000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Book Plates


Connoisseur Online

Connoisseur Online

Bado e Mart

Bado e Mart

Zisska & Lacher

Zisska & Lacher

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen