Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Book Review: "Ex Libris"

Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates (Yale University Press, 2011) presents a selection of 100 pictorial bookplates (some never before published) from the collections of the British Museum. Edited by Martin Hopkinson, the former Curator of Prints at the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Art Gallery, the book is a fine example of excellent design: each of the bookplates (or bookplate designs) is reproduced beautifully and accompanied by a short contextual caption covering the artist, owner, style and symbolism of the plate.

If I had to lodge an objection it would be with the coverage: all but six of the hundred bookplates are from the period 1875-1930, and almost all are English. Given the British Museum's extensive collections I'm sure there are some wonderful things from outside that narrow chronological and geographic range that might have made the cut. As Hopkinson notes, though, it's a small book and doesn't attempt comprehensiveness; given the limitations, he's chosen an impressive and varied selection.

Overall, a lovely book, highlighting some great bookplate designs and artists.

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