Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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A label, usually printed or engraved, frequently with a distinctive design, identifying the owner of a book, and usually pasted or tipped to the inside of the upper cover. Bookplates may be simple to the point of giving only the name of the library or other owner (sometimes with the expression "ex libris" included), or very elaborately designed, frequently with heraldic emblems or insignia.

The use of the bookplate can he dated back to at least as early as 1516, but in England, France, and Germany they did not become popular until the 18th century. There was a tremendous revival in their use and study in the 1890s, and again since about 1965. During both periods collectors have formed societies, produced journals and publications, and actually commissioned many bookplates for their own sake, that is, not necessarily intended for use in books, but rather for exchange with other collectors.

Over the years many eminent engravers have designed bookplates, and among the examples still extant are a great number which were executed with considerable skill. Because of the relative scarcity of engravers in America before 1800, bookplates were rare before that time; however, since about 1840, they have been fairly common in this country.

Their use in libraries is quite common today, but in some institutions, largely for reasons of economy, the bookplate has been replaced by a rubber stamp. (69 , 200 )

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