November 13, 2018
Posted in PHS McLean Library on October 30, 2018
By Janet Evans, Associate Director, PHS McLean Library
“What is a Bookplate?”
When a young scholar visiting the library asked me this, I realized I needed to do more public programming to reach people who love books and are curious to learn more about them. That’s when I decided to give a Rare Book Talk on this topic (see details below).
Bookplates are decorative labels stuck in the front of a book, bearing the name of the book's owner. They have been around almost since the beginning of printing in Europe. The PHS McLean Library has many examples of bookplates, from the 18th to 20th centuries. Early examples were often armorial plates, showing a family crest. Later bookplates could be small-scale designs that reflected the owner’s occupation or lifelong interests and passions. Book-loving botanists and gardeners had extensive personal libraries and found clever ways to convey their intellectual pursuits on their bookplates.
See, for example, the plate of plantswoman and book collector Mary Helen Wingate Lloyd (1868-1934). Lloyd was a talented, knowledgeable gardener whose club, The Gardeners, was a founding club of The Garden Club of America. For many years, she shared her gardening expertise through the columns she contributed to The Garden Club of America’s Bulletin. She was also an avid book collector, who built a collection of European and American imprints that reflected the history of gardening, from the 16th to 20th centuries. After her death, her family bequeathed her gardening library to PHS, in recognition of her longtime role as member and chair of PHS’s Library Committee.
Lloyd’s bookplate was designed by Dorothy Sturgis Harding, an artist who created bookplates for, among others, Eleanor Roosevelt. Filled with pleasing floral and vegetative motifs, the plate shows us Lloyd’s extensive library, with bookcases flanking a mantel and cozy fire, and a glimpse of her celebrated garden at her “Allgates” estate in Haverford, Pennsylvania.
Learn more about bookplates with botanical and horticultural associations, as well as other signs of book ownership, at the Rare Book Talk on Bookplates on Thursday, November 1 in the PHS Town Hall. Space is limited and registration is required.
Rare Book Talk: Bookplates – Worth a Closer Look
Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 3 – 4 p.m.
PHS McLean Library Town Hall
100 N. 20th Street, 1st Floor
Philadelphia PA 19103
Free; Register here.