Little Free Libraries and bookplates

Recently, we have received orders for bookplates with text indicating the book is from a “Little Free Library.” What is a Little Free Library? And who started this trend?

LIttleFreeLibrary

Little Free Library in Orlando, FL

I honestly thought this was just a good idea that various individuals were instituting. Then I came across the Little Free Library website, where it is explained that a Little Free Library is “a ‘take a book, return a book’ gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.”

According to the website, this idea started in 2009 when “Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading.” Soon, inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s support of 2,509 free public libraries and a mission to promote literacy and a sense of community, a goal was established to build 2510 Little Free Libraries, a goal which was reached in 2012.

LIttleFreeLibraryRobertaReachingBetterI was excited to see an example of just such a library nearby in Orlando, Florida, at one of my favorite restaurants. Dandelion Communitea Cafe, which hosts many events to support a sense of community. Their library, located at the front of the cafe, is a colorful and cheerful box. What a great addition to any neighborhood gathering place!

I urged you to visit the Little Free Library website to read about this fascinating and inspiring concept. Maybe you’ll want to build a library in your community!

The small world of bookplates

Bookplates, like family photos, often become part of a treasure of family memories and history. I saw this demonstrated recently when my husband and I were visiting a friend. Our friend is a musician and comes from a family of musicians. While we were visiting, he shared with us several bookplates that had belonged to his father and grandfather, both of whom are now deceased.

E31Fryxell_greenOne of his father’s bookplates, shown here, was fun to see because it is a variation of a design that we are still printing at Bookplate Ink. As you can see, this nautical design was altered to add the cat and fiddle picture that was the logo for The Catgut Acoustical Society, to which our friend’s father belonged, and printed in green. Most likely, this bookplate was printed by Antioch Bookplate Company in the 1960s.

I was excited to see another bookplate that belonged to my friend’s grandfather. This is one that has been out of print for many years but was also printed by Antioch Bookplate Company. It was a Christmas gift from our friend’s brother to his grandfather in 1962. Not only was this design used by our friend’s grandfather, but it was also the design used by another mutual friend’s grandmother, who happens to have been the mother of the man who started Bookplate Ink.Fryxell_music_text

It’s a small world in the bookplate world!

Donating books

GaborKorvinGabor Korvin has been a wonderful and supportive customer of Bookplate Ink’s for many years, during which time he has ordered several thousand bookplates. Like many bookplate customers, he is devoted to one design; in his case, design B208, or “The Bookworm.” This is an adaptation of German Romanticist painter/poet Carl Spitzweg’s famous satirical painting, which was originally published as a bookplate by the Etchcraft Company, then introduced by the Antioch Bookplate Company in the 1950s. Many people refer to it simply as “the man on the ladder.”Gabor_book

Korvin is a professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in Saudi Arabia. I wasn’t aware until last year that he is an avid collector of Oriental books and has been donating his collection to The Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, where he was presented with their Teleki Medal in 2010. Korvin has donated more than 2000 volumes to the library and continues to send them rare and important books every week.

I was thrilled to hear that librarians at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences have told Korvin that readers frequently ask “Has any new book arrived with the old man on the ladder”?

Korvin_booksI asked how he goes about obtaining these rare books. He wrote, “There are so many steps of getting a new Oriental book: it starts from months or years of search, then finding it in auction lists, bidding, winning, waiting for weeks for its arrival, picking up the parcel at the Post Office, carefully opening it, reading some pages at random, but it only becomes really mine when I put in my bookplate. It has become such an important habit with me that I never travel without taking a few dozen of them.”

 

Bookplates, schools and peacocks

cathedral

One of the joys of having an online business is having the chance to work with people from all over the world. And when there is some connection between us, it is the icing on the cake.

A few weeks ago, a customer called about having a bookplate printed for a book fair at her son’s school. Marceline explained that at the book fair, there would be a “wish list” table of books needed for the school library and teachers’ classrooms. While purchasing books for their children, parents could also purchase one of the “wish list” books to donate to the school. She further explained that she was looking for bookplates to put in the books to permanently acknowledge the parents and students for their gift to the school. While discussing possible designs, Marceline mentioned that there are peacocks on the school grounds. I suddenly realized that I had visited this school.

Last spring, my husband and I flew to New York City to visit our son. We had a wonderful time riding the subway and being tourists. One of the places we most enjoyed visiting was The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue, which it turns out, is the location of the school Marceline was calling about.

compositeAs we approached the cathedral, I was taken by the garden and Peace Fountain at the side. The Peace Fountain, a magnificent work itself, is surrounded by sculptures created by students at the school. I was astonished by the skill and effort put into these creations and spent quite a while looking at them.

peacockMy husband strolled down the lane at the side of the cathedral and came back to report seeing two peacocks wandering about. These peacocks, one of which was white, were friendly and fearless. They seemed quite used to being around people and, at least while we were there, seemed to enjoy showing off. According to an article in the NY Times, the cathedral grounds has been home to peacocks since the 1980s, when the Bronx Zoo donated some chicks. And the peacocks are named after various deans at the school and cathedral.peacockwhite

Marceline, who is the Co-President of the Parents Association at The Cathedral School, ultimately chose Bookplate Ink’s design B211 because of the animals in the elaborate border, citing the animals in the many sculptures on the church and school grounds. B211 is one of two troll designs drawn by John Huchthausen, an artist trained in architecture and religious art who created many designs for Antioch Bookplate Company in the early 1940s.

As you can see, I removed the troll from the middle of the design, added the logo for the school and the necessary text, and enlarged the design just a little. The students’ names will be handwritten on the bookplate, along with their graduating class year. The printed bookplates are now at the school and the book fair is starting. Marceline reported that everyone is pleased with the bookplates, and I am pleased to be a part of this wonderful event supporting reading and education.Bookplatecomposite

Abraham Lincoln bookplate

It seems that I’m hearing about Abraham Lincoln quite a lot these days, and it’s not even his birthday. That’s because the much anticipated movie “Lincoln,” based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals,” is now in theatres.

I found this bookplate depicting our 16th President in an old catalog of Etchcraft designs called the Celebrity Series. I like that Lincoln appears to be looking down at the space where a name would be added to the bookplate, under “Ex Libris,” which means “From the library of.” Under Lincoln’s signature, the text says “By: Saint-Gaudens.” Augustus Saint-Gaudens was an Irish-born American sculptor who was well-known for his sculptures of Civil War heroes. With a little research, I discovered that this statue, unveiled in 1887, still stands in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. According to AbrahamLincolnOnline.org, the monument was created using “the 1860 life mask of Lincoln by Chicago sculptor Leonard Volk. A Vermont farmer of approximately Lincoln’s height served as the model.”

These is also a copyright with the single name “Richard, ” apparently the creator of the bookplate design. All of the bookplates in the Celebrity Series have this same copyright and are of famous people or places.

As shown on the cover, these designs were acquired by Antioch Bookplate Company, whose designs we acquired. This catalog is most likely from the 1950s. Another detail that made me smile is that the sticker on the cover from Antioch Bookplate has as its border design M752, which we are still printing today and happens to be one of our most popular border designs.

Creative author bookplates

We have had the privilege of printing many wonderful designs with custom artwork over the years, many for well-known authors. We always protect the privacy of our customers and don’t publicize bookplates without permission. Lately, though, we’ve printed several beautiful designs to use for booksignings whose owners have been happy to share. In fact, they are all available on the authors’ websites as a giveaway. We have posted all of these on our Facebook page, but wanted our blog readers who don’t use Facebook to have access. If you do use Facebook, please consider “liking” our page so that you get updates. We will also be offering specials through the Facebook page.

Emily Giffin’s general bookplate

One of our well-known and loyal customers is Emily Giffin, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You’re With, Heart of the Matter, and her latest book, Where We Belong. We have printed bookplates for Giffin that are for her books in general, and ones that are specific to each book. She will sign bookplates upon request through her website.

Where We Belong bookplate

According to her site, Giffin has been dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” and a “dependably down-to-earth storyteller….Her five novels, all filled with her endearingly flawed characters and emotional complexity, have been translated into twenty-nine languages, with five million copies in print worldwide. In addition, three of her novels have been optioned for the big screen, and Something Borrowed has been fast-tracked for an early 2010 shoot by the production companies of Hilary Swank and Edward Burns.”

J&P Voelkel write a really interesting adventure series called Jaguar Stones, based on historical facts about Mayan culture, appropriate for young readers. Books in this series include Book One: Middleworld, Book Two: The End of the World Club, and Book Three: The River of No Return. They recently ordered their second bookplate design from us, with the Mayan theme evident in their artwork.
I found the biographical information on their website to be really interesting:

J&P Voelkel bookplate

Jon Voelkel grew up in Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia. He was not a natural-born adventurer and found life in the jungle difficult, to say the least. Having survived monkey stew, an attack by giant rats, and a plane crash in the middle of the rainforest, he escaped to college in Minneapolis and went on to business school in Barcelona. After working in advertising agencies in Spain, Holland and England, he started his own agency in London with four other partners – one of whom would be his future wife. In 2001, the London Financial Times named him one of the top fifty creative minds in Britain.

While Jon was battling the daily perils of the jungle, Pamela was growing up in a sedate seaside town in northwest England and dreaming of adventure. As soon as she graduated, she escaped to London to take any job with “writer” in the title. After stints reviewing books, writing catalogs and penning speech bubbles for photo-romances, she became an advertising copywriter and award-winning Creative Director.

In 2001, J&P moved from London to rural Vermont, and began work on ‘Middleworld’. In an interesting male/female collaboration, Jon focuses on the action scenes (much of it based on his own childhood memories and the bedtime stories he tells their three children), while Pamela enjoys thinking about the characters and deciding how they feel about things.

When they’re not writing and illustrating their books or visiting schools, the Voelkels are usually traveling in Central America, attending Maya conferences, and studying Maya glyphs.

Maryanne O’Hara’s bookplate

Writer Maryanne O’Hara’s debut novel, Cascade, has just been published, to very positive reviews, including this one by Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and Lake of Dreams: 

“I stayed up very late into the night to finish Cascade, captivated by Dez Hart, a woman torn between competing loyalties: her marriage and her freedom, her sense of responsibility and her desire to live an artist’s fiercely disciplined and passionate life. Past and place come alive in this book; these characters are richly drawn and complexly human. Compelling and fascinating, the story unfolds in such unexpected ways, and with such gathering tension, that I couldn’t stop until I’d read the final, beautifully written, line.”

According to O’Hara, her brother, Michael Bavaro, designed her bookplate to look like a postcard since this is an important element in Cascade. These were printed on a slightly heavier white paper stock, which gives it a nice feel and texture. More information is available on her website.

Meagan Spooner’s bookplate

Author Meagan Spooner’s young adult fantasy novel, Skylark, the first in a trilogy, has also just been published. Skylark has already been selected to be featured as a Young Adult Buzz Book at BEA 2012. According to New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones, “Skylark‘s rich narrative and plucky heroine will transport you into a mesmerizing and horrifying world.” Spooner also co-authored with Amie Kaufman the young adult science fiction romance These Broken Stars. Read more about her bookplates and work on her site 

Mary Engelbreit bookplates

It all started with the bookplate shown here.

Mary Engelbreit bookplate

This bookplate, with artwork by renowned illustrator Mary Engelbreit, was printed by the Antioch Company in the 1990s. As the Antioch Company has now closed, this bookplate has been out of print for many years. Recently, we received an e-mail from a potential customer asking us to print these once again. I contacted Mary Engelbreit Studios and was pleased to learn that they often receive requests for bookplates with their artwork and had just received yet another. And, thus, a wonderful new relationship was formed.

Bookplate Ink will soon offer a gallery of designs by Mary Engelbreit. Some of these will be designs previously printed by the Antioch Company, but others will be new bookplates. We will offer these in both personalized and non-personalized formats. Spark a love of reading in a child you know with a bookplate specially printed with his or her name. Or order a set with no name added for a lower priced option. Many children and adults prefer to enter their own name and, thus, personalize their bookplates themselves. As we launch this new gallery of Mary Engelbreit artwork, we will also begin to offer all of our non-personalized bookplates in smaller quantities of 20 bookplates for a truly affordable gift. Order ahead for birthdays, Christmas stocking stuffers or a special gift for grandchildren!

Please check the Bookplate Ink website and this blog for the launching of this exciting new line of bookplates.

Too many choices?

I read a marketing book recently that discussed the idea that when it comes to making a purchasing decision, too many choices can be so overwhelming that a potential customer won’t make any choice.

I found a New York Times article that discusses the same phenomenon. In “Too Many Choices: A Problem That Can Paralyze,” Alina Tugend states, “Although it has long been the common wisdom in our country that there is no such thing as too many choices, as psychologists and economists study the issue, they are concluding that an overload of options may actually paralyze people or push them into decisions that are against their own best interest.”

Tugend goes on to discuss a study in California where customers were given samples of Wilkin & Sons jam. When given a greater assortment of jams to sample, more people were enticed to try some, but less actually made a purchase. Similarly, in choosing a 401(k) retirement plan, “studies have shown that if more fund options are offered, fewer people participate. And the highest participation rates are among those employees who are automatically enrolled in their company’s 401(k)’s unless they actively choose not to.”

What does this have to do with bookplates?? Bookplate Ink offers over 150 choices of bookplate designs, more than any other company we have found. We have ships, tomatoes, a rhinoceros, fairies, owls, flowers, musical instruments, a frog, boys, girls, maps, oh! and books. Perhaps the choices are overwhelming for our customers. This is a concern.

On the other hand, there is sometimes a design that doesn’t sell very well, but is perfect for one customer. Like the mustang horse, which was a wonderful bookplate for an elementary school whose mascot is a mustang. Or the now out-of-print Kermit the Frog bookplate for that Sesame Street lover. How about the biplane design for books donated from an aviation lover’s library?

Everytime I think we should take some designs off our website, one of these orders comes in. And the truth is, we have designs in our archives that aren’t even on the website. What’s your opinion? Is more better or is less easier? Should we streamline our offerings?

Bookplate for Malawian book

Who knew that printing bookplates would be such a great way to find out about interesting projects around the world?

We recently received a second order from Richard Hewitt, a customer from the United Kingdom who teaches at the Kamuzu Academy in Malawi. Mr. Hewitt’s first order was for bookplates for his own use. This second order is for bookplates that will be placed in presentation copies of a book by Fr. Claude Boucher about a traditional Malawian dance, Gulu Wamkulu. For a fascinating explanation of this dance performed by select Chewa men, see http://www.unesco.org/culture/intangible-heritage/22afr_uk.htm.

Fr. Boucher is a Canadian missionary and White Father, a popular name for Missionaries of Africa, a Catholic religious order founded by Cardinal Lavigerie in the nineteenth century for missionary activity in Africa and the Middle East. The name “White Fathers” comes from the white habits worn by the early missionaries. Nowadays, just about all new recruits to the White Fathers are Africans themselves. Boucher came to Malawi from Quebec in 1967 and founded the Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art in 1976.

According to the Kungoni Centre website, Fr. Goucher is an initiated member of the Nyau secret society and as such “has been privileged to see and document songs, dances and information that have not previously been revealed to any non-Malawian. This rich cultural heritage is in the process of being lost as Gule Wamkulu continues to be pressured by Western values and urbanization.” Boucher’s book, When Animals Sing and Spirits Dance: Gule Wamkulu: The Great Dance of the Chewa People of Malawi, is due to be published in August, and will be the first book-length study of this traditional Malawian dance. More information will be available at http://www.kasiyamaliro.org/.

The bookplate we will be printing for the book, shown here, is Claude Boucher’s own design. It offers a literal illustration of a Chewa proverb, appropriate to thank those who have helped to fund the book. Malawian villagers support the roof of a traditional village hut by carrying it on their heads. They are helped by ancestral spirits (supernaturally elongated, pale, androgynous), who collaborate with the living in their work. God is depicted in the form of a mask with tribal scarification. Two of his aspects are suggested: Mphambe, the God of lightning; and Chiuta, the God of the rainbow, who serves to unite heaven and earth.

We are pleased to be a small part of this wonderful project supporting an important part of the Malawian culture.

Altering designs

Bookplate Ink’s website encourages people to call or write if they don’t see exactly what they want in our pages of designs. When possible, we are happy to make changes to a design to fit the needs (or even whimsy!) of a customer.

N100

Design N100

Author William Landay recently made such a request. Like many other authors, he wanted bookplates with room for him to autograph them for readers. Oftentimes, authors use one of our border designs, such as N100, shown here. This elegant yet bold border, printed on cream colored paper, leaves plenty of room for a comment and signature. We have a non-personalized version of this design, but can also print an author’s name, the title of their book, or even include a logo with our personalized version.

Landay image

Modified A124 design

But Landay requested changes to our design A124 to fit his needs. A124 is one of our designs with artwork by renowned artist Rockwell Kent, originally printed in the 1950s by the Antioch Bookplate Company. After many requests, we brought this bookplate back into print several years ago. For Landay, we made the artwork much smaller so that he would have room to sign his name and make comments. He requested “With compliments of the author” and his name be printed on the plate.

Another design that has been altered for customers is B217. Introduced by Antioch Bookplate Company in the 1960s, this design was created by Tom Eaglin, using the inspirational quote attributed to Quaker leader William Penn. We have printed this design without the “ex libris” text, which is Latin for “from the library of,” and without any text at all. With text that is vastly different from the original Penn quote, author Jeaniene Frost has used this design to create a bookplate that suits her style and books.

Jeaniene Frost version of B217

B217

Design B217