Many Ways to Use Bookplates

The traditional use of bookplates, begun in the 15th century, is to identify the owner of a book. Bookplates, also known as ex libris, are usually decorative, with artwork that is meaningful to the book owner. Often they show the family coat of arms or some particular area of interest to the owner. Many well-known figures have used bookplates and many well-known artists have created them over the years, but they are available for anyone to use.

The Antioch Bookplate Company, in its early days, promoted the use of bookplates for ordinary folk, as people could order one of its many designs — often called universal designs — that are available to the public. No need to hire an artist to create a design specifically for you, although that is always an option. Many well-known artists, such as Lynd Ward, Rockwell Kent, and Robert Whitmore, created artwork for Antioch bookplates.

The Antioch Company closed several years ago, but Bookplate Ink continues to print their popular designs, both personalized and non-personalized. Many of our customers are individuals ordering for their home libraries, but it is noteworthy how many interesting uses people have for bookplates.

Memorial Bookplates: Many bookplates are placed in books being donated to a library or school in memory of someone, and are often books from their own collection. Sometimes, however, a collection of new books is donated in memory of a loved one, co-worker or teacher. One of our customers donates books to a nearby nature center in memory of her dear daughter, who died much too young. Another customer has requested bookplates in memory of her book club members. And many bookplates are in books given in memory of a favorite teacher or librarian.

University Libraries: Many of the bookplates we print are shipped to universities, either for their main library or a departmental library. Some of these are to designate a particular collection, or ownership by a university department. Some bookplates are sold at college bookstores, with the logo for school.

Kickstarter Campaigns: Who said bookplates aren’t part of the modern world? Bookplate Ink has printed many bookplates to be given as a reward for donating to a Kickstarter or other online campaign. These bookplates are usually signed by the author/and or illustrator who is the recipient of the funding. Many of these have been for comics and graphic novels.

Authors: Bookplates provide a convenient way for authors to reach out to fans with an autograph, when shipping a book or a signing in person aren’t possible. Author Bernard Cornwell has been using bookplates in this way for years. He has a significant fan base in Brazil and recently had his usual bookplate printed in Portuguese. Maggie Stiefvater sends bookplates with her own beautiful artwork, as shown below, to fans in the United Kingdom when she can’t go there on tour.

Gifts: Of course, one of the best uses for bookplates is as a present to your favorite reader. Grandparents and parents often order non-personalized bookplates as a stuffing stuffer at Christmas. Bookplates personalized with a name make a special gift for the holidays or a birthday. Many people are thrilled to find the same design they used as a child still available for them to give to their own children.

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Table to Table

Printing bookplates brings the surprising opportunity to learn about interesting projects, non-profit organizations, and companies around the world. We have printed bookplates for George and Barbara Bush to sign for a cookbook of their recipes, as an incentive for Kickstarter campaigns, and for politicians to sign at speaking engagements.

Claire-Insalata-Poulos-T2T-Founder1One of our most loyal and lovely customers is Claire Insalata Poulos, the founder of a wonderful organization that helps feed those in need. Claire had been ordering bookplates for years before I realized what important work her organization was doing.

Claire founded Table to Table in 1999, after volunteering at a food bank. According to tabletotable.org, “working at the food bank opened the eyes of this chef trained, marketing professional to a horrifying truth: tons of healthy, usable, fresh food was being thrown out and wasted every single day. With the help of New York City’s City Harvest, a handful of committed chef friends and a few volunteers, Table to Table started rescuing the excess fresh food from three local restaurants and a few grocery stores. The first two recipients of this free, wholesome food were two local soup kitchens. Today, its fleet of five refrigerated trucks serves over 80 hunger relief agencies throughout northern New Jersey.”MR100-Proud-tomatoes-bookplate

The food Table to Table’s trucks collect is donated by approximately 200 supermarkets, restaurants, and distributors and delivered to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, after-school programs and homes for the elderly. Corporate sponsors and chefs such as Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, Tom Colicchio, Lidia Bastianich, Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali have all helped support Table to Table’s mission.

Table to Table uses bookplates when they honor authors. The bookplates can be sent to the author for signing and transported more easily than the books themselves. Claire orders design, MR100, shown on the right. This artwork, by Provincetown, MA, artist Amy McGregor-Radin, is one of our more contemporary offerings. We alter the design by leaving off the “This book belongs to” text. This leaves plenty of space for authors to sign below the appropriately food-themed, bright artwork.

Table to Table has now served more than 122 million meals in New Jersey and is a consistently top-rated charity. Truly it is inspiring to see what one woman’s vision and the help of others could accomplish.