Page images


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

knows, are by some common understanding characteristics to be sought. First, it must generally considered any one's property, and be dignified, as befits anything pertaining to there is a similar moral blind spot in regard books; second, it must be beautiful; and third, to books. Unless they are plainly and in- it must be individually suitable—that is, delibly marked with the owner's name, their first trip into a friend's house is likely to develop into permanent residence there. A book-plated book, at once recording ownership and witnessing the owner's love for the volume, is far more likely to return promptly to its own shelf.

It was about 1450 that printing from type was invented; and as soon as printed books became common, their owners began to have book-plates made to identify them. It is said that the ancient Assyrians, who wrote books in the shape of clay tablets,-baking them

Her Boobs stiff to make them permanent,-attached smaller name-label tablets, which correspond

Magie-caseto our book-plates. And it has been claimed

ments opening that the Japanese, long before printing was

on-the-foam-or discovered in Europe, identified their books

perilous-seas by decorative designs. But the history of the


förlora book-plate as we know it goes back only to

the fifteenth century. From
the very first,

eat artists
gave their time and genius
ture designs. At the head
of the list stand the famous

expressive of the tastes or personality of the Dürer and Holbein, while at

owner. Some successful children's plates fail the contemporary end are

in one or more of these particulars (never the such well-known artists as

second!) and yet remain to a degree successthe English Frank Brangwyn ful; but in general, these three tests are a HER

and our own Maxfield Par

rish. Although the history BOOK of book-plates for grown-up

people thus spans four cenINITIALS MAKE

turies, the child's plate seems RABBIT'S BODY

to be a thing of compara

tively recent origin.
There may be scattered

examples in the collec-
tions of antiquarians, but
in general it may be said

that children's bookHis Book plates are a development

his:book of the last twenty-five PICTORIAL PLAY ON years. In that time, how

date: ever, their use has grown

source: remarkably, until to-day no child may properly claim to be a book-lover unless his or her volumes are marked with an individual device.

There are certain distinctive features to be noted about a successful juvenile plate, cer

"A DESIGN SUGGESTING ACTION AND ADVENTURE" tain qualities that mark it as different from the "grown-up" plate. When a man or good starting-point. And by the way, it woman orders a design, there are three main would be well to stop off here for a few minutes

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]





[ocr errors][ocr errors]


to study the illustrations, things of the
with these points in mind, child's own life
before going on to read and world being
about them.

made the basis of

This Book Belongs
Of course, most of the design. Mother
differences are in the mat- Goose symbolical-

ter of the subjects chosen ly leading a child Chandler Withington HER NAME IS OLIVE to be pictured on children's into the land of DESIGNED BY GARDNER TEALL

designs. Before speaking dreams is likely to of that, however, it is well to note that be far less of a success than a goose of the the plate of a boy or girl is nearly always common barnyard variety; and a picture of smaller than those of older people. This cut- a dog or of a Noah's ark is far more in ting down of dimensions is not altogether a keeping than an angel of enlightenment. matter of feeling—that the smaller the owner, For very small children the range of subthe smaller the marker should be. On the jects is large: cats, dogs, rabbits,-indeed contrary, there is a very good argument for any sort of pet,-familiar flowers, characsmallness in the fact that it is difficult for a ters from fairy stories, semblances of beloved child to paste in a large label neatly; and by toys. These and many more of the little all means the child should be allowed to do things of a child's life may be made to yield his own pasting. Moreover, some children's pleasures of recollection at every fresh openbooks are too small to accommodate a larger ing of a book. These things, too, are decoraplate. The fact that other juvenile books tive. They lend themselves well to treatare very large suggests the wisdom of having ment as ornament, unlike the landscapes, the the design printed in two sizes. The addi- biographical data, and the library interiors tional cost is not great, as most of the ex- that grown folk choose for their designs. pense goes for the making of the original The art of the book-plate is a conventiondrawing and comparatively little for the alized art, and the child's playthings and the reproduction and printing.

child's ideas, simple in themselves, offer betThe best subjects for children's book- ter material for simple, conventional treatplates are to be found among those objects ment in design. that have grown dear to them by association. For older children, it is more difficult to Any attempt to sermonize, or to symbolize find suitable subjects. Although a favorite the great lessons of life, is almost sure to fail, pet, or a flower, or a book character may still at least from the child's standpoint. The be chosen as the principal motive, the Jackabstract should be avoided, the concrete in-the-box, the Noah's-ark tree, and the old

familiar Mother Goose characters are now nevertheless is distinctly a parent's concepout of the question. Of course, purely book- tion. In this case the boy "plays the drum" ish subjects are always safe, if handled with in a school orchestra; and the imp of Satan ingenuity-witness the two Farnham designs, beating a gong is the father's interpretation and that for Juddie Stowell, among the of such activity. illustrations.

There is another danger in failing to conAt the age from ten to fifteen years, boys sult the child about the subject of the design. and girls are unusually quick to catch and to enjoy any suggestion of cleverness in the handling of a design or in hidden meaningsso much so that this might be called the

EX - LIBRIS puzzle age. So a book-plate of the punning

ARTHUR-E•SPROUL or rebus sort will always give an unusual measure of enjoyment. The O. L. G. design, wherein the initials form the rabbit's body, and the Warren O. Church plate, which has the family name in pictorial form only, are good examples of this type. One can imagine the owners showing these designs to their child friends with real pride.

There are differences between boys' bookplates and girls' book-plates, just as there is a difference in atmosphere between a collection of men's designs and a collection of women's designs. Of course this is not always apparent, nor necessarily important. But a comparison of the Malcolm Stone and Helen Bruno plates, shown herewith, will indicate that such a difference of spirit often does exist. The boy's design here is full of spirited action and suggestive of adventure. The whole atmosphere is boyish. In the Helen Bruno plate, on the contrary, the idea and execution alike are properly girlishsuggestive, somehow, of hair-ribbons and white frocks. The designer, by the way,

HONORANTE OMNIA is Margaret Ely Webb, whose pictures need no introduction to girl and boy readers. A second plate which is distinctively boyish

DESIGNED BY SIDNEY L. SMITH is the "R. G. C.-His mark.” Surely there is nothing of the "sugar and spice and every- The grown-up attitude among many culthing nice" quality about it. Indeed it has tured people is that they want to get away that impish quality which fiction writers try from the hackneyed and familiar at any cost to make us believe is boyish rather than -a sort of "originality or bust" idea. That girlish.

they do often “bust” artistically is neither When children's book-plates fail to satisfy, here nor there. What is important is that it is usually because the artist has approached the boy or girl rightly craves the familiar his task from the grown-up point of view. thing. What if Mother Goose's varied For instance, one can hardly be made to be family have appeared on a thousand plates? lieve that the Kenneth Stone design, with its What if cats and dogs and rabbits parade on threatening schoolmaster, its bare room, and the plates of every Tom, Dick, and Harry? its glimpse of the contrasting freedom out-of- These subjects are perennially interesting, doors, would give a youthful owner any thrill and the pleasure of meeting them perennially of pleasure. It illustrates a phase of child- new, to the child. life which is always amusing to the grown- As to the inscription on a child's plate, up, but it is not a good book-plate for a child. there are several appropriate forms. Of The little Robert Gable plate, though not course, the ponderous Latin phrase "ex libris” necessarily unsatisfying for the boy-owner, ---meaning "from the books"-which appears on most grown-up designs, is out of place on Probably no design ever interests small a child's. Inscriptions taken at random children more than does that used by Rachel from a collection of young people's designs Stevens, a plate adapted by Dr. A. W. Clark are: "Rachel Stevens' Book," "John and from a cover by Walter Crane. Above is Jane Their Book," "Bidwell Children's —


Mother Goose in her nightcap, while below Library,” “This is Juddie Stowell's Book," are all the characters from the beloved Hey"Carey Children-Their Mark," and "This diddle-diddle rhyme. The cow is taking a Book Belongs to Shorty.” All are simple very realistic leap over the moon, the dish is and direct, as they should be. Occasionally leading away the spoon, and at the sides the the name is the only lettering on the design, cat fiddles and the dog looks on and laughs. as in the “Jack” plate shown herewith. The Here is the whole of the familiar story in picuse of a monogram or the initials instead of tures—and what child would not like such the full name has often been condemned, as friends on a personal marker? being insufficient for identification. But in Of clever arrangements of lettering the the case of a child, whose books would travel 0. L. G. and Olive designs are notable. within a very limited circle, if loaned at all, The little rabbit, whose back is made up of the initials alone would seem to be allowable. the initials, must be a perpetual delight to

There was a time when every book-plate the owner. It was made by Olive Lothrop must have its motto. But the simplicity of Grover. The Olive plate is by Olive Percival. latter-day designs has crowded out all un- It shows what attractive designs can be made necessary wording, and children's plates of the slightest material- if one has the cleverseldom find place for anything but the ness to do it. Another design in which the ownership legend. Such Latin mottos as arrangement is half the art of the thing is that that on the Arthur Sproul plate, “Honor ante for K. D., drawn and engraved on wood by Omnia,” no matter how commendable the the famous Gordon Craig. Seldom is the sentiment, seem somewhat out of place for character of the cat so happily portrayed as children. The "Store up!” of the Hawley

“here. Strong plate is wholesomely direct and simple, Of the many designs used as illustrations, and in this case the whole design is built one, the Arthur E. Sproul, will stand out as around the idea of the motto. This plate is entirely different from all the others. It is from the pen of Albertine Randall Wheelan, not suited for a small child, but it is such a who is well-known to readers of St. NICHOLAS. book-plate as one might appropriately use

Of the artists whose plates are shown from boyhood to old manhood. It is from among the illustrations, doubtless the most a copperplate engraving by Sidney L. Smith, successful in realizing the distinctive require- the greatest of the living American bookments of designs for children is Gardner Teall. plate artists; and the library interior and the He has placed himself in the child's view- landscape through the window are typical of point most thoroughly, and he has achieved his delicate workmanship. those simple, direct qualities that are so diffi- It is difficult to define the charm of the cult for most designers to obtain. His work little "Jack" plate, but it is certainly very is straightforward and clean-cut, and it is full attractive—one of the best by that all-around of clever conceits. Many of his plates are artist-architect, Frank Chouteau Brown. hand-colored, and these, of course, it is im- The figure of the piping fairy-boy is tenderly possible to reproduce. But the six designs appealing, and the castle in the distance is shown here are characteristically successful. suggestive. The heavy-line drawing gives an Note the decorative quality of the Chandler ornamental effect that is very pleasing. Withington, the clever arrangement of the Another plate similarly decorative in execuportraits in the G. W. and the John and Jane tion is that of Pauline Stone. This admirable plates, and the bookish yet childish atmos- little drawing was made a number of years phere of the two Farnham designs. In the ago by Violet Holden for a small girl friend. Juddie Stowell plate, one of the finest of all, But now the girl has grown up and has herthe designer gives ingenious expression to the self become an artist. Witness the Tyndall idea that books are this boy's special hobby. Savage plate, whereon she has pictured a When one looks over a collection of Mr. boy generously sharing with a bird the pleasTeall's book-plates, one regrets that the mak- ure of his reading. er is not a regular designer, but merely a A plate that seemingly has no relationship successful author who makes art work a side to books is the W. A. Brewer, Jr. ship design. issue.

But the boy for whom this was made was

[graphic][graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

such an admirer of Robert Louis Stevenson, miss the pleasure of marking their books author of “Treasure Island” and many an- with individual book-plates simply because other old favorite, that he wanted some re- they and their parents have never been in

minder of Steven- troduced to the
son on his book idea. It was in
marker; and this the hope of
ship is the frigate bringing about a
from the well- wider under-
known Stevenson standing of the
monument in pleasure and
Portsmouth profit which
Square, San Fran- come from the
It was

ownership of drawn and en- such a personal BY VIOLET HOLDEN

graved on wood label that this To be honest To be kind by Sheldon Che group of illustra

WA BREWER.Jr ney. The motto, “To be honest, to be kind,” tions was brought

BY SHELDON CHENEY is from a Stevenson creed that every boy together, and the should know.

story which accompanies it was written. May It is doubtless true that many children you, dear reader, profit thereby!

« PreviousContinue »