Bookplates: Ex Libris

IMG_5702Digital media has it’s place, but there’s just something about a book.  Much of that something is a book’s appeal to our senses: the smell of a book, the heft of a book, the feel of the paper against the fingertips and the soft swishing sound of turning the page.  A book is more than the ideas or the story inside.

When I pick up and open a book that we read to our kids, a flood of warm memories rushes out of it.  When I take down a woodworking book from the high shelf in my shop and notice the bits of wood shavings lodged inside and my notes written in the margins, it’s a reminder of an exciting journey.

People have felt this way about books for a long time.  Beginning in the fifteenth century, book owners began commissioning bookplates to be pasted inside the covers of their treasures.  These early bookplates were most often coats of arms and highly decorative.  Albrecht Dürer created at least twenty bookplate designs.


Bookplate by Albrecht Dürer from the The Art of the Bookplate by James P. Keenan

By the mid nineteenth century, books had become widely available to the middle classes and many began commissioning bookplates that reflected their lives, character, and/or passions.  This interest continued into the twentieth century, and artists such as Eric Gill and Rockwell Kent designed many bookplates.  Ex libris is Latin for “from the books of” or “from the library of.”


Bookplates by Eric Gill from Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates by Martin Hopkinson.

In addition to custom designs for individuals, book lovers could select one of the many general designs, often with a space for the owner’s signature.


Bookplates by Rockwell Kent from Rockwell Kent: The Art of the Bookplate by Don Roberts.

Inspired by the tradition, I designed a bookplate for those of us who have a love of greenwood carving.  The heart of the design is the woodcut that I did last year and wrote about in this post.  All of the prints in that limited edition are gone, but now I have the bookplates.


I found a really nice self-adhesive paper made in Ohio in a natural cream color.  The paper, the adhesive, and the ink are all acid-free.  To go along with the image, I drew ex libris in the style of incised carved lettering.


I took the special paper, the print, and the lettering drawing to the independently-owned print shop about 1/2 mile down the road.  Their printing expert, Ben, and I sorted out all of the details, and now I have the bookplates, ready to mail.  They are 4″ x 3″.  If you don’t want to use it for a bookplate, just snip off the ex libris part.


If you’d like to purchase some, here’s how to go about it.   I want to keep the logistics on this as simple as possible, for my wife, Kristin, especially, since she’ll be handling a lot of this.

  • Bookplates are $1 each.  Minimum order 10, but beyond that you can request as many as you wish, no particular increments.
  • Pop an envelope in the mail with a check or cash.  If you send a check for $17, we’ll send you 17 bookplates.  No need for order forms or invoices.  Just make sure you include your address on the outside or within the envelope.  No need to send a return envelope; you’ll receive your bookplates in a clear protective sleeve inside a padded envelope.  Shipping is free.
  • My address is: Dave Fisher, 395 S Main St, Greenville, PA 16125
  • We will take international orders, but that involves extra fiddling and fees; add $5 per order.  For international requests, we’ll use Paypal for payment.  Email me with how many bookplates you’d like and your address, and we’ll go from there.




This entry was posted in books, Lettering, sketch, Uncategorized, woodblock prints and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Bookplates: Ex Libris

  1. Barry Gordon says:

    Admirable of you to offer this David!


  2. francedozois says:

    like this very much

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I fervently hope that these will be available for sale at Greenwood Fest…. oh, did I say that out loud…?


  4. Scott Thomas says:

    Sorry David, but you won’t have them ALL to take to Greenwood Fest. I plan to have a check in the mail tomorrow for my order. Thank you for making this option of your work available.


  5. Pingback: Bookplates: Ex Libris — David Fisher, Carving Explorations – 365posterblog. Where great images need to be seen

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