Bookplates are small labels, marks of ownership which people like to paste into their books.The phrase 'ex libris' which some like to include means 'from among the books of' so the label says 'This book belongs to me'. Wood engraving is a particularly suitable medium for these small, compact designs.
I've engraved well over a hundred bookplates over the years. The great majority are personal to the individual for whom they were made. The delight of doing bookplates is in trying to sum up in the design something of the person's character and interests, and sometimes one person's love for another. Bookplates are often special occasion gifts; and in that case the challenge is to put into visual form the feelings as well as the ideas which the clients are full of but are not able to articulate visually for themselves.
This 2003 bookplate is for a couple who met at Oxford. This is their college and indeed the very step on which they met. The martlet is a heraldic allusion. Mrs. Rutherford does embroidery.
Barry (now Sir Barry ) Jackson is a surgeon with a passion for Wagner. Here, Parsifal heals the wound of Amfortas, bearing on his shield the emblems of St. Thomas's Hospital and the Royal College of Surgeons, of which Mr Jackson would become President. The shape beneath the name is a fleam, the device of the Company of Barber-Surgeons to which Sir Barry also belongs. (1990)
Nadeem el Issa is a bookseller, Joppa Books deals in Middle Eastern subjects. The design shows the old city of Joppa and alludes to the many religious and cultural traditions that once flourished in harmony there. Mr el Issa lives in Surrey with his wife and his cat, Fluffy, who is also seen here. (2004)
Mr. Dudley's Watch (1987). Nicholas Dudley, another surgeon, collected clocks and watches. His specialism was operating on very small babies. His profession is reflected in the decoration of the escapement of this watch, adapted from one in his collection.
Liesel Schwab was a distinguished collector of graphic art. Her design combines the European tradition (Kathe Kollwitz) with that of her adopted country (Thomas Bewick). (1990)
Please don't hesitate to contact me, without any obligation, to ask about the process and price of commissioning a bookplate for yourself or another.