Bookplates, designed or elaborately to identify ownership, can usually be found stuck to the inside front cover of books. Bookplates have been in use since 1516 but only became widely popular across England, France, and Germany in the 18th century; bookplates began appearing regularly in American libraries in about 1840.
Bookplates (commonly referred to as ex-libris) are small labels placed inside books to indicate who owns it and display their names as owners, as well as designs or mottoes that relate to either its subject matter or owner interests. Usually located near the paper’s front end, bookplates provide evidence that someone owns this work of literature.
Bookplates can be seen adorning books, notebooks, portfolios, and even wine bottles – they even become collector’s items, with entire clubs dedicated to studying them and appreciating them!
Bookplates date back to the 15th century when they were employed simply as book identification labels. But by the 17th century, bookplates had evolved into intricate works of art featuring their owner’s coat of arms or other personal motifs – something many book lovers still use today to personalize their collections.
Bookplates serve several vital purposes.
- First, they allow book owners to personalize and distinguish their books quickly. This feature is precious in libraries or institutions needing to track collections.
- Second, publishers and authors can utilize bookplates as marketing tools by publishing new titles or authors while advertising special editions or events.
- Finally, bookplates may even serve as collectible items worth significant money!