Online Exhibits@Yale


[Ex-Libris Society membership receipt]

[Ex-Libris Society membership receipt], 1907, 9.5 x 16.2 cm. Collection of Bookplates Donated by the Brooklyn Museum (BKP 33)

Particularly in the late 19th and early 20th century, the exchange value of bookplates began to supplement and even supersede their use value. Bookplates shifted from primarily utilitarian objects to independent works of art prized for their graphic variety and ease of collectability. Of course, giving away that which is a mark of personal possession remains one of the curiosities of bookplate collecting. With no intention of affixing them to books, individuals began to commission bookplates solely as a means to collect, organize, exhibit, and exchange them as works of art.


Membership in one or more of the many bookplate societies that sprang up around the turn of the 20th century facilitated these activities. Mrs. Anne H. Bowring of London paid £1.1s for her membership dues to the Ex Libris Society of London in 1907.