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.
The Journal of the Ex Libris Society regularly published a feature, “Book-Plates for Identification.” From 1892 to 1908, the journal reproduced over 600 unidentified, mostly armorial bookplates. Journal subscribers were encouraged to research and submit identifications, which were then verified and published in subsequent issues.
This volume contains a collection of the "Book-Plates for Identification" feature mentioned above. And the book itself contains a total of four bookplates in three locations: two on the front pastedown, one on the front flyleaf, and one on the rear pastedown (not shown).
These bookplates indicate that the volume was originally custom-bound by George H. Viner (1866-1955) and then later acquired by A. Bernard C. K. Keeves (circa 1913-1961), whose bookplate and book collections were subsequently acquired by the Yale Bookplate Collection.
Handwritten annotations by both Viner and Keeves provide evidence of the research interests and collecting practices of two different generations of bookplate enthusiasts.