by Matt Gilbert (reposted from richlyevocative.net)
During a recent spot of tidying at home, I came across a box containing my childhood collection of bookmarks.
When I was growing up my parents were second-hand booksellers in Bristol. One exciting perk, or by-product of this for me as a kid, was finding all kinds of bookmarks that previous readers had left behind in many of the books Mum and Dad bought, which I was allowed to keep. Very occasionally you’d also find paper money hidden within the pages of books too, but this I wasn’t allowed to keep.
Sifting through some of the bookmarks, it was interesting to note a few themes or threads.
Judging by the numbers produced (many more than shown here) Insurance companies appear to have been big on bookmarks.
The likes of Scottish Widows, Royal Exchange and Northern Assurance once appeared to commission a lot of commercial artists to illustrate their own branded bookmarks. I suppose it makes sense for an industry that spends much of its time reminding people to renew or change policies to print these reminders on objects devoted to the very purpose of remembering.
I particularly like the Northern Assurance series of city and townscape panoramas – including London and Aldeburgh in Suffolk.
Animals and scenes and subjects from nature also feature on many of the bookmarks – I seem to have had a thing for birds – the box contained quite a few bookmarks with illustrations of real birds along with various others – including Puffin of course – used to promote books and reading.
Some of the most interesting and funny bookmarks I’d collected are old public service messages and adverts, with their now almost comically stilted sounding phrasing and matter of fact declarations of quality, or finger wagging warnings and informative notices.
Amongst the ads, pens, cigars and cigarettes figure prominently – I’d guess that this is because their shape is perfect for reproduction on a bookmark.
My favourite is a bookmark extolling the virtues of bus travel: TAKE IT EASY. TAKE A BUS. Clearly produced in an age before Mrs. Thatcher made her infamous (albeit possibly apocryphal) declaration that: “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.” – although the illustration on the bus bookmark shows a rather self-satisfied looking woman, (looking not unlike Margaret Thatcher funnily enough), who’s delighted to have nabbed herself one of the cool seats upstairs at the back.
There are also a few here with an esoteric theme – this was my Dad’s specialist area so there are some bookmarks featuring the likes of Madame Blavatsky, promoting Occult bookshops or histories of The Rosicrucians.
Naturally many bookmarks feature writers and poets, alongside the bookshops that sold their work. I was sad to note that all of the Bristol based ones I found now no longer exist. I can remember what an incredible, eye-widening treasure house George’s Children’s department used to be. This is described on their bookmark as having “the largest stock of books in the West for children of all ages”. Take that Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and South Wales.
I hope you enjoy taking a look at some of these as much as I once enjoyed collecting them.
by Melia Miller
Unlike regular bookmarks, book weights (also called weighted bookmarks) keep your place while you are reading. They are particularly helpful when you are consulting a book but need your hands free. For instance, book weights are used by knitters and crocheters to keep pattern books open while creating, by students to hold textbooks open while doing homework, by professors to keep reference materials accessible when they prepare a lecture or an article, and by casual readers who like to enjoy a book while having a bite to eat. Book weights can also be used by people who find that holding a book open is physically difficult.
There are several types of book weights available on the market. The conventional mass-produced book weight is leather with some type of metal weights in the interior. There are also rubber and metal book weights in various solid colors. Handmade book weights typically consist of a sewn tube of fabric, which is then filled with sand, beans, rice, or some other loose material.
Other book weights made by me..
Having been a literature major in a former life, I know the awkwardness of trying to keep multiple books open at once, even resorting to layering them to hold pages open. I needed book weights, ones that were slim and portable but also ethical and functional without clinging to the pages, which could result in tearing. After a few years of researching, calculating, testing, and even a batch of book weights weighted with glass tiles; I finally came up with my current design, which consists of two pieces of steel encased in two layers of fabric. As far as I know, I’m the only one who makes book weights out of solid metal weights and fabric. The beauty of fabric is that, with so many options, it can reflect the personality of the reader. I love textiles and books, so it’s a joy to work with so many wonderful fabrics and to pair them up with an assortment of books for photos.
I run a business with the title Dragon in Knots (dragoninknots.com), which is a one human, one hamster micro business based in New Mexico (southwestern United States). Everything we sell is made by me (I've tried putting the hamster to work, but it's hard to crochet without opposable thumbs). We (and by we, I mean me - the hamster wasn't born yet) have been in business for over 10 years. Our product range includes citrus coasters, market bags, scarves, gloves (both fingered and fingerless), wrist cuffs, and fabric & steel book weights. If you wish to learn more about the inspiration behind Dragon in Knots, you can read my article Textiles Tell Tales. Book lovers among you may wish to have a look at my blog to read book reviews and poetry in translation.
by Regina Mačiulytė
We are glad to hear Regina Mačiulytė’s story about her bookmark collection. Regina wrote to me not long ago and asked to exchange bookmarks. She sent some from her country but also some made from her photographs which were very beautiful and interesting. Making photographs into bookmarks is a good way to exchange with others and show interesting sites from your location that would not be available otherwise. Regina has a good eye for photography! Let’s hear more about how she got started.
- Laine Farley, August 2016
THE STORY OF MY BOOKMARK COLLECTION
I want to share the story of my bookmark collection with my collector colleagues from the IFOB and elsewhere. I started collecting bookmarks 3-4 years ago. I thought that I could collect them and it could be like my hobby and passion. Though I am collecting bookmarks for a few years only, there are some older bookmarks in my bookmarks box. My oldest bookmarks date from 2004 and they are handmade by a colleague of my mother who produced them as a paper collage. At that time, this lady was sick and wanted to do something that made her feel good. She thought that those bookmarks would make nice gifts for herself and for other people she knew.
At that time, as I received those bookmarks from the colleague of my mother I was very happy and I had the first time the idea of collecting bookmarks. However, it took several years before I really started to collect bookmarks. My father helped me very much with my hobby as he was traveling a lot. He would always come back home from another country with some bookmarks for me.
I also collect postcards from other places by sending and receiving postcards to other collectors. Some of these postcard collectors who I even don't know personally don't use or collect bookmarks, and as they heard that I collect also bookmarks they helped me by giving or sending me bookmarks as a gift. Also family members, friends and other people who knew that I collect bookmarks kept giving me bookmarks which they collected for me from different places.
At the beginning I thought that I am the only person who collects bookmarks. Later, I found out that I was not alone as a bookmark collector, moreover that there were many other people who also like to collect bookmarks as I do. That gave me the opportunity to swap bookmarks with collectors from other countries and to enlarge my collection.
I also like to make bookmarks by myself. I love photography and my father suggested that I could make possibly nice bookmarks with my photos. So I started producing bookmarks in cooperation with a publisher in 2015. Now, if I am about to take a picture I always think if this would make a nice bookmark.
Getting more and more a serious bookmark collector and producer, I started to visit book fairs. In Vilnius, the capital of my country Lithuania, every February there is a very good book fair where I can collect bookmarks for free, and some publishers even allow to take not one or two bookmarks only, but many. Thus I come back home from the book fair often with 60-80 new bookmarks for my collection. Many of them are doubles to be used for swapping with my bookmark friends in many different countries. This year, I visited also the book fair in Riga, Latvia our neighbour country, in February and could collect bookmarks there as well.
In my collection, the biggest number of bookmarks are from Lithuania. Second country is Poland, where my father goes visiting every year. I have about 2800 bookmarks from 51 countries at the moment. It's amazing how fast my collection grows. Almost every day, I can add new bookmarks to my collection with a little help of my collector and swap colleagues. It's a very pleasant and fulfilling experience to make friends over the country borders with people who I even do not know in person.
In November 2015 I made a very first exhibition of my bookmark collection in Panevezys, Lithuania. This year I had two exhibitions in my city Siauliai, Lithuania. Maybe next week there will be a third exhibition in the botanical gardens of the Siauliai University. A fourth exhibition is planned in the school I have attended earlier. My exhibitions awoke the interest of some local newspapers and they wrote about me and my passion – collecting bookmarks.