Editor's note: Gaby was chosen by IFOB editors as the first winner of the Asim Maner Award for promoting bookmarks based on her enthusiasm for bookmarks as evident in her profile, and also her contributions to IFOB including help with updating and editing the library, workshop and events pages and additions to the galleries on owls, bookmarks on bookmarks and care of books. She also made a generous donation to IFOB. Thanks and congratulations, Gaby!
Another early bookmark is the one I got from a Japanese penfriend in my early teens. It was a paper bookmark with a ribbon and lots of Japanese writing on it so I had no idea what it was about. The picture showed a highway or something. It was not particularly attractive but a souvenir of a long over friendship that I kept with the letters and everything else my friend sent.
Later on I received more bookmarks from foreign friends, some were bought, some hand-made. I also travelled quite a bit, and when I happened to come across a nice one, I bought it for myself. Then also traveling friends brought some from abroad to add to my “collection”, which I didn’t see as a collection myself, though I thought about the best way to display them, finding it a shame to just keep them closed away. For that purpose I even got myself a book (Karl Heinz Steinbeisser: Lesezeichen sammeln). Later on I had the idea to display them under the glass of my coffee table (as you can read and see in the blog.
Specialties that I like
From all the bookmarks I have, the ones that I treasure most are the ones that have a story to tell: of people who made them or brought them for me, of places where I have been, of things that I have seen or that I love. Here are some examples: I have a bookmark-doll folded of Origami paper which a friend with Japanese origins sent to me.
I also treasure a bookmark made of fine black lace that I got on a holiday in Malta where I saw old women do such intricate lace works. Then there’s a very special bookmark from Lapland made of thick purple felt with a plant stitched on it, it has a leather ribbon with a bead made of reindeer bone or horn.
In my collection are also a few bookmarks from Africa made of different kinds of African wood with cut-out African animals. From Nepal I have a bookmark made of hand-made Nepalese plant paper. It has a drawing of a flower on it and a folded human figure.
In Portugal I found a bookmark made of cork in the shape of a sardine. Georg Hartong, IFOB co-editor, sent me some bookmarks from the Spanish Pyrenees with dried flowers on them. I could go on like this. So in spite of keeping all bookmarks to be able to swap, I have made up my mind to actively collect the following:
In this context I would also like to thank Jeffrey Edel for the lovely wooden bookmarks that Laine sent to me as part of the Asim Maner award. I love the idea that he recycles tiddles and bits and includes them in his works.
There’s another story to tell about a French lady whom I got to know after leaving one of my baskets with bookmarks, as well as a note saying that I am a bookmark collector and would happily welcome every bookmark that someone wants to leave for me. A little later I found a postcard in the free library asking me to get in touch concerning bookmarks. I never managed to reach the person by telephone so I wrote a letter instead which I left in the library. A few weeks later it was gone but I never heard from this person. Then several months later I found another postcard, same handwriting, same request. This time the telephone number worked. It turned out that the lady never found my letter, but thanks to her perseverance we finally met and she gifted me well over 100 new bookmarks and many postcards as well (which I gave away to collector friends). Though she loves to read, she doesn’t collect bookmarks herself, but is just the type of person who picks up things and when she meets the right person she gives them away. What an idea! We have since stayed in touch, even exchanged presents, I gave her a handmade bookmark, and she gave me a handmade bookend in the shape of a cat!
I got to know Asim after I had been reading an article about bookmarks called "Fascinating Bookmarks" in the German magazine “Flow” (special edition about books). The author had interviewed Asim and there was a reference to the IFOB website which I looked up out of interest. I liked the page and though I did not call myself a collector then, I thought I could let the webmaster know that. I got an instant very friendly reply from Asim and since then we stayed in touch. I became a member of IFOB, Asim wrote a blog about my coffee-table, I helped with some requests, participated in the raffle. He really had a way of sweeping people along, without ever pushing. Anyway since then I decided to call myself a collector and (re)started to collect more actively. Even when he was on holiday he answered IFOB-related messages, and when a few days later I got to know from his daughter that he had died. I was so shocked that I stopped looking at my bookmarks and didn’t return to the IFOB website for ages. I really admired Laine when she decided to take up the job as editor, with all the incredible work it involves. Regina from Lithuania with whom I was in contact at that time, helped me to make up my mind to continue collecting and I am pleased now that I finally returned to my passion. Not only for winning the award 😉 that Laine and Georg so kindly offered to me. Thank you once again for this honour!