Our new member Gaby Dondlinger from Luxembourg is not only an avid bookmark collector, but she is also the inventor of a new type of bookmark exhibition, the so called "coffee table exhibition". She has sent us some pictures to let us see her idea of displaying her most precious bookmarks which were given her as gifts by friends and family or she brought home from foreign countries. "I keep them under the glass of my coffee table, so I can look at them every day," as she puts it.
I must say I was totally surprised by her pictures because I had never seen such a storage and display method yet though some of the collector colleagues has written various articles about how to store and display bookmarks. It will be interesting to know about the history of this table later.
"Since I was young I have been attracted by bookmarks, not as an expert collector, but rather as a random buyer and keeper of bookmarks," says Gaby about her collecting passion. "I like bookmarks from different countries which show the speciality or the character of a country, be it by the material, the symbols, or the way it is made."
Bookmarks from different countries on display in the coffee table exhibition of Gaby: Folded paper bookmarks from Japan, and an Edelweiss bookmark from Austria.
Black lace bookmark from Malta, bookmark handwoven and stitched in blue and white from Wisconsin, USA, purple felt bookmark from Lapland.
Other bookmarks from foreign countries, top and below.
by Asim Maner, January 2017
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 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.
Gangadharan from India has joined us recently and he has a lot to tell already about his bookmarks he is collecting since 2008. He has been registered by the India Book of Records with his collection of 2000 bookmarks in June 2012. Well, from a European point of view it doesn't seem to be an exciting news to have over 2000 bookmarks in one's collection today. Quite a few collectors do have several thousand bookmarks as we know. However, this may reflect a different situation in India, maybe due to a lower presence of bookmarks in this country.
The newspaper Deccan Herald has written an interesting article about Gangadharan and his 'unusual' hobby of collecting bookmarks back in 2012. We are displaying a photo of the article for our readers so that they can enjoy it.
Reading the article, once again some differences to Europe and the western world can be detected. For instance, the statement: "Traditional methods of reading are passe." and "This is an electronic world and reading is limited to old-timers." Possibly, this is showing us that electronic reading devices such as ebooks. tablets, or smart phones do enjoy a high popularity in India which are associated with being up-to-date. However, here in Europe and in North America there is no evidence that reading is losing any attractivity. On the contrary, every year more books are published and thinking of the huge and increasing number of young bloggers who write about their reading experience and book reviews, there can be no worry at all about the future of traditional reading.
“A gentleman and a scholar”—this phrase always comes to mind when I think of fellow collector Don Baldwin although he would surely disavow both terms in his eminently modest way. I first “met” Don in 2009 when he sent a comment about an article on bookmarks I had written for the “On Marking Books” column at the web site BiblioBuffet. He offered to send an example from his collection of a bookmark that was similar to those I had written about, and he also complimented me and editor Lauren Roberts for our contributions to bookmark lore. That little exchange was so typical of Don: always generous with his knowledge, his collection, and his compliments.
Christmas Elf bookmark from the collection of Don Baldwin
As readers of this website know, there are not many of us bookmark collectors, and even in the United States, I know of a dozen at most, so it was thrilling to find a fellow enthusiast. Little did I know that he was probably the most experienced collector among us, as well as one of the most ardent. His daughter, Tama Baldwin, later described him as an inveterate collector who “spent over a half a century collecting, and he collected broadly as well across many types and many centuries.” At the time, Lauren and I, and another collector in Santa Barbara, CA, Alan Irwin, began planning a virtual convention for bookmark collectors, so we asked Don if he would like to participate. His presentation was marvelous and that’s when I realized what a treasure he was for all bookmark collectors.
During the next couple of years after the virtual convention, Don found other ways to showcase his collection and share his knowledge. He was thrilled to have a display at the Iowa City Public Library in 2011. Alas, the newspaper article with photographs is no longer available although there is still a brief mention of the exhibit from the library’s site.
Don also worked on photographing and putting his collection online on Flickr as well as writing a blog. He would write to me every so often about something he noticed in one of my articles and he would always rather sheepishly say that he was still learning how to make better photographs or write more interesting articles. He was well into his 80s by then, so the fact that he was learning all of this technology was impressive, and he really did a great job in spite of his self criticism. His Flickr pages are still visible although it appears that his blog has been removed.
Bookmarks from the collection of Don Baldwin
Don’s generosity was so natural and impressive, especially in this day and age. He would often send me images of bookmarks related to my columns, and once he asked if I would like to have some articles he had collected. That offer resulted in a large envelope of hard-to-find articles from antiques and crafts publications along with some back issues to fill in the few bookmark periodicals that exist. For one column, I interviewed a young woman who was just starting to collect who mentioned she liked bookstore bookmarks, especially those from chain bookstores. Don volunteered to send her a large sample from his collection. Don took great pleasure in paying it forward to other collectors.
I didn’t hear from Don for a while and then in December, 2013, I got a message from his daughter Tama telling me that he had passed away in October of that year. She wanted to know if Lauren and I could help her find a home for his wonderful collection. Indeed, he continued collecting up until his very last days with her helping him review eBay listings while he was in the hospital. She said that Don wanted to keep the collection together and donate it to a library or museum that would be interested in displaying it. As she put it:
“The point I am making is that I am motivated in large part because he cared very dearly about the collection and wished very much for it to have a home where others might come to enjoy it. The show he had at the public library really pleased a lot of people - many of whom have no idea about the history of the bookmark as a physical object. My husband and I also attended a talk he gave on the history of the bookmark and it was nothing less than a marvel to listen to him talk - he helped people fall in love with what he loved.”
Stitched Victorian bookmarks from the collection of Don Baldwin
I had done a little research and thinking about what to do with my own collection, so we exchanged information, and I checked with several colleagues to see where there might be interest—the Smithsonian, New York Public Library, University of Virginia, San Francisco Public Library. Sometimes the largest libraries are the least likely to want this type of collection, although they are often the first ones approached on the assumption that bigger libraries will be preferable. Previously, I had tried to find any library that seemed to have a special interest in bookmarks or even other printed ephemera but had not found too many likely candidates. Then by coincidence, I met a young woman at a library conference who was an archivist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City where Don lived. I mentioned this situation to her and she immediately lit up with interest. I put her in touch with Tama, but then didn’t hear anything further. To help Tama with her pursuit, I gave her a few suggestions that might be useful to others who are thinking of donating their collections.
A group of vintage metal bookmarks with short, open page clips, collection of Don Baldwin
Libraries will be more willing to consider collections that complement those they already have, but also if the collections are organized, stored in reasonably good conditions, and documented. The cost to them is in the processing. Usually they will create a "finding aid" which is a high level description of the collection and the collector. For important collections, they will go into more detail and describe the contents of each container. They must also put the collection into acid free boxes, sleeves, or binders, another expense. It's not required but they very much appreciate donations to cover at least some of these costs.
Much to my delight, I got a message from Tama on February 20, 2016 saying that she had donated the collection to the University of Iowa’s Special Collections. She said, “They are in the process of building a state of the art museum for displays and they say they will eventually exhibit Don's collection. They really wanted everything he collected and they wanted it in exactly the state it was in when he died, right down to his notes and correspondence.” I just checked and found they have already created a rudimentary finding aid or description of the collection : Don Baldwin Bookmark Collection guide. If they process it further, they will add more detail to this description.
Fortunately, Don’s passion, hard work, and generosity, as well as his superb collection, will live on, protected by a library and maybe one day joined by other bookmark collections. To learn more about Don’s characteristics as a gentleman a scholar, see this loving tribute to his life.
I began buying and keeping bookmarks as a student at the university. Most of my friends read, so I thought it would be a sweet thing to have something to randomly give them for a friendly thoughtful gesture. My bookmarks grew in number as I became fonder and fonder of reading. I often explored the small corners of the bookstores where bookmarks usually are displayed and secretly admired the cuteness of these rectangular paper pieces. I felt weird then. Later on, I made some sense of it. I thought maybe my heightened fascination with bookmarks had something to do with my love for books and reading. Reading made me realise the utility of such a simple and inconspicuous piece of a rectangular paper – though they come now in many forms and materials.
And so the collecting began, fourteen years ago – more or less. Some years were slow, some were busy and full of exchanges. It varied. There were times when I used up my allowance and savings paying postal stamps to get my bookmarks delivered to the other side of the world. But it was worth it. I like especially paper bookmarks that showcase libraries, books, authors, artworks, artists, films, and literary events. I’m most fascinated with series, for instance a series of bookmarks featuring works of contemporary painters and puzzle paper bookmarks.
I have collected beautiful bookmarks in exchange. Bookmarks that I wouldn’t find – ever – in any of my travels. They come in envelopes with lovely stamps and simple notes. And that excitement you have when a mail for you arrives and you know it has some wonderful surprises enclosed for you.
The web is an amazing place to look for like-minded people, or should I say people having the same interests as mine. I found a very active Yahoo group of bookmark collectors. I used to participate in their monthly exchanges. I posted a collector’s ad at Mirage Bookmark website. Many of my exchange partners found me there. That experience of collecting and exchanging is just simply happiness. It can be addicting. The right kind of addiction, if you know what I mean. *laughs*
I had so many plans that concern bookmarks – putting up a club, selling in major bookstores here in Manila, writing a bookmark blog, or showing my collection on an online bookmark exhibition. But as I always say, life gets in the way, sadly, and we only have so much energy to burn for all of our plans. Some of them get realised, others don’t. But there’s no closing doors for me.
Life also has its own way to give us what our hearts desire. One day a friend of mine invited me to write a blog about collecting bookmarks fort the website bookbed which is a community platform for book sharing and storytelling. It was an excellent opportunity to come out and communicate to others about the joy this hobby brings. I am doing this job almost for a year now and my blog Bookmarked features also interviews with some of the IFOB members. Selling bookmarks and an exhibition of my collection are on their way. Crossing fingers.
And because I also love taking photos of bookmarks and other things, I can’t end this short entry without showing you some more photos of my bookmarks. Ciao, for now. More to come! Happy collecting!
Our new member Kausik Misra from India wanted to be different. This is the reason why he collects bookmarks. I wish to introduce Kausik to our members and demonstrate that he is indeed different in many ways.
What is striking about Kausik are his plans and his mission. Yes, he is a bookmark collector with a mission, and that is indeed unusual. His mission is no less than “to promote bookmark collecting in India, to have a bookmark collectors’ meeting in near future and to make it an annual event”. Wow, I can only say, respect! This is an ambitious plan, and it is much more than what can be expected from an enthusiastic collector.
Kausik has not only plans, but he also pursues his targets with actions. In 2010, he established a Bookmark Collectors’ Club and runs a Facebook page to support the idea of his club. Regarding the comments on his Facebook page submitted by people from countries all over the world, I have the impression he is promoting bookmark collecting not only in India but throughout the world. Let us listen to his own words he is using to motivate the visitors of the club page:
“Welcome 'Bookmark Collectors! Welcome to the exclusive club of bookmark collectors. It's a unique but very interesting hobby, privy to the interests of a select few. Happy Collecting!
You have met stamp collectors, coin collectors, key chain collectors, signature collectors and many other collectors but how many 'Bookmark Collectors' have you met? The answer is - Not Many.
Feel proud to be a part of this exclusive club.
I still have not managed to find a term for a bookmark collector. Bookmarks are a part of ' Ephemera.' Ephemera means collectable items that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity. I still don't know an English term to describe a 'Bookmark Collector.'
But according to French websites, the French word is signopaginophile or signetophile, with an additional word chartasignopaginophile for a collector of bookmarks made of paper.
No matter what the material, if you share the same spirit and passion for this unique hobby this is the forum to share your ideas.
One of the best means to promote an idea in a country is surely a newspaper report about the subject. And this is what Kausik managed to do: The Hindustan Times published an article about Kausik and his passion of bookmark collecting. The title: “Kausik Misra wanted to be different. He found his place in the world (and books) by collecting bookmarks“ It is an interesting article which tells the story of Kausik in some detail. Let us read it:
"I don’t like competition,” says Brunch reader Kausik Misra, 30, a marketing professional with a TV channel. “I have always had a hatred for anything that everyone was doing. So people collect stamps, coins and such but I collect bookmarks.”
Misra says he was amazed and honoured when Frank Divendal, the world record holder for the most bookmarks ever (more than 120,000 of them), found his Facebook page and wrote to him, saying he loved the page! “That was a good day,” he smiles.
He started collecting bookmarks in 2002, when he first arrived in Mumbai from his hometown, Jamshedpur, to study at St Xavier’s. One day, he bought a few bookmarks, and realised that this could be a “unique” hobby when he googled the English word for a person who collects bookmarks and didn’t find one. “According to French websites, the word is Signopaginophile,” he says.
Twelve years on, Misra doesn’t know how many bookmarks he has (he met us holding many stuffed packets). “It takes away the romance of it all, if I start counting. Then it becomes a chore.” He’s not slowing down though. He has bookmarks from countries as far away as the Netherlands, Belgium, Bhutan, Thailand, Indonesia, the UK, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Malaysia and South Africa and every place he has visited in India.
“I have travelled to many places but not everywhere, of course. My friends and family know what to get me as a gift. They often buy them at the airport!” he says with a laugh.
What’s important to him is that his bookmarks have memories attached to them. “When I went to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam last year, I didn’t buy posters of the paintings, but instead bought bookmarks. I will never forget that trip.” And in Belgium, where everyone was buying the lace umbrellas that the country is known for, he bought a lace bookmark.
Misra also loves making his own bookmarks. He has used airport baggage tags as bookmarks, even Do Not Disturb tags from hotels. Here is a fun story: To make a bookmark out of the colourful BEST bus tickets that are no longer in use, he actually travelled on the routes that used the red tickets, the blue and the green separately. “It makes for a great memory and story then. What’s the point otherwise?”
This is his only hobby, he says, but it defines him. “It’s so special because only a few people do it. I do something that no one else does. It’s on my Instagram and Twitter bios. It’s who I am.”
This is the story of Kausik in Hindustan Times, and I am amazed to see how a sincere passion can transform a person and keeps him going towards his mission. I am sure we will learn a lot from our new member Kausik and how he follows his dreams. I wish to thank him for joining and inspiring us.
I really like printed ephemera - all those old, small historical materials that were made to be used once and then thrown away such as programs, menus, and tickets. My bookmark collecting made me even more receptive and sensitive to collecting ephemera professionally especially as they helped document the various historical subjects in the libraries where I once worked.
Paper bookmarks are classified as ephemera although they are intended for repeated use. My collection contains many examples of early paper and celluloid bookmarks. Most are in the category of 'advertising' or 'die-cut' - those cut in the shape of things, and I have great examples in the collection of both types.
This entry is a repost of the original blog post by Lois Densky-Wolff on the website of
The Ephemera Society of America (ESA) from 2011.