Currently I have 135 in my cataloged collection (maybe more waiting in the wings of uncataloged boxes). I have found them in almost every category, so what follows are some examples showing their variety and clues for finding them.
Bookstores, of course, are good sources because they often use books on their namesake bookmarks. From De Heksenkelder Internationale Feministiese Boekhandel, there are two--one on the side for the bookstore, a miniature image of the bookmark itself, and the other featuring a different book alongside a glass of wine, for De Heksenketel Café. Antiquariaat Tweedehandsboekhandel also has a bookmark on each side, in this case of the same image of a medieval scholar gazing at his open book with a subtle bookmark. Scenes of people reading are good candidates for finding companion bookmarks.
Sometimes a cozy scene, even without a reader, can reveal a bookmark. Here are two similar scenes of a fireplace, a comfy chair, a companion to keep company (cat and dog), and groups of books, one open, the other closed with visible bookmarks. These “cosy nook” themes were popular in the 1920s-1940s.
So too were those with greetings about remembrance and friendship like this one with a blue bookmark sporting a medallion at the end. Themes of friendship based on a shared appreciation of books and reading often have books with bookmarks, similar to this one with an unusual teal marble-like background.
Besides bookstores, businesses seem less likely to use images of books, favoring instead their own products or pretty ladies. An unexpected example is from Gold Medal Flour with bookshelf, candles, open book and red bookmark. Perhaps this is a category for a challenge to find more examples.
There are plenty of other bookmark producers that regularly feature books, however. Religious publishers often depict the Bible and indeed bookmarks are popular gifts and giveaways for bible readers. This example features another cozy nook for bible study along with suggestions on passages by topic. An unexpected, rather mysterious bookmark was revealed in this metal bookmark with holographic images of praying hands, reversing to a book with bookmark.
Any number of organizations might use books, but for an especially nice example, we can look to The Bookmark Society. They produce a custom bookmark each year for members; this one for their 25th anniversary features a prominent bookmark on an illustrated book with a lovely background.
Of course, libraries use illustrations of books and they often produce instructional bookmarks to encourage their use, as in this examples from the National Library of Australia which has a subtle and humorous message. The University of California, San Diego also uses humor as well as a quiz to promote the benefits of using a bookmark, printed as noted on acid-free paper, another bonus. This charming green leather gift bookmark simply says “Don’t take me out” and its recipient seemed to heed that advice as indicated by the darkened and tattered ends with the middle in pristine condition from remaining in the book.
The bonanza bookmarks on bookmarks in my collection were created by Domenec Martinez and Col.leccio Costa in 2008 documenting the history of bookmarks. Almost every one of the series of twelve has an illustration of a bookmark from different time periods. The examples here feature rotating Medieval bookmarks (No.2) and a knob type from the 16th century (No. 8). The knob is even embossed to give it a dimensional effect. An extra bonus is that No. 8 is also an example of bookmarks in art. [Note: can anyone translate the text to English?]
I will end with two bookmarks produced by Asim Maner advertising his now defunct company, Mirage Bookmark’s lines of bookmarks. The metal bookmarks were custom produced and featured precision designs, sometimes with cut outs as in this example. The other line featured beautiful art bookmarks. When Asim heard about my specialty, he was delighted and sent me a batch of his own bookmarks on bookmarks. He also encouraged me to write about them, so after many months and good intentions, I have fulfilled my promise, and I hope you enjoy this short preview. These examples and a few others are in a special gallery. Please send any from your own collection to the IFOB editor to add.
This article titled "Marking Pages with Bits of Life" is not a new article and is another of many such articles about the things people leave in books as intentional or accidental bookmarks. We highlight it because it is about one of our members, Marilyn Scherfen. Unfortunately, her email address no longer works and we have been unable to find her. If you know her, please tell her to update her address. In any case, Marilyn's efforts to categorize and document this "bits of life" is noteworthy! Do you have stories or examples of such bookmarks?
Collection of well over 1000 bookmarks including both simple modern publishers’ advertising bookmarks and more valuable vintage items, some silk and woven (mainly from 1895 – 1940), from many countries, (United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria) in very good condition. A few can be viewed on the Mirage Bookmark site but note those that have already been sold (those not sold are included). Asim’s family is also happy for anyone interested and able to come and view the collection personally. They would like to sell the collection as a whole, rather than individual items or batches. The family is willing to receive offers for the collection, and have set the end of September as a preliminary deadline. Shipping costs and payment method will depend on the buyer's location and type of packaging needed. Contact email address: maner [at] gmx.ch with questions or to make an offer.
by Laine Farley
There are many reasons why someone may consider retiring a bookmark collection, even one that has been lovingly developed over a long period of time. As people change their circumstances, it may no longer be possible to sustain and store a collection, or perhaps the urge to collect simply wanes over time. Another common reason is that the collection is inherited from a relative and the person who becomes responsible for it does not wish to continue the collection. Here are some initial considerations for what to do with a collection. We would like to hear your thoughts and experiences as well, and eventually we will turn this into an article.
First, the decision to sell or donate it must be addressed. This course is not an all or nothing one, however. It may be reasonable to keep some parts of the collection, sell especially valuable or noteworthy items, and donate the rest. Each collection is unique as are owners’ motivations.
If you want to sell it:
- Whole collection: depending on the size, you might want to offer it to an auction site if it is large and significant enough to warrant their attention. Auction houses that deal in paper ephemera might be good candidates. Ephemera dealers are another possible source.
- Batches: Sometimes collections are broken up and sold in batches on sites like eBay or Etsy. These batches can be grouped thematically (e.g., similar material, subject matter, age). There are agents or “valets” who will handle sales for you and they take a percentage of the sales price. Again, looking for someone who knows or deals in ephemera would be a starting point.
- Individual bookmarks: If you have pieces that are especially rare or valuable, it could be worth it to offer them separately. Similarly, an agent could handle it but you might have a better sense of relative value or what you would consider the minimum acceptable price which should be made clear to an agent.
- Whatever method you choose, it is probably a good idea to have some kind of intermediary rather than trying to sell it directly. This arrangement protects both you and the buyer. The International Friends of Bookmarks (IFOB) members are an audience that would probably like to know about the collection, but IFOB is not really set up to be a site for selling.
If you want to donate it:
Some libraries specialize in collecting ephemera, and there are even a few that have bookmark collections such as the University of Iowa. If your collection has many items from a particular area (businesses, bookstores, museums, etc.), it may be possible that a local library or historical museum would be interested. People often assume that the largest libraries like New York Public or even Library of Congress (or national libraries in other countries) are the best choices, but they get so many donations that they may not be. It could be better to find a library with an interest in the type of collection, a local interest, or some other tie. If it is important to you that your collection be exhibited, a smaller library or museum is more likely to do so.
In preparing to contact institutions who might take the collection, consider the following steps:
1. How much: Count the collection or at least have an estimated number of items. The next best approach is to have a description of the extent, e.g., the number of boxes, binders or whatever they are stored in.
2. Context: Make a list of any publications or descriptions or even your own notes about the collection. Have you ever exhibited it, have articles been written about it by you or others, have you ever made a presentation about it? Anything that showcases the collection, no matter how insignificant it may seem, will be of interest to the institution.
3. About the collector: Compile a biography of the collector. Libraries and museums want to provide context for the collection and provenance or history of its development. Anything you can say about how you started the collection, how you went about adding to it, any special interests, would be good additions. If you write this up, also consider sending it to IFOB since we like to publish short articles about collectors and their collections.
4. Photos: provide a set of any images you have on a storage device (e.g., USB drive, CD, etc.) that you can give to the institution. You might also take a few photos of groups or types as another way to give a sense of the size and scope. If you have posted photos to any sort of social media site, provide access to that if possible.
5. References: Other collectors could probably look at photos or other materials and be able to say more about the quality of the collection in a letter of reference. If you have ever talked about or exhibited the collection, whoever sponsored it would be a good reference.
6. Agreement: Libraries and museums will have their own agreements for accepting donations, but you can think about the terms you want as well. Is there anything related to the collections for which you want to claim copyright (e.g., articles, images)? Do you want to impose any conditions on use of the collection in publications by others? Do you want to require that it be exhibited in a certain way or frequency? What kind of credit or recognition do you wish to receive? To what extent are you willing to negotiate any of these requests if they are not part of the standard agreement?
Libraries and museums will be more willing to consider collections that complement those they already have, but also if the collections are organized, stored in reasonably good condition, 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. Here is an example for the collection of Don Baldwin at the University of Iowa. For important collections, they will go into more detail and describe the contents of each container. Here is an example of the collection of Frank X. Roberts whose collection includes his poetry and other writings, plus some materials from his wife. 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.
Finally, there is the issue of transporting the collection, whether you choose to sell or donate it. Of course, the best option is to transport it in person to ensure that it reaches its destination without damage. If this method is not practical, at a minimum the transport should be tracked through postal or delivery services, and possibly insured. The packaging will depend on the nature of the collection, and it may be advisable to break it up into several packages. There are many other considerations for transporting it that will be specific to the situation.
Whatever you choose to do with your collection, the most important thing is meeting your own goals for how you would like to retire the collection or its components. Whether you wish to preserve it as a collection to be studied and exhibited, make it available to other collectors, benefit from the sale, or simply get rid of it in the most expeditious way possible, there is no single or “right” way to bring your collection to a close.
Please do share your experiences and thoughts about this stage of collecting.
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.
The IFOB First Year Commemorative Bookmark 2016 will be printed by and by and only to the extend of orders from our gift shop. Each bookmark carries an individual number in the order of the production and the date of printing. The bookmarks are produced by fine art print on premium textured card and are of exquisite quality (size: 205 x 80 mm).
The aim of this procedure is to create a rare and highly collectible bookmark for our members and for other collectors. This years bookmark represents the first in a series of bookmarks. Each year a new bookmark with a new design created by a new illustrator will be produced. The bookmark for 2016 has been illustrated by Asim Maner.
I hope you like the idea and many bookmark friends will consider to collect these bookmarks. The revenue from the sale of the bookmarks are thought to cover IFOB's expenses like all other items in our gift shop. The image of the bookmark below is not bad, however, it gives only an approximate impression of the real bookmark, which I think is more beautiful in reality as on the picture. As per today, 14 bookmarks have been printed. At the end of the year we'll know how many bookmarks there will be in total. A truly exciting affair for the collectors.
- Asim Maner
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.