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.
To kick off the IFOB blog, we wish to start a new thread of blog posts with the above title. We hope you will share your story about how you decided to collect bookmarks. What was it about that first bookmark that led you to want more? What have you developed as your special areas of interest? Which other experiences have you had with your collection and with people you encountered while collecting? These questions and any other ones you can think of could be answered in a personal blog post of yours to be published here.
Feel free to submit your story at any time by creating a blog entry. The editors will review it briefly and then it will be posted for our members to read. Don’t be shy! We are eager to hear your story.