by Laine Farley
A special interest in my bookmark collection is for those that serve the dual purpose of greeting cards. As the greeting card industry developed, it was natural for similar themes and designs to be used for bookmarks. By far, the most common occasion was Christmas bookmarks, often with a calendar for the new year included, with Easter and Valentine bookmarks following not far behind. Halloween bookmarks, however, are rare. Their scarcity reflects the relatively short period when Halloween greeting cards were produced. The book The Romance of Greeting Cards, edited by edited by James D. Chamberlain, University Press of Cambridge, 1956, devotes a very short chapter to Halloween cards, noting on p. 109:
Hallowe’en cards came into being in 1908 at the beginning of the new era in cards and they sold fairly well until the thirties when the sending of cards for the occasion went into a decline from which it has never fully recovered.
From the beginning, the card designs were built around ghosts, witches, black cats, scarecrows, jack-o-lanterns, bats, and wishes for good luck and safety from all harm were the common verse themes. Bright yellow was the dominant color, with black, emblematical of the night and artistically effective, too, as its traveling companion and complement.
Examples of the first cards are few. The earliest Hallowe’en greeting the author has traced was a yellow paper card with a solid black background on which appeared the faint outline of a black cat and white-faced witch and the following doggerel rhyme:
The earliest ones in my collection are undated but probably from the 1920s-1930s based on the design.
Recently, I acquired a set of reproductions with graphics that appear to be from the same time period. These examples are small and a bit fuzzy, but one has a verse as follows:
When the Owl & Witch
to gather are seen,
There’s mischief brewing
Although more recent examples typically do not have verses or greetings, they do carry lively (or deadly?) graphics for the season. Some publishers feature Halloween related titles or images as well.
The back of this bookmark has a place for children (or even adults) to record their Halloween activities, thereby increasing the chance that the bookmark will be saved.
Of course, nowadays it is easy to find Halloween bookmarks. They feature the usual themes of witches, ghosts, skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, cats, bats and scarecrows, as well as literary and movie themes. It is possible to find those with vintage graphics, and even a few with actual greetings, although they mostly just have a wish for a Happy Halloween.
Besides ready-made designs, there are also printables including those that can be colored, and examples such as this one for making foldable corners.
Anyone can make clever bookmarks with some stiff colored paper (or even old file folders) adorned with stamps and stickers, as these from an office party with the theme “Spooky Books” illustrate.
Sending Halloween bookmarks as greeting cards is a practice that will probably not be resurrected. They still can be used for trick or treaters, parties, and decorations (one suggestion was to put them in potted plants). However they are used, they will continue to appeal to collectors who like to reflect the range of holidays and celebrations from this time of year.
By Laine Farley
Although there are many articles that catalog the random objects people use for bookmarks, these items are not always similar to “official” bookmarks in size, shape, or appropriate material. Accidental bookmarks are those that were not meant to be used for that purpose, but do fit the criteria and may be hiding in plain sight. Of course, this begs the question, “What is a bookmark?” It must be of a reasonable size to fit in books, but that can range from small ones for paperbacks up to very large ones for bibles, oversized art books, etc. It should be longer than it is wide, but the the proportions can vary. And it ought to be suitably thin so as not to bend the pages or risk falling out. I think accidental bookmarks should also have a design that takes advantage of the dimensions, either the horizontal or vertical plane, and they should not be of a material that could damage a book, unlike some of the official ones that sacrifice utility for design impact.
Here are some examples of accidental bookmarks that I have found, usually without consciously looking for them. While I was focused on some other task, the proportions and designs of these images suddenly resolved into looking like a good bookmark.
Ads in Publications
These examples can be downloaded, clipped, or even photographed from online images and printed on photographic or stiff paper.
I use city directories frequently for genealogy and local history research. These now obsolete publications are filled with long and narrow ads, designed to fit above and alongside of the directory entries. Most of them are nondescript, with only the name of the business, an address and phone number. Occasionally, they will contain an interesting graphic, which can be clipped from the online image and printed on stiff paper for a bookmark. This example is for a small chain of pharmacies that used to be known for their owl logo.
Similarly, old newspaper ads can often have the right dimensions and feature interesting graphics. These examples from my local newspaper feature a clothing shop that I was researching because of its Art Deco building, and I came cross another ad for fall frocks and hats with nice graphics. The Halloween example is an ornament that accompanied a feature for children. The last example is from a small town newspaper where my relatives lived, and is interesting due to the period graphics as well as the family association. I keep hoping to find an interesting ad for the business that my family owned in this town, but so far, they are just ordinary ads.
Yearbooks and Catalogs
These publications may have ads or ornaments, although they are not as reliable for finding appropriate dimensions. The example for Oakland features two transportation designs that would be interesting for a double sided bookmark. The cap and gown motif is from my grandmother’s college yearbook.
Recent postage stamp sheets for artists provided an extra benefit. The perforations on the sheets made it possible to tear off the portrait of the artist or an enlarged artwork on the side panel. These bookmarks would be even more interesting if the post office had printed additional information on the reverse. This presentation may not be common, but it is a reminder to look closely for bookmark possibilities in any kind of graphic material.
Now I am always on the lookout for interesting graphics in bookmark shapes. Where have you found accidental bookmarks?
Editor's Note: Vilija has been a great contributor and supporter of IFOB and now we can see why. Her creativity and love of bookmarks is evident in these examples and her story about making bookmarks.
And since I really like handicrafts, I am learning new technologies. The bookmarks are also very diverse: painted on fabric, from gift ribbons, metal, with natural dried flowers, with silk tassels and pendants. Beaded pendants, holiday shells, burnt glass pendants or clay molded with fragrant oils. (After all, the very first scripture is about scents, when the scent plant was wrapped in a piece of material for fear of forgetting important events).
But no matter how sophisticated they may be, they all carry out the same mission - giving the work being read even more charm, helping us to remember where we read and returning to the story being read, and increasingly bookmarks are becoming works of art.
Telšių r. Lithuania
by Ana Matos
Hi, I’m Ana from Portugal and currently producing custom and handmade bookmarks under the name CraftsforYou.
Before talking about the work that I do and the types of bookmarks that I create, I want to share a little bit about my experience with books. Last Christmas I had a flashback about those times when buying a book was rare and receiving one was amazing. I had a lot of books in my school backpack but few, for leisure times, on my shelf. Back then having a book was so precious that I used to read the same book more than once during summer vacations. Later, in university, I had a lot of technical books to study asap and still no money (as a typical broke student) to buy and add books to my library, or should I say shelf. Fortunately, between friends, we would trade books which was a good solution and a way of increasing the sense of responsibility for shared things. I treated the books with care and tried to read them fast to give them back. But with my own (few) books I didn’t use such exemplary treatment. I used to underline the text and bend the corners of the pages – no bookmarks in my vocabulary! I feel so ashamed! Last week I was picking some books to give away for charity and again revisited my horrible crimes. Underlining was a bad habit I got from school, to facilitate studying and concentration.
Things are different now. I have books all around me, use bookmarks (paper and my own handmade) and have never bought so many books as before. They are still expensive in Portugal, at least for us, but now there’s more competition and so more good deals. Despite all you can see that books are special to me but the start of creating bookmarks didn’t arise from that - it was not at all premeditated.
In the end of 2015, before Christmas, I decided to reproduce some simple bracelets I saw on Etsy, so I bought materials but encountered so many cute charms that I ended up buying more than needed. The bracelets didn’t attract much attention, although now and then people still order. One day my other half was thinking about a present for a cousin and asked if I could do something with my materials. The person in question liked books, so why not a bookmark? Later I searched on Google to see if there was something that seemed like our ideas and there it was: bookmarks in cord, leather, etc.. So I made one and a few days later selected charms, and other stuff I had, and made a bunch of bookmarks. I posted on Facebook with friends and they bought as Christmas gifts. I really enjoyed the results and people buying more than one item to give. Like I usually say, money shouldn’t be a reason for not giving a present to someone. That was not the case because they were affordable, and still are (LOL), and above all I was spreading my handmade items, and so my dedication/energy. That is a lovely feeling, believe me. Am I forgiven for my crimes now that I do cosy bookmarks?
After Christmas time I started to have requests to make custom bookmarks. A client showed me book covers and asked me to do specific pieces. So that’s how it all continued.
In the last year I have been producing three types of bookmarks: custom with faux suede cord, zen and cork bookmarks. Along with these materials I use charms, pendants, stones and crystals, things I pick from mother nature, and sometimes things customers send me to re-use or because it has a special value to them.
Custom bookmarks usually are made in faux suede cord so it can match the colours of the book cover.
Zen bookmarks are the ones where I incorporate crystals, stones and charms related to zen, spiritual and healing vibes. For this type of book marker there’s also a partnership with an online store that sells stones and crystals – Prenda Natural. They choose these last parts and the rest is pretty much up to me. We have created a unique style and for now they are selling these pieces exclusively.
The last type I'm assembling are the bookmarks made in cork. Portugal is a leading country in exporting cork, so how come I did not have this idea before? These [bookmarks] don’t need to match the book cover colours. People just have to choose the combination of charms they prefer or ask for a specific one. I hope cork bookmarks one day become a vintage item, like some old and exclusive bookmarks IFOB members have been sharing.
There’s a world out there of people like me creating bookmarks or even doing for themselves, because there’s no limits when it comes to imagination and materials to use. And who ever likes books likes to accessorize them to enrich the entire experience of reading. Because picking a book, contemplating the cover, smelling the paper and diving in the story is a sensory experience I don’t intend to switch entirely to ebooks. Besides, how could I use my bookmarks in this case?!
Bookmarkly yours ;)
My website: http://crafts-for-you.site123.me