By Georg Hartong
[Editor's note: See more examples of bookmarks from this series of swap meets in our Gallery of Bookmarks on Bookmarks]
There is no long history of bookmark swap meetings in The Netherlands. On 17th September 2005 Margreet du Pui, from Gent, Belgium, librarian at Sluiskil in the Dutch province Zeeland near the Belgium border and of course collector of bookmarks, organised the first swap meeting for collectors from The Netherlands, Belgium and France. Her library was a very suitable place and about 30 collectors were present, hoping a tradition was born. The swap meeting was continued in 2006 and 2007, when even a British collector, Joe Stephenson chairman of The Bookmark Society and editor of the TBS Newsletter, was present. But Sluiskil is situated very inconveniently in The Netherlands and the library didn't facilitate the meeting any longer, so nothing happened in 2008.
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!
By Scott Paulson, Communications & Engagement,Exhibits & Events Coordinator
UC San Diego Library
Our Geisel Library building is indeed named after Dr. Seuss, and our visitors have expectations of specialized activities that have an educational/research component and, when possible, also involve Seussian creative participation. Exhibiting unusual bookmarks, along with reference materials that relay the history of these "quitter strips” and then encouraging visitors to make their own one-of-a-kind bookmarkers (using specialized tools and carefully collected supplies) is our newest annual event, with complete credit and many thanks to the inspiration and leadership of IFOB!
For IFOB’s Third Annual International Bookmark Day, the UC San Diego Library was proud to participate! We had wanted to join IFOB in the first and second year of the event—but the third time was the charm for us. We’re late, but we’re committed!
My live radio show, Ether Tale Radio Theatre, mainly does live radio drama, but we also discuss books and support/promote book events (poetry, too). We mention World Bookmark Day briefly at the beginning and then fast forward to 29:20 when we truly talk about it for around seven minutes.
The Exhibit - Installation
Below is a picture showing an early start in installing the UC San Diego Bookstore bookmarks for our Library exhibit.
You can see here that we’re using various lucite stands, so that the bookmarks can be shown at different height levels, helping to provide interest in an otherwise flat landscape.
At one point, we do move some of the bookmarks as far forward as possible in the exhibit case, for patrons whose eye-level view might be influenced by a wheelchair.
Some visitors can’t peer over the exhibit case lid, but they may be able to view better through the side and front glass panels of the cases.
The generous blank spots on these bookmarks allow the bookstore clerks to relay personal reviews!
The Exhibit - Featured Bookmarks
In the exhibit we showed bookmarks from our Library staff’s personal collections and official bookmarks from various UC San Diego offices, including the debut of a new bookmark from our campus Sustainability Resource Center.
I visited Susie Reneau’s hidden hillside art studio for an unrelated exhibit project and asked if I could buy these original bookmarks for my personal collection (and to exhibit in our World Bookmark Day exhibit.) Susie often works in black & white, but she is otherwise very colorful and very active. She is also a well-known, semi-retired bubble artist!---but not in the dancing, vaudeville sense. Her bubble shows are a floating family-friendly delight of physics and fun.
I enjoyed showing my personal bookmark collection, some self-made, some tourist art from recent travels, and many were impromptu gifts from friends and family who know that I can always use another bookmark!
Create Your Own Bookmark
On 25 February, World Bookmark Day, we held an event where visitors could make their very own one-of-a-kind bookmark at the exhibit site.
Of special interest was a demonstration of needlepoint bookmarks that was presented throughout our two-hour event.
The floor was busy, as visitors could choose from eight different stations to visit to create their own bookmark –all featuring different supplies and tools.
Bookmarks make great event fliers---we’ll be sure to promote our annual Paper Theatre Festival through bookmarks this year!
And I think we should celebrate the upcoming 30th anniversary of our Library chimes with a bookmark to remind people that we take song requests!
By Georg Hartong
There is apparently a widespread bad habit of marking the place where the reading of a book has stopped, by making a fold in the top corner of a page: making dog-ears. In other languages the same phenomenon has a different name: in Dutch: 'ezelsoor', in German: 'Eselsohr' and in Danish: 'Aeselorer', all meaning 'donkey's ear'. In South-Africa, in the Boeren-language (familiar to Dutch), they name it 'varkore', pig's ear.
How is this called in French, Spanish, Italian and other languages? Does anybody know?
The first scan shows three German bookmarks.
The second scan a Danish and two Dutch bookmarks; on 'operatie ezelsoor': 'a book is not made of steel' and 'a book is not made of stone'; Bladwijzer means Bookmark; the remaining text: 'donkey's ears are ears that do not belong in books; even closed you keep seeing the book; donkey's ears spoil the beauty of a book; can you promise never to make donkey's ears again, Hi-a?
The third scan shows an English bookmark, a South-African one and a shaped one.
As you can see from the listing on our Events page, there are many book fairs all over the world. They provide an opportunity for readers, writers, publishers and related organizations to be immersed in books, ephemera, and even art and music. And, of course, they are great places to find free bookmarks. Here are two reports on recent book fairs in Vilnius, Lithuania and Oakland, California, USA.
It's like a cultural event where you can meet friends or people you know and meet once in a year.
As you can see, where you can buy fiction books, there are many people. Sometimes books are cheaper at the book fair, but sometimes it's just 2 euros or less. Also you can ask for writers’ autographs. Science fiction books are not so interesting, but also sometimes there are many people.
Also you can get bookmarks. This year I found about 100 new bookmarks.
In the music hall there are so many young people, who want to have photos with their idols. My idol is Andrius Mamontovas. He is one of the best musicians and has been singing more than 30 years. He is really famous in Lithuania.
8 kambarys is a group who sing rap/hip-hop. They are very nice people.
the Ephemera Society of America had a special display by a collector of Native American themed advertising ephemera. It’s possible there are some bookmarks in this detailed display. [warning: some people may find these depictions offensive, but they are artifacts of their time]
Of course, there were free bookmarks to acquire such as these from book dealers.
A curated exhibit of first edition books by L. Frank Baum and the subsequent authors of the "Wizard of Oz" series, courtesy of Joel Harris, a local member of the International Wizard of Oz Club, was complemented by a lecture from a librarian from the University of California, Berkeley, Peter Hanff. He talked about the publication of the Wizard of Oz books by L. Frank Baum, based on his extensive collection of books and printing ephemera. He also gave attendees a special keepsake postcard—but it could be used as a bookmark too!
Even if you are not a collector of rare or antiquarian books, it can be worthwhile to attend this type of book fair to see the history of books and variety of interests among dealers and collectors.
Check our Events page section on book fairs to locate one near you. Many are held on a regular basis. And let us know if there are others we should add to the list.
- By Laine Farley
Our member Gaby Dondlinger from Luxembourg has been having fun sharing Woboda bookmarks in three interesting ways. Before Christmas, she enclosed a bookmark with her holiday greeting cards--a nice surprise for her friends and family.
Gaby has a talent for making tiny books that she sells at Christmas markets. Here are some photos of her display where she also included Woboda bookmarks. Aren't her tiny books adorable? They need some tiny bookmarks!
The third place she shared bookmarks was in Little Free Libraries in her region along with signs about World Bookmark Day. She reports that a lady who is responsible for one of these places in Germany was very enthusiastic to learn about Woboda. She has been taking care that everyone who comes to get a book also gets a bookmark, and announced Woboda in the little local magazine.
Librarians and teachers devise many creative activities and incentives to encourage reading among school children—contests and prizes, charts of progress and gold stars, puppet shows, plays and parties all to make reading fun and interesting. Of course, bookmarks play a role as small prizes and mini-teachers of book etiquette. They may possess more power than we thought, as we learn from Jeffrey Edel, a semi-retired woodworker (and voracious reader).
He lives in Bryson City, North Carolina, USA, a small but beautiful town, which as he notes is “tucked up against the Tennessee border amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains.” He used to live in Jacksonville, Florida where he met his friend Karen, an elementary school librarian. She dresses up as the Book Fairy and has had success in getting young children inspired to read by using the bookmarks he makes - her magic wands! Jeffrey says she is “astoundingly creative” and also works with the Scholastic Book Fair program.
More durable for children than paper, the bookmarks Jeffrey makes are from all types of salvaged wood including oak, poplar, black walnut, cherry or whatever he has saved from his years as a woodworker. He adds bits of broken jewelry, coins, watch fobs, jewelry pieces or whatever might make them interesting and ornamental. When asked if he makes them for sale, he said, “They are meant to be encouraging gifts and if someone wanted one I would try to accommodate them if possible.”
Jeffrey would like to hear from our members — “who better than the experts” — on ideas and feedback for improving his designs. He would also like to know of other initiatives to inspire children to read using bookmarks. Please respond by making a comment below or to the webmaster and we will be sure they get to Jeffrey.
And the next time you use a bookmark, think about its magic powers!
This post begins a new feature to profile IFOB members. We learn more about Debrah who was last year's runner up for the Woboda raffle. Thank you, Debrah for sharing your bookmark stories. If you would like to be "interviewed" for a profile, please contact the IFOB editor. We are interested in all of our members!
Tell us about yourself – where you are from, your occupation, etc.
I was born in 1955 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and from the age of 7 lived and revelled in Sydney's Northern Beaches, living mainly in beachside Warriewood, until age 19 when I departed for my first adventure overseas to the UK, Europe and the Middle East, including living and working for 6 months on a kibbutz near Tel Aviv. My subsequent overseas travel has been overland through many countries of Asia, two subsequent trips to India, and most recently, two trips to the west coast of the USA, both inspired by SoulCollage® of which I am a Trained Facilitator. I have also travelled extensively in my homeland of Australia and I have lived in four Australian states (New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia) and the Australian Capital Territory, for varying periods of time. I currently live in the beautiful Camden Haven area on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales.
I have an undergraduate honours degree in Information Science (B. App. Sci. Info.) from the University of Technology, Sydney (1990) followed by a 17-year management career in information services and libraries, in both the private and public sectors.
Sixteen years ago, after intensive training and practice I became an accredited Yoga Teacher and taught yoga for many years, sometimes solely and sometimes while also working another job.
I am now retired from full-time mainstream work and yoga teaching, but I continue to facilitate SoulCollage from time-to-time through SoulLight Collage and spend, my now more available time, on my various hobbies and projects, including family history.
How did you start collecting bookmarks? Do you remember your first bookmark?
I have been a keen collector of bookmarks from about the 1970s - at first serendipitously or by accident, and then more intentionally! One day I simply realised I had amassed numerous bookmarks, especially ones from bookstores, art galleries and museums and that I wanted to treat them with the respect they deserved! So, I started to focus more on them and to better manage and preserve them. I then started to intentionally look out for and collect bookmarks to add to my collection. I also started to research bookmark collecting and the history of bookmarks. This led me to some wonderful websites, especially the Mirage Bookmark website and its links and ultimately to connections with bookmark collectors all over the world.
Do you have any favorite types or special emphasis in your collection?
I enjoy collecting all bookmark genres, but my favourite genre is bookshop (bookstore) bookmarks, that is, bookmarks promoting bookshops, the ones they give you for free with your purchase(s) or even for just being a browser in their shop. I also enjoy collecting Book Depository (the online bookseller) bookmarks and have managed to complete a couple of sets and almost complete others. I also love bookmarks from libraries, art galleries and museums. In regard to format, I prefer collecting paper/cardboard bookmarks, but I do have some plastic, metal, wooden, leather and cloth bookmarks in my collection.
Here are a few of my most favourite bookshop bookmarks from my collection:
How do you acquire your bookmarks?
The bookmarks in my collection are (1) ones I have freely and personally gathered from bookshops, libraries, museums and other places and events in Australia and overseas; (2) ones I have discovered left in some of the used books I have purchased; (3) ones I have found left abandoned in libraries and library books I have borrowed; (4) ones I have chanced upon in a variety of weird, wacky and wonderful places; (5) commercial ones that I have purchased from bookshops and elsewhere; and (6) ones I have received through swaps with other bookmark collectors around the world. More recently, some of my bookmarks have been gifted to me from family and friends here in Australia and overseas. Certainly, I find that many of my bookmarks, especially those I have personally collected, are enduring and treasured mementos of favourite bookshops, books, places, people and events in my life. My other bookmarks, the ones that have been donated to me or swapped with me, have been sources of learning as they have initiated my research into where they are from or what they are about. (Yes, I am a bit of an information / research junkie)!
What has been your experience in using the IFOB Swap List?
Totally positive! It is a wonderful service! I have thoroughly enjoyed swapping bookmarks with fellow collectors from all over the world. I also get contacted by people for swaps via my Mark My Place website, but it is also great to be listed on the IFOB Swap List.
What do you enjoy about IFOB? Anything you would like to see IFOB do in the future?
I enjoy everything about it! The community of collectors, the information on the website and its links to more information, the articles, the Swap List, the aim to increase public awareness of bookmarks, and World Bookmark Day! IFOB is already doing a lot of great things and I hope it continues to exist into the future.
Do you have any plans to celebrate World Bookmark Day next time?
Most definitely! I will be participating in the events offered by IFOB, including the bookmark raffle. I also plan on mounting a Bookmark Collecting / World Bookmark Day display at my local public library and giving a free public talk on bookmark collecting at the same venue. It is a large and busy public library and I am sure it will generate some interest. I will be talking with the library manager and am hopeful of gaining her support and permission for this to go ahead.
Do you collect anything else?
I have been an avid reader since childhood and an enthusiastic book collector since my early teens. Collecting books and bookmarks goes hand-in-hand really! Now I have thousands of both! In addition, I collect other book ephemera such as bookshop business cards and postcards. I am also interested in bookplates and bookends, but I only collect those virtually on Pinterest!
Outside of book, bookmarks and other book related items, I collect postage stamps on women that fit with my project theme of “ I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR! Women’s Suffrage, Women’s Rights, Equality and Liberation: A Postal Herstory to 2015”. This is a huge project which I have been doing since the mid 1980s and am hoping to bring to culmination in the next couple of years. My plan is to eventually donate the several large stamp albums to a relevant women’s organisation and to share the whole project with the world via a website which I will create.
Anything else you would like to share?
To me, bookmarks, in addition to their function of marking the place one is up to in a book, are small works of art and beauty or whimsy and many of them share inspirational, important and educational messages in a compact, effective and meaningful way. Part of me loves, enjoys and relishes this hobby of bookmark collecting and part of me thinks it is dorky, nerdy and a bit of a waste of time! The first part wins out though, by far! Like all people who have the collection bug, whatever it is they may collect, there is no point trying to rationalise, explain or justify it. I have decided to just enjoy it and to share some (but not all) of my bookmarks with interested people via my Mark My Place website and blog.
I also collect (pin) bookmarks of all kinds on Pinterest. As of August 2018, I have almost 16,000 bookmarks, of all kinds, pinned on my board and nearly 3,000 followers, many of whom have re-pinned my pins. There are clearly lots of bookmark fans out there!
Finally, I can’t end this profile without sharing the front and back images of two favourite Aussie (Australian) publisher bookmarks from my collection.
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.