Monday 16 May 2011

Bank Libraries and Ex Libris

Unlike other countries, Canada has had relatively few major financial banks in operation throughout its history, with many mergers taking place during the early 20th century.  Therefore Canadian bank bookplates tend to be uncommon, and to date I've only seen a few examples in various collections across the country.  Below are two examples, one pictorial and the other a simple label.

The Bank of Montreal was founded in 1817 placing it among Canada's oldest financial institutions.  It later merged with the Commercial Bank of Canada in 1868, as well as several others including the Molson Bank in 1925.  It was allowed to issue its own currency until the passing of the Bank of Canada Act in 1934.

The bank maintained a library at its head office in Montreal for many years.  The bookplate at left depicts the bank's head office located at Place d'Armes in Montreal, and was designed by Canadian artist Stanley Harrod (1881-1954), a notable illustrator of many prominent bookplates during the early 20th century.

The second bookplate is much more functional - a simple label for the Royal Bank of Canada likely created sometime between 1925 and 1945.

Today, the five main banks in Canada are the Toronto Dominion Bank, the Bank of Montreal, Scotia Bank, The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and the Banque Nationale.  If anyone knows of any bookplates belonging to these other historical Canadian banks please get in touch, I'd love to hear about them!

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