Tuesday 16 August 2011

Finding "A List of Canadian Bookplates" edited by Winward Prescott

Canadian summers are all about the weekend, and since we typically only get about eight of them before the colder weather returns one must take every opportunity to spend them outdoors and away from the keyboard.  Thus I apologize for this blog’s silence over the past several weeks, but without making any lengthy excuses, I had people to see and better things to do.

The Holy Grail for Canadian bookplate collectors?
One of those things was continuing my hunt for Canadian books, ex libris, and library history. I did a good deal of reading outdoors (at times with a libation in hand), and also hit just about every second hand book shop and book sale I came across in my travels.  I am very pleased to announce that those efforts hit pay dirt a couple of weeks ago.

After following down a promising lead I managed to locate and purchase a coveted original copy of Prescott’s edited List of Canadian bookplates.  Published in 1919, the production of this book was limited to an edition of only 250 copies, of which the first 25 were numbered and signed.  Though the copy I acquired sadly isn’t a numbered and signed edition, it is otherwise complete and in excellent condition with all of the bookplates still tipped in.  Previous ownership marks in the book revealed that at one time the volume was in the private library of noted 20th century American librarian and bookplate collector Louis J. Bailey.  Other notations in the margins and throughout the book include details on other plates not on the list that he must have otherwise discovered.  In many ways Bailey's own notes make this an even better copy to own.

Original copies of this book present a real treat for the bibliophile, the art collector, and the historian.  Many of the finest examples of Canadian bookplates may be found among the detailed list of known Canadian ex libris, including several that I’ve detailed in previous entries on this blog.  Here are a few photos of other various pages and their tipped in bookplates for your enjoyment.

Ex Libris for W.W. Alexander and Morley Ayearst
E.D. French's only Canadian Bookplate designed for Queen's University

Bookplate for the Toronto architect Rolph and also Sir Edmund Walker

I must admit I thought it might be years before I’d be able to secure a decent original copy of this must have volume, if at all, so needless to say I’m grateful to be adding this Holy Grail to the private reference library reasonably early in my collecting career.  I also picked up a few other books on bookplates during my travels, explorations, (and shopping), which I'll review here in subsequent blogs soon.  Watch for more updates later this week.  Cheers!

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