Friday 16 September 2011

Bookplate of a Real Estate Magnate - William Ernest Bolton

Designed by Stanley Harrod c.1920

I was recently offered this bookplate by a fellow collector, and having grown up in Montreal, my interest was piqued.  Who was William Ernest Bolton?  A little digging led me to discover the biography of what was very likely Canada’s Victorian and Edwardian-era “Donald Trump”.  Though I’ve yet to complete my research for my catalogue, I thought I’d share with you what I have learned thus far.

William Ernest Bolton (b.1873-d.?) was born in Montreal, Quebec, on 2 April 1873, the son of Richard Bolton and Elizabeth Alinchin.  His education was acquired in the schools of his native city, after which he entered the real estate business and became a broker.

A sharp and shrew businessman, he quickly expanded his own real estate interests while becoming involved with many important property transfers and developments in and around Montreal at the turn of the century.  Between the 1890s and the outbreak of the First World War (1914), Bolton acquired a controlling interest in some of the leading real-estate companies of Montreal, including the directorship of the Montreal Loan & Mortgage Company; the presidency of the Birmingham-Montreal Realty Company, Limited; and the directorships of the Midland Investment Company, Limited; the Richelieu Realty Company, Limited; the Renforth Realty Company, Limited; and the Riviera Realty Company, Limited.

While he avoided all calls to join politics and public office before the war, Bolton was a known Conservative supporter, and socially, he held memberships at some of the city’s finest clubs, including the Montreal Club, the Beaconsfield Golf Club, the Winter Club, the Montreal Country Club and the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association.  In 1905, he married Miss Catherine Hamilton McClure at Plainfield, New Jersey, and they later become the parents of two sons, Richard and Hamilton.
Masson Collection Bookplate

It is therefore little surprise that a man like Bolton would have a private library and a bookplate commissioned to identify his holdings.  The bookplates shown here were designed by Canadian artist Stanley Harrod around 1920.  Harrod employed a modern interpretation of a classic ex libris design, featuring Bolton’s coat of arms wthin a decorative arts border.  The bookplate is a brown and buff copperplate engraving, and may have had more than one printing as the specimen in the Masson Collection at McGill University looks slightly different to mine.

One thing that has me wondering is the motto.  Unfortunately it’s partially blocked so I can’t make out the entire thing.  Anyone know or have an opinion on what it might translate into?  Thanks in advance for your help!


  1. Hardly blocked at all...

    aequabiliter et diligenter = by equity and diligence

    Coincidentally- I snagged a Stanley Harrod plate just today: if you'd like to see.

  2. Very nice bookplate, thanks for sharing!