Wednesday 5 October 2011

Bookplates of the Royal Canadian Navy

The Royal Canadian Navy has enjoyed considerable attention over the past year or so as it celebrated both its centenary as well as the return of it's "royal" moniker and traditional title 'Royal Canadian Navy', replacing the much blander 1970s era name "Maritime Command" that it had been sunk with many years ago.  In addition, we have also enjoyed the publication of the first volume of the RCN official History "The Seabound Coast", as well as the return of other important Canadian naval traditions that were rather unceremoniously stripped away in previous decades.  For all practical purposes, the RCN once again looks, sounds, and feels, like the RCN should.

In the Canadian experience, as with names, anniversaries, and titles, military libraries tend to come and go.  As I continue my own research into Canada's military library history and ex libris, I am constantly surprised at the number of different branches and locations that existed at one time or another, as well as the rich diversity of bookplates that existed to identify their holdings.  Recently, I came across three different variants of the bookplate employed by the Royal Canadian Navy's Naval Service Library, which at one time was located at Naval Service Headquarters (NSHQ) in Ottawa.  I was particularly pleased to see one of these attributed to Percy Walker Nelles, a Canadian naval flag officer who was Chief of the Naval Staff from 1934 to 1944.

These bookplates are both well designed and attractive, but unfortunately, I know very little about them other than they first came into existence sometime during the late 1920s and were likely used through to the end of the Second World War (1945).  There are no details of the artist, though one example does sport the item stationary identifiers in the bottom left corner.  Otherwise, they remain a mystery for the time being.

VAdm Percy W. Nelles, RCN


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