Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Bookplate Journal - Autumn 2012

I was very pleased to receive the latest bookplate society journal this past week, which includes in its pages an excellent updated version of Colin White's comprehensive study on the Scottish artist Jessie M. King.  As the society's web page notes:

Vol.10 No.2 Fall 2012 
It forms a major part of the Society’s Autumn 2012 issue of The Bookplate Journal, which has been sent out to members in the last days of October 2012. Not only does this article (32 pages in all) update the checklist that appeared in March 1995, but 15 of the bookplates are reproduced in colour. In his book A Guide to the Printed Work of Jessie M. King, 2007, Colin White listed King’s bookplates, but two or three have since come to light, and the book does not have his extensive comments which are now appearing in this forthcoming journal.

Bookplate by Jessie M. King

This issue also includes articles examining the bookplate designs of Graham Rust;  makes inquiries into whether or not Catherine the Great had a bookplate; displays the ex-libris work of English painter Keith Vaughan (1912-1977); as well as a great little piece about how one might design one's own bookplate (something I'm currently working on myself...).  In addition there are collecting and personal notes, etc., and along with the journal was the October 2012 society newsletter containing the details for Auction 67.

I've acquired some nice new items this past week for my collection but I'll post these tomorrow after I get them scanned in later today.  Also, I want say 'thank you' for the many kind emails and comments I received concerning my previous post on hoarders and snobs.  It seems this attitude is a bit more prevalent on this side of the pond and I encourage folks not to be bullied out of enjoying what is a great learning hobby.

As always, if you have bookplates for sale or trade, I'm always interested in buying whole collections or individuals items from any period.  As well, if you have any questions or want to share some of your own finds on this blog for everyone to see, don't hesitate to get in touch.  Until next time...

Monday, 12 November 2012

Hoarders, Snobs, and the Endangerment of a Hobby

Given the title of this blog I need a bit more space than usual to cover the rant that follows.  It's a subject, however, that's been on my mind over the past couple of years as I've delved into library and book history, not to mention as I continue my pursuit of Canadian bookplates and the stories of their sellers and owners.

Having come from a long line of antiquarians, dealers, and collectors, I've been exposed to just about every known hobby as well as the characters they attract.  And while every hobby has its ups and downs, nothing endangers the longevity of one's enjoyment of collecting something more than having to deal with two particularly troublesome folks in the collecting business - the hoarder and the snob.

We've all met them in our travels.  The hoarders often like to style themselves as 'acquisitors'; they treat everyone as competition; they're knowledgeable enough of the hobby to be dangerous; they're shameless in their pursuit of new material often using subtle shoving, poor manners, and a lack of bathing as weapons to move others out of their way at shows.  They often derive a guilty pleasure from the feeling that another collector might covet what they've already hoovered into their own basements.  They care little for the objects they possess other than to own them.  They do nothing to enrich their artifacts through research, show no interest in sharing any knowledge of their finds with others unless it makes you jealous of course, and they actively encourage you to give up collecting the same things as they declare a corner on the market.  In essence, they want you to go away.

At the other end of the spectrum are the snobs.  They style themselves as 'experts'; they treat everyone else as idiots; they're knowledgeable enough of the hobby so why aren't people impressed by this?  They're shameless in their disdain for others who apparently are unaware that the said collectible is in fact a type E version only issued in July of said year, not the B version issued in much smaller numbers in February of said year and therefore much rarer (idiot!).  They often derive a guilty pleasure from pointing out things you've missed in the most condescending manner possible.  That said, they usually care little for taking the time to answer questions about their hobby at all, show no interest in getting others excited about it or cultivating new generations of collectors, and actively discourage you from trying to retain your interest in the hobby since you obviously don't know what you're doing anyway. And you're bothering them. Again. Sigh.  In essence, they also want you to go away.

This past week I've run into both of these archetypes.  One guy shoved in next to me at a show and seeing the bookplates I had found, actually tried to outbid me with the dealer right as I was paying for my purchase.  He then announced his claim to first refusal on any other bookplates at that table.  When sending another guy an email asking a question about the provenance of a particular bookplate, I was condescendingly informed that as he was the only "serious" dealer in his entire country of over 300 million people how dare I challenge his opinion and bother him with such trivial queries.  And then these people wonder why everyone thinks their hobby is lame and marked for extinction.

I've had a couple of friends who took up bookplate collecting, only to leave the hobby after their encounters with the hoarder and the snob, and it's a shame really.  Given that even the most organized bookplate societies have only a couple hundred members worldwide at best, if people are discouraged from joining the hobby by such folks or treated with disdain when they show a genuine interest, more bookplates will end up in the bin than in albums.  Worst of all, no one will really care.  Food for thought.  Until next time...