Saturday 15 December 2012

Reading by the Fire

Bookplate for W.E. Kelley
The more bookplates one acquires for their collection, the more one begins to observe recurring themes  amongst them.  For example, I have many bookplates in my collection that illustrate piles of books, sailing ships, homes, and even skeletons.  Perhaps my favourite theme, however, are those illustrating reading by the fire.

Living in Canada means a living a life that includes a good winter season.  This also means getting outdoors for those precious few hours of daylight to skate, play some hockey, or ski, followed by much longer dark afternoons and evenings indoors.

In the winter I always enjoy taking some time during the evening to enjoy a good book by the fire and I know many others who do as well, therefore it seems fitting that this activity would find strong association in the design of several bookplates.

The mysterious Palmer ?
Another thing I really enjoy about these bookplates is that they tend to include a considerable number of details in their drawing.  For example, the bookplate to Palmer at left has included a cat by the fire as well as a very detailed curio cabinet in the background.  Is this a fictitious room or perhaps these were Palmer's favourite things illustrated in his/her favourite place to relax and read?  If anyone knows anything about who Palmer might have been please let me know.

This next bookplate for Charles A.A. Modeer illustrates a couple sitting by the fire, one reading and smoking his pipe while the other knits.  Modeer was born in Sweden in 1877 but his family moved to the United States prior to the First World War.  He ran away to serve on sailing ships (his father was a ship master on the Great Lakes) and spent some time with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company out of San Francisco.  A more detailed biography of Modeer may found here and it appears that the archives of the Oregon Historical Society currently hold some of his personal effects and notebooks.
A couple by the fire

Ladies also enjoyed their time by the fire.  This bookplate belonging to Hope Summerell Chamberlain (1888-1951), a North Carolina socialite and author of local history, shows perhaps a favourite corner chair and lamp by the radiator (okay not a fireplace but still heat...).  

H.S. Chamberlain's papers are at UNC

Of the many bookplates I have with this theme design, Gordon Hanson's remains a personal favourite.  He appears to be in the most relaxed position possible, drink and book in hand, yet still ready to remind you to keep your grubbers off of his property and to not think for one second about walking off with one of his beloved friends.  I must admit there are times you might discover me in the same relaxed pose offering a similar warning.  So whatever else you are up to this weekend, don't forget to put aside a little time to enjoy the coming holidays and curl up next the fire with your favourite book.  That's where I will be.  Until next time ...

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