• Steven Heller

When the Plates Collided

Who would not want to have Rockwell Kent (not to be confused with Norman Rockwell) design their personal bookplates? … Wait!! Bookplates? What’s a bookplate?

Oh, I forgot—they don’t really exist anymore (at least they don’t work on tablets). And no, they are not used for eating.


From Bookplate INK: “The traditional use of bookplates, begun in the 15th century, is to identify the owner of a book. Bookplates, also known as ex libris, are usually decorative, with artwork that is meaningful to the book owner. Often they show the family coat of arms or some particular area of interest to the owner. Many well-known figures have used bookplates and many well-known artists have created them over the years, but they are available for anyone to use. The Antioch Bookplate Company, in its early days, promoted the use of bookplates for ordinary folk, as people could order one of its many designs—often called universal designs—that are available to the public.”


The examples below are from a wonderful book of Later Bookplates & Marks of Rockwell Kent, published in 1937 by the Pynson Printers. Their office was in the very New York Times building on West 43rd in Manhattan where I worked for 33 years.









PRINTis back! And soon, we’ll be relaunching with an all-new look, all-new content and a fresh outlook for the future. Stay tuned.


#Bookplates #DailyHeller #RockwellKent #StevenHeller


About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →

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