20 June 2007

Bookplate for Lytton Strachey by Dora Carrington (1931) - a Bloomsbury Goddess...

This is the first bookplate I have done. They are an interesting collecting area. Values are mainly driven by the artist who designed the bookplate or the fame of the bookplates owner. Looking at our own files we have listed bookplates on the net over the last 10 years by such collectable artists as Jessie M King who did some delightful plates, some heightened with gold, Eric Gill (see below), Austin Osman Spare, Jack B Yeats, Rex Whistler, Beresford Egan, Ardizzone, Willy Pogany, E. McKnight.Kauffer, Simeon Solomon, Escher, Rockwell Kent, Beardsley, Edward Gordon Craig, Mark Severin (erotic) Von Bayros (also erotic) Goor (homoerotic) Burne Jones, Michele Fingesten (see below) Adrian Feint, Joan Hassall, James Guthrie, Rene Lalique and lastly WPB whose bookplate for Charles Stewart Rolls (of Rolls Royce) I would love to have again. Mostly under £100 and a lot under £30 with most bookplates having a very modest value, think penny shares.

We did, however, sell (and possibly undersold) Paul Klee's bookplate for his fellow Swiss school friend Louis Michaud for £1350 (say $2500). This bookplate we described thus:
Within a tree trunk frame Mephistopheles, seated in Dr. Faust's office addresses an eager student. Surrounding them are various objects comically recalling medical studies - a skull with a pipe in its mouth, a nude female torso, a retort, an inkwell, a baby in a wire covered jar and a stuffed hanging fish. Above and below merged, as it were, with the tree are a snake or lizard-like figure.
The high value is possibly because, although a bookplate designed to be stuck in Dr. Michaud's books, it is regarded as an early print by Klee. Bookplates are often worth more than the book they are in- they can be sold with the book rather than removed from it.


Current Selling Prices
$140-$400 /£75-£220

A little piece of Bloomsbury history - this small bookplate by Dora Carrington measures 1 3/8 inches high by 1 3/4 inches wide in it's largest version. The large version is rarer than the smaller but both have now become quite elusive. The tiny postage stamp size one measures only 1" by 3/4 ". Both have the words Lytton Strachey in a plaque or cartouche with folded edges surrounded by net-like cross hatching in a dark sepia tone.

A relic of the artist and Bloomsbury goddess. Carrington wrote of this bookplate in her diary (March 20 1931) rather prophetically:- 'As I stuck the book plates in with Lytton I suddenly thought of Sothebys and the book plates in some books I had looked at, when Lytton was bidding for a book and I thought: These books will one day be looked at by those gloomy faced booksellers and buyers. And suddenly a premonition of a day when these labels will no longer (be) in this library came over me. I longed to ask Lytton not to stick in any more.' He died 10 months later. Carrington shot herself a few months after.

VALUE? Can be found for £50+ although Bloomsbury specialists tend to charge £150+. I once had a supplier for the plate who had one in every volume of Strachey's OED. Bloomsbury collectors tend to be fervent in their pursuit of material so they seem to have all sold. It is so small that I lost a couple. Strachey was a keen collector of antiquarian books so it can turn up in valuable items.

Bookplates by Gill (Coomaraswamy) and Fingesten below. Check out fellow blogger Lewis Jaffe's site Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another link to add is to The Bookplate Society, which publishes a high quality journal. Its focus, but not exclusively, is on British bookplates - see www.bookplatesociety.org