Every picture tells a story: exquisite ex libris 1900-1950
7 September – 28 October 2007
Auckland Museum has one of the finest collections of bookplates in the Southern Hemisphere, and this is the first time these holdings have been seen at strength since the 1950’s.
Bookplates, or ex libris, came into being about the time moveable printing type was invented in the fifteenth century. Mostly armorial in design, or similar to heraldic shields, these printed tokens were fixed inside books and marked ownership. This practice continued in similar form until the modern era. By the close of the nineteenth century however, pictorial plates had gained popularity, and while variations on orthodox designs continued, images became the dominant motif of personal bookplates in the twentieth century.
The exhibition will survey the recurring motifs, or themes, of pictorial book plates of the era showcasing their excellence and the rich veins of expression artists and patrons have favoured. Visitors will see personal bookplates offer outstanding images distinguished by the attractiveness of their design and illustration. They will gain the impression that bookplates are an art form inhabiting a pictorial space between the precise imagery of stamp design and the expressiveness of limited edition fine art prints.