Monday, September 14, 2009

The Bookplates of Lionel Pries, II

In December 1923 Pries acquired Sallie B. Tannahill's P's and Q's: A Book on the Art of Letter Arrangement (1923), and in 1927 he acquired Richard Braungart's Das moderne deutsche Gebrauchs-exlibris… (1922), addressing contemporary German bookplates, but it was not until the 1930s that Pries again engaged in bookplate design. Initially he created a bookplate of rather traditional character-it shows a figure planting a tree, and may reflect Pries's knowledge of traditional European bookplates. However, he used this in only two books, and apparently abandoned it almost immediately in favor of the bookplates he used from the mid 1930s to the mid 1950s.

By the mid-1930s Pries had created four bookplates, each of which represented one of his interests. The first shows a small male figure with two large watercolor brushes-Pries primarily used this in books about art and artists. Pries apparently designed this bookplate for his university colleague Henry Olschewsky, but then decided to use it himself. (A large pencil sketch of this design (7-1/2" x 7-1/4"), with Olschewsky's name, not Pries's, survives in the Pries drawing collection at the UW Libraries.) From the late 1920s to the 1940s, Pries spent part of each summer in Mexico and he collected pre-Columbian artifacts. His second bookplate of these years shows a pre-Columbian carving; this bookplate is found primarily in his books on indigenous art and archaeology. Pries's third bookplate shows a reclining figure, possibly an angel. Pries used this plate most often in books on gothic architecture, religious art and similar subjects. The last, showing a classical structure with a stairway, was likely intended for architecture books. Pries may have intended each of the bookplates only for a single category of books, but over the next decade and a half, he was not entirely consistent in their use.

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