Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Architecture in Ex Libris IV

In Britain many of the ‘stately homes’ have survived as museums of some kind, but on the continent of Europe, many were destroyed in the two world wars or, as in Britain, converted into hotels, etc. However, smaller homes have mostly survived still, fortunately, as family homes. Thatched roofs now attract large insurance premiums, but the proud owners pay willingly in the comfortable knowledge that their beautiful, warm, thatched homes are increasingly greatly in value year by year. Similarly, stone houses, once unpopular as being thought cold and draughty, are now comfortable at all seasons with air conditioning, under-floor heating, etc. so that small terrace houses and country cottages are being upgraded or ‘gentrified’ as we say in colloquial English with elegant ensuite bathrooms and neat kitchens, winkled into small areas of waste space, while the house exteriors retain all their period charm. The fashion for illustrating one’s home, library, study, or garden in a bookplate has, for the time at least, rather died out. It seems that most collectors find more pleasure in plates showing lovely women. But women, I feel sure, if they choose new bookplates, will not opt for pictures of handsome men, but will choose rather images of smart kitchens, cosy living rooms and elegant homes.

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