Thursday, January 14, 2010

Antioch Bookplate Company I

Antioch Bookplate Company


Edith Anderson Rights

Suddenly my attention has been focused on the Antioch Publishing Company (formerly the Antioch Bookplate Company) a concern with which most Americans who love books are familiar. [All facts about the history of Antioch Bookplate Company and any quotations used in this article were taken from the company’s publications: catalogs, brochures, and online web sites.] The spark for this attention was the announcement [New York Sun, June 14, 2007] that Antioch College (founded by Horace Mann) of Yellow Springs, Ohio, plans to close its doors on July 1, 2008, because it can no longer function in a fiscally valid manner. A few days later concern was expressed about the future of the periodical Antioch Review, a publication earlier spun off from its parent institution; unlike the Antioch Publishing Company which had never been officially a part of the college.

The Antioch Bookplate Company (the earlier name) is, so far as I can determine, the only business that has provided bookplate services for nearly a century, had absorbed an unknown number of their smaller competitors and is still the principal producer of universal bookplates in the United States. Small bookplate divisions still exist in companies, a few companies have survived more than a few years, and new companies still appear, but Antioch Bookplate Company is the largest and best known in the United States.

As early as 1946, I (then a college student) chose the Antioch bookplate G9 for use in my personal library. Later, in two decades (1984-2004) of inspecting institutional bookplate collections I saw and photocopied for my own use those advertising brochures and bookplate catalogues as appeared in these collections in order to identify properly some of the bookplates that had entered my collection. Any inspection of a bookplate collection created in the early 20th Century may well disclose a small brochure produced by a graphic artist who offers a group of designs from which an individual could choose a bookplate; any number of these entrepreneurs solicited business in this manner, although most collections have only one or two of these brochures. Most of those bookplate brochures by individual artists had no publication date although in some cases a date can be surmised from the age of the collections in which they appear. So far the only other significant 20th Century catalog, that I have seen, came from the firm Berliner & McGinnis.


  1. I am gathering thoughts for a paper I am writing, and I need outside voices in this matter.

    In your opinion, should bookplates have a place in the history of printmaking?

    Do you think they were any less sophisticated than other etchings and wood engravings?

    And what makes you say that?

    Thank you.

    Karl Marxhausen
    Artist and Teacher
    Missouri USA

    1. Yes, Karl, I do think that bookplates should have a place in the history of printmaking. After all, it is a wee print. I don't think they were any less sophisticated. They were simply wee pieces of art to show ownership of one's book.

  2. The June 20th posting on my bookplate blog is also about Antioch Bookplates and may also interest you.
    Lew Jaffe

  3. Hi. I think it's such a shame that Antioch will close, given the fact they have been in the business for such a long time. But that's how things are, nothing to do!