Thursday, January 14, 2010

Antioch Bookplate Company VI

The catalog of the 1990s covered Antioch Publishing Company’s expanded product line, relegating its bookplate coverage to pages 41 through 47, with thirteen new bookplate offerings among the many older designs like the ancient map of the world and the bouquet of massed flowers.

The online listing of 2001 and 2002 contained illustrations of two designs which had obviously been part of Antioch’s stock for years and that were newly labeled as ‘old favorites’ without any reference to their earlier catalog numbers: the sepia design of an owl in a leafy background, and a colored design of a central medallion with two birds and three flowers within a scrolled branch.

Since 1926 Antioch Bookplate Company has published numerous versions of their philosophy and general policies that are interesting and informative. While universals, by their very nature, are not tailored expressly to an individual owner’s taste, in 1959, Antioch stated that: “bookplate art … alone among the arts seeks to show, in graphic form, some clue to the personality and spirit of its owner, some suggestion of his motivating values or interest, or something of his feelings about literature and life [and that] hidden beneath the sedate workaday exterior of each of us there is another self, a freer, truer self which most of us are afraid to show the world, lest our dignity suffer. There is a hunger for romance, poetry and adventure. Thus a personal bookplate should be both a device for identifying the books with their owner, and in a deeper sense a medium for identifying the owner with his books … to get a design that somehow ‘fits,’ not just in subject matter, but in feeling as well.”

And for those individuals who were not satisfied with a ‘universal’ design Antioch suggested: “If you have a design of your own, or can obtain such a design from an artist, our charge for making a cut is $3.00 … We strongly advise that wherever possible special designs be done by artists who can collaborate personally with their clients.” One such ‘commissioned’ bookplate [that I have seen] was prepared for and used by S. Barksdale Penick’s library in his home in Montclair, New Jersey. A print of this bookplate is in the Montclair Art Museum’s collection and reproduces the over-mantel metal sculpture of garden tools that hung over this library’s fireplace. Mr. Penick was later the president of the Montclair Art Museum’s board of trustees.

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