Sunday, March 21, 2010
Armorial Ex Libris I
Armorial Ex Libris
Lars C. Stolt
Heraldry is closely related to ex libris as the great bibliophiles during 17th-19th centuries often were armigerous and of course wished to show their coats of arms instead of or combined with their full names or family names in their books. Consequently, many of the earlier ex libris are armorial, and also several ex libris of today depict the coat of arms of the owner. This means that bookplates are one of the best series of examples of personal coats of arms and a source for heraldic studies. An example of that is that many of the pictures of the family coats of arms in Arthur Charles Fox-Davies' well known directory Armorial Families, last edition 1929, displaying ex libris of just one of the family members.
The first ex libris were often hand painted coats of arms on the cover or the front fly-leaf of a book. If we limit ourselves to printed ex libris that are pasted into the book the earliest one may be an armorial wood cut from about 1470 with the coat of arms of Hildebrand Brandenburg, a monk from Biberach in Württemberg (ill. 1). It is kept in several copies in different collections and is so well known that it is reproduced on the tie of the Bookplate Society in Britain (ill. 2).