Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Type Tuesday - Los Angeles Public Library Bookplates

This week the California Historical Society will be visiting Los Angeles for the LA Archives Bazaar. In honor of our visit down south, today's Type Tuesday features beautiful bookplates from the Los Angeles Public Library.  



Joan L. West's handsome volume, The Bookplates of the Los Angeles Public Library, was published in 1971 as the LAPL  was approaching its 100th anniversary. The LAPL started as the Los Angeles Library Association in 1872 as a subscription library. Bookplates were used in the library's early days and provided information such as whether the book had been given or loaned to the library, from whom the book came from, and whether it was to be circulated or not. Below is an example of the bright yellow bookplate used by the Los Angeles Library Association. 



In 1879 the Library Association officially became the Los Angeles Public Library and by June of 1889 it had moved its seven thousand volumes to its new location at LA's new City Hall. The Board of Library Commissioners decided a new bookplate was in order and offered to the public a prize of $10.00 for the winning design. P. Dore of the Crocker Lithograph Company took the prize with the design seen below, featuring an angel aloft high above Los Angeles, holding a torch and two palm fronds. 



Dore's design graced the pages of LAPL's books until it was met with criticism. One fickle patron described the image as something "which looks like nothing so much as a popular malt tonic label." In 1903 the library opted for a more staid bookplate, seen below.



The Los Angeles Central Library was constructed in 1926. To commemorate the occasion a new official bookplate was created. Designed by Norman Kennedy, the bookplate included a scroll at the bottom which could be used to denote a special collection. The first bookplate including the special collection scroll was for the Samuel F. Baker collection of scientific books. Below is Norman Kennedy's bookplate with a notation for the Oak Amidon Memorial collection, named for Oak Amidon, the principal of the library's sociology department.  



The acquisition of special collections added breadth and scope to not only the LAPL materials, but also their bookplates. As bookplates grew more popular many fine artisans began designing for the library. Ruth Saunders, a prominent Los Angeles bookplate designers, created the plate seen below for the Jaroslow de Zielinski collection around 1923. 



The bookplate featured in West's book commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the library is shown below. Printed on mauve colored paper the design features the grizzly bear and star from the Original Bear Flag of California. 



The Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing at the California Historical Society features a number of books on bookplates and its own collection of bookplates used throughout the state of California. Stop by and take a look!

Jaime Henderson,
Archivist

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