Bookplates with a handwritten name on a dark table. Ex libris stickers in a victorian vintage design

10 Interesting facts about bookplates

Jessica Le
  1. Bookplates in their modern form have existed since the 15th century in Germany but the earliest known evidence of a mark of ownership in a book or document comes from the reign of Amenophis III in Egypt (1391−1353 BCE).

  2. Bookplates were originally used as a way to prevent theft in monasteries and libraries, where books were often valuable and rare.

  3. The term "ex libris" is Latin for "from the library of".

  4. Bookplates became popular among the wealthy during the Renaissance, as they were seen as a way to show off one's library and social status.

  5. Many older bookplates feature a coat of arms, crest, or other heraldic symbol, as these were commonly used by the upper class to mark their property.

  6. Bookplates can be made of many different materials such as paper, metal, wood, and even luxurious materials like leather. 

  7. Many famous people have designed or commissioned bookplates, including artists, writers, and politicians.

  8. In the 19th century, pictorial bookplates became more of an art form, and many bookplate designs were illustrated by renowned artists.

  9. Bookplates can be collectible items, there are clubs and societies dedicated to the collecting and study of bookplates around the world, including Australia's New Australian Bookplate Society.

  10. Bookplates can also exist on the book covers rather than inside books. These are called supralibros.


Jessica Le is the founder of Fleur & Fable. She writes about bookplates and is a member of The New Australian Bookplate Society.

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