Emile Maurice Hermes bookplate ex libris design 1923

Hermès and the ex libris link

Jessica Le

Hermès, the luxury goods brand, isn't something you'd necessarily associate with bookplates or ex libris, however there is a surprising link between it's logo and bookplates!

The founder's grandson, Émile-Maurice Hermès was an avid bibliophile and had a bookplate made for him. A bookplate is a label of ownership that is affixed to the inside front cover of a book to let other's know who it belongs to. Often it will say ex libris, which is Latin for 'from the library of...'. In 1923 Emile chose to base his ex libris bookplate off a painting in his collection by Alfred de Dreux (1810-1860) 'Duc attelé, groom à l’attente'. His uncle, Henri Pannier, a decorative artist, designed the final iteration of the bookplate with a circle composition, intertwined and flipped monogram EH in the middle and with caduceus' (winged staff with snakes) on either side of the monogram.

Alfred du dreux
Emile maurice hermes bookplate ex libris design

The caduceus in this instance doesn't signify medicine as it (mistakenly) does now. The caduceus was originally used by Hermes (the Greek God, not the family name), as his staff and represented trade/commerce. 
Subsequently in 1950, almost 22 years after the bookplate was designed, the Hermes logo would change to feature the same horse, carriage and groom as original painting. 

hermes logo black and white horse carriage groom

Alfred de Dreux's painting can be seen at the Hermès Museum at 4 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris’s 8th arrondissement and hangs above the fireplace adjacent to Emile’s desk.

Hermes museum

Emile’s bookplate inspired artist Hugo Grygkar to design the popular Ex-Libris silk and twill in 1946. The original monogram in the middle would also evolve overtime to feature the Hermès logo, simply with the letter H in Memphis Bold font designed by Rudolf Wolf. You can find this design available as "Ex libris" in pendants, earrings, rings, cardigans, dresses, sweaters, bracelets among many other forms for purchase. 

hermes ex libris bookplate design

hermes products with ex libris
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Jessica Le is the founder of Fleur & Fable. She writes about bookplates and is a member of The New Australian Bookplate Society.
☛ info@fleurandfable.com.au

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