Tottenham county school prize bookplate on book

How to find vintage bookplates in the wild

Jessica Le

When going to second hand book stores I love to try and find bookplates or ex libris stickers in books, often opening up books that don't have a bookplate than those that do. Here are some tips so your search is more fruitful:

1) Browse the classics 
Second hand book stores sometimes have a vintage book area or books published before World War I. In this area look for books under classics, children's literature, bibles or poetry as they tend to contain a bookplate.

2) Check the spine
This is often the first indicator to whether a book contains a bookplate or not. When looking at vintage, leather bound or hardback books - the more ornate the binding on the spine, the more likely it has a bookplate! This is because bookplates are often placed in treasured or school prize books and less likely in paperbacks.

3) Attend rare book fairs
This can be an absolute treasure trove as you can directly ask the sellers which books have bookplates as they're a curated collection that they've brought to the fair. 

It's always a surprise finding bookplates, good luck!  


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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