Musician ex libris bookplate artwork by Louis Rhead

The Bookplates of Louis Rhead

Jessica Le

These bookplates come from the book 'A Collection of Bookplate Designs by Louis Rhead' (1907), and features 25+ bookplates by poster designer Louis Rhead (1857—1926). Only 185 copies were produced with 35 of those using Japanese vellum paper. The volume contains designs printed from the original blocks and copper plates (as opposed to being tipped in) as well as numerous decorations from the title page, decorative initial, head and tailpieces illustrated by Rhead. At the time it was published in 1907, the regular edition cost $2 and the Japanese vellum edition was $4.

Louis Rhead came from an artistic family, with three generations in pottery and his immediate family being all artists (and was also family friends with Pre-Raphaelites like Rosetti, Madox Brown and Frederick Watts!). By the time he was 13, he showed considerable talent in drawing and was sent to Paris by his father to learn painting under the French painter Gustave Boulanger. Inspired by poster designer Eugene Grasset, and Arts & Crafts designers William Morris and Walter Crane, his bookplate features bold swathes of black, flat perspective and decorative borders.



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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