Friday, March 14, 2014

ExLibris: The Bookplate Collection, Part II

In December, I posted the first of the bookplate collection and when I found another fascinating plate this week, I was reminded to write another bookplate post.

MedChi had a lending library for many years, and members could join for the princely sum of $1.00. However, there were some rules, which were spelled out in this bookplate.lending library rules

I love that this was unevenly cut out and glued in the front of one of our books. It’s the first one like this I’ve seen, and it must be between the 1850’s and the 1870’s according to the library history. This was a period when the library was at its low point, and members had borrowed, and not returned, so many books that the Board considered closing the library.

I found a similar plate in an old botany book, but it’s from the The Library Company of Baltimore. It’s printed on green paper similar to the MedChi plate, and the rules are a little less onerous. IMG_0009

The by-laws refer to some of the pamphlets in now-historic terms: duodecimo, octavo, quarto and folio. These were printing terms. Here’s a great explanation from Abe Books:

A book’s format refers to the shape and dimensions of the physical book.  When browsing bookseller catalogs and listings on the Internet, the terms and abbreviations used to describe book sizes (8vo, 12mo, folio, quarto, etc.) can seem confusing at first.

Essentially these terms are simply an explanation of the book’s evolution from single sheets of paper into a completed book with printed pages. Each term defines how many times the initial piece of paper was folded to become pages.  Using this terminology, the term ‘Folio’ would tell us that the original sheet of paper was folded once, resulting in two leaves.  Therefore a book described as ‘Quarto’ would have its original sheet folded twice and would have four leaves - each leaf being one-quarter or one fourth the original size.

To make life even simpler, remember ‘Folio’ is a large upright-shaped book and an ‘Octavo’ is a small upright-shaped book, while a ‘Quarto’ is in-between the two and mostly square-shaped. 

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The book where I found this bookplate is not something I’d spend any of my free time reading. IMG_0002

Most fortunately, this book was not illustrated.

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