Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dissecting a Bookplate

I recently talked about how we’re “decorating” the bathrooms here at MedChi with copies of the bookplates which I found last year. One of the more tedious and time-consuming chores I had to undertake before I could frame and hang the plates was to Photoshop them, so they’d look good when they were enlarged.

First I scanned in each plate at 600 dpi resolution. bookplates (11)This is the highest setting on my scanner, and it does the job for me. The papers on which the plates have been printed have discolored and yellowed over the 100+ years since they arrived at MedChi. The engraving ink varies in color from black to brown, although there is one which is orange, and a few others which have red ink.imageI decided to use black frames to highlight the graphics in the engravings, so wanted to convert all of the plates to black on white, so the image would be the stand-out, not the paper, etc.

Once I’d scanned the plate, I had to do some work to clean it up. Dering

The design of this one got lost in the discoloration and foxing on the paper. Dering

The detail on these plates is fascinating, and when I was Photoshopping them, I got a chance to look at them up-close. As an example, this plate has a fishing rod and a fish, a shot gun, a paddle, a skull, an owl, and a pyramid and sphinx, all entwined in roses and thorns.Clark

And this one, which has Johns Hopkins’ distinctive buildings at the top, Dr. Cullen in his library cum laboratory, and his summer camp on a lake in Canada at the bottom. In addition, it has the seals of the schools Dr. Cullen was affiliated with, as well as various scrolls and decorative elements. The bookplate was engraved by Dr. Cullen’s friend, Max Brödel.Cullen

Dr. Dandy’s bookplate has a brain at the very top of it, as fitting his practice as an early neurosurgeon. His surgical team was known as the “Brain Team” and was thought to be the finest available in the world at the time. If you look closely at the bottom, you can see the initials DMP and the date 1939Dandy

If you are interested in looking at the bookplates, either visit our bathrooms, or contact me at events@medchi.org, and I will be happy to show them to you.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Meg, I can only imaging the amount of work that you put into this project--and just think of the labor expended by the original artists putting burin to metal or wood. I hope you'll take some photos of the final installation for us.