In addition to being the Director of Development at my job, I am also the jack of all trades, mistress of none! I was assigned the job of refurbishing one of our meeting rooms a few months ago, and then researching some physicians in our archives. I never know what the next assignment will be. So when our CEO decided that we needed to perk up the 10 women’s and men’s rooms in our offices, I knew it would be a challenge.
Luckily, I remembered a stash of about 300 bookplates, dating from the 1700’s to the early 1900’s. I wrote about them here. I had scanned them a few months ago, so I had a head start on the project. These bookplates are about 3 x 4 inches, and they’re super detailed. It’s amazing when you think of the work that goes into engraving them!
The bookmarks hold lots of clues to their owners. Dr. Clark was obviously an outdoorsman, judging by the oar at the bottom of the engraving, and then on the left side a shotgun, and a fishing rod, which, if you follow it up, over and down, leads to a fish! There’s the obligatory skull, as well as a snake, and the year is 1906.
In Dr. Cullen’s plate, you see at the top, the outline of the dome at Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was a physician. Then you see him in his laboratory with his books, and you see the seals of the schools he was affiliated with. At the bottom is his camp in on a lake in Canada. This plate was engraved by the first professional medical illustrator and Dr. Cullen’s close friend, Max Brödel.
This bookplate is from Dr. Harvey W. Cushing, the father of style icon, Babe Paley. It was used by several members of Cushing’s family, as you can see in the initials on the sides. Each person wrote their own name in, along with the city and year. Dr. Cushing spent several years at Hopkins in Baltimore.
I want these plates to be very graphic in their look, so I am converting them all to black and white line drawings to bring them back to their most elemental look. Luckily, Photoshop has an action that does that in one or two clicks. A lot of the bookplates had discoloured over the years, so I thought having them a uniform black and white would be good. I am also cleaning up specks, and darkening the lines to make them a little more legible. Ikea has some very simple black frames, called Nyttja, and they come in an 11.75 x 15.75 inch size. I am having all of the bookplates printed at Staples using their Engineering prints service. I had a prototype run done last week and they came out perfectly. I just upload three at a time and they print them out for me to pick up. And for a 24x36 sheet, it’s about $4.00. Since I am having to do 40 of these, it’s a good way to go.