Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jan Konůpek - Czech "Interwar" Printmaker Extraordinaire

                                                     (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Jan Konůpek (October 10, 1883 in Mladá Boleslav – March 13, 1950 in Prague) was an internationally renowned Czech painter, illustrator, and engraver. A list of his graphic works comprises 1448 works and more than 600 book illustrations. He is among the three greatest known Czechs for Interwar art, alongside František Kobliha and František Drtikol.
There are not many Eastern European print makers that I like as much as I do Jan Konůpek.  Others that I like are Kobliha and Hodek.  Konůpek had a very unique style which was borderline eccentric.  Oftentimes his images are both beautiful and grotesque at the same time.  His sense of fantasy and religion are two major components that I often see in his Ex Libris prints as well as his free graphics.  The images below came form an elderly collector in a remote village in the Czech Republic.  He apparently has one of the largest Konůpek collections around and I am happy to be the owner of this small set of very fine prints. 


Monday, February 14, 2011

Lankes - Woodblock Master

So after about 3-4 months of being in this crazy game of bookplate collecting I have learned a two things about my tastes:

#1- Although the copperplate engravings are delicate, beautiful and full of gorgeous details it is the heavier, chunkier woodblock cuts that I most admire.  A lot of this probably has to do with my love of Japanese woodblock prints.

#2- J.J. Lankes, in my opinion, is certainly one of the finest American woodblock cut artists around.  His sense of nature and his "salt of the Earth" mentality reverberates throughout his art (not just in his bookplates).

So, that being said, I am aggressively seeking any and all J.J. Lankes plates that I can lay my hands on!  As of now I have just seven pieces but these are some mighty fine pieces as you can see below (posted in order as found in the 1937 booklet A Descriptive Checklist of the Woodcut Bookplates of J.J. Lankes by Mr. Burl N. Osburn (Millersville, PA: The Serif Press).

David Hand, # 19 (1922)

Julius J. Lankes, #21 (1922)

Sarah Heyliger Church, #31 (1923)

Robert Frost, #35 (1923)

Gertrude Morgan Hawley, #62 (1930)

Touchstone, #79 (1934)

Indianapolis Public Library, not listed in Osburn catalog
so it must have been produced after 1937

With many thanks to the grandson of Mr. Burl Osburn I do have a scanned copy of the checklist from 1937.  I would happy to share this with any fellow collector who is interested in the works of Lankes as cataloged through 1937.  Just email me at

And don't forget to contact me if you have any Lankes plates available fro trade or sale!

Have a good evening!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Long time, no post!

It has indeed been a while since my last post.  It seems that life can sometimes get in the way of a good hobby.  Such has been the case for me of late.  But, I did receive a nice package from my loyal bookbinder.  It had some very nice things in it that I would like to share.  See below!

Every once in a while, over on Lew Jaffe's blog, he will show bookplates that are somehow linked to one another.  Well, my meager collection now affords me the chance to do the same. 

A lot of folks are probably very familiar with the EDF plate for Lucy Wharton Drexel (famed NY socialite).  If not here it is again:
Lucy's father was Joseph W. Drexel.  Her is a short take on him from Wikipedia:

Joseph William Drexel (24 January 1833 – March 25, 1888) was a banker, philanthropist, and partner of Baring Brothers in London and Rothschild et fils in Paris.  He was the son of Francis Martin Drexel, and his siblings were Anthony Joseph Drexel and Francis Anthony Drexel. He attended the Philadelphia high school, and traveled through Spain, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Greece.  He married Lucy Wharton (1841–1912) and had two children: Elizabeth Wharton Drexel, and Lucy Wharton Drexel.

Well Lucy, you can rest easy now that I have your father's bookplate in my collection, right next to yours!

Next up is a W.F. Hopson plate that he did for Yale University in 1901.  This plate was obviously reprinted and used many times over given the date on the plate is 1930.  This plate shows up as # 38 in C.D. Allen's book on Hopson. 

On to the next morsel of history!  This plate, although unsigned by any artist, is certainly cute and adorable.  It is a plate for Ms. Henrietta Henkle (aka Henrietta Buckmaster).  She was born sometime in 1909 and died 4-27-1983.  Here is her bookplate and her obituary from the NY Times.  Sounds like she was quite the lady!





Henrietta Buckmaster, a popular novelist, historian and editor best known for her portrayal of the underground railroad and the abolition movement in the novel ''Let My People Go,'' died Tuesday after a short illness at a convalescent home in Chestnut Hill, Mass. She was 74 years old and lived in Boston.
At the time of her death, she was editor of the Home Forum and the fine arts and literary page of The Christian Science Monitor, where she had worked since 1973.
A prolific writer of children's stories as well as historical novels, Miss Buckmaster was known also for her wide humanitarian interests, which included participation in the civil-rights movement and other causes, such as those of American Indians and prisoners' rights.
Among Miss Buckmaster's other works were the novel ''And Walk in Love,'' published in 1956; ''All the Living'' (1962), and ''A Lion in the Stone'' (1968).
Miss Buckmaster was born Henrietta Henkle in Cleveland. She had once been married to Peter John Stephens, and wrote at one time as Henrietta Henkle Stephens.
Miss Buckmaster had no immediate survivors.

The next bookplate is, I guess you could say, my first WWII bookplate.  Mr. Philip Gatch Lauman was born 11-25-1912 and graduated from West Point in 1937.  He was killed in action somewhere in the Pacific on 12-15-44.  God Bless Mr. Lauman for what he did for our country!

Next up is the medical-themed bookplate of Dr. Russel Van Arsdale Lee.  The well-written bio below , as well as the photo of the good doctor, comes from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation website:

Dr. Russel Van Arsdale LeeNo story of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic can be told without an understanding of the man who is considered its founder: Russel Van Arsdale Lee, M.D. By those who knew him, Dr. Lee is described as "creative," "farsighted," "forceful" and "a great doctor," among other accolades. All say that Dr. Lee had a vision for medicine that was decades ahead of its time – a belief that health care was best provided to the community when doctors from multiple disciplines worked together. More importantly, they add, he had the force of will to bring that vision to life.

Russel Lee was born May 10, 1895, in Spanish Fork, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. He was the son of a Presbyterian minister who had come west from Illinois hoping, "somewhat naively, to sell Scotch Calvinism to the Mormons," Dr. Lee said. The family had eight children, with three sets of twins (including Russ and his twin brother, Paul). "Father used to say that if he couldn't convert the Mormons, at least he would try to outnumber them," Dr. Lee wrote in his autobiography.

At 16, Dr. Lee enrolled at Stanford as a chemical engineering major. To make ends meet, he waited tables in a Japanese restaurant and washed glassware in a bacteriology laboratory, where he was inspired by Dr. Hans Zinsser, a Stanford bacteriologist. Dr. Lee recalled, "I went to all his classes and asked him how I could become a bacteriologist. He advised me to get an M.D., so I switched to pre-med. Since I was color-blind, I was never suited for chemical engineering anyway."

Dr. Lee attended Stanford Medical School, at the time located in San Francisco. At night, he ran an emergency medical clinic in a shipyard. Technically, he never finished medical school: during his last year, the great influenza epidemic hit San Francisco, and senior students were pressed into full-time duty as doctors. Dr. Lee served as an intern at San Francisco Hospital. "The flu was indescribable. It gave us immeasurably more experience than attending classes ever could have," he said. Mortality rates were so high that on his first day as a doctor, Dr. Lee lost six patients out of 46 treated.

In 1920, Dr. Lee joined the practice of Dr. Harold Hill, an internist, then moved to Palo Alto in 1924. Over the next six decades, he would practice internal medicine, teach at Stanford, direct the Palo Alto Medical Clinic and emerge as a national leader in promoting the concept of medical group practice.

Dr. Lee was known for his strong beliefs. He was outspoken on such controversial topics as overpopulation, which he cited as a reason to legalize abortion, and illegal drug use, which he believed should be treated as a medical, not criminal, problem. In 1936, he wrote a law establishing a statewide bureau to combat the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and used $8,000 in winnings from a high-stakes poker game to lobby the bill through the state legislature.

He considered one of his greatest achievements to be the 1964 creation of Channing House, a Palo Alto retirement residence where health care was provided by Palo Alto Medical Clinic physicians. He also sold 1,500 acres of land to the City of Palo Alto to create Foothills Park.

Dr. Lee and his wife, Dorothy, met at Stanford and were married for 54 years before her death in 1972. They had five children: R. Hewlett, Richard S., Philip R., Peter V.A. and Margo, all of whom became physicians. Dr. Hewlett Lee recalled, "My father was an extraordinarily interesting person, and my mother was quite a character too ... a great musician and an artist and a liberal thinker. The house was always filled with itinerant people staying there, starving musicians mostly."

In 1960, at age 65, Dr. Lee retired from the physician partnership and his role as its leader. But Dr. Lee's latter years were hardly dull. He continued to see many of his patients, wrote two books and several poems, collected rare books and chess sets from around the world, grew grapes and made his own wine. In 1974, the Stanford Alumni Association awarded him the Herbert Hoover Medal for Distinguished Service.

Upon Dr. Lee's death in 1982, his colleague Dr. William Clark remarked, "I was privileged to learn by example much about the art of medicine from a master. … My many close contacts with this man of unbelievable energy, brilliant intellect and far-sighted imagination were always stimulating, at times exasperating and never dull."

This next bookplate is so odd that it is downright funny.  The back story is not so funny.  I couldn't really dig up any thing on Mr. & Mrs. Tom W. Winder themselves but I did find a story on the Iroquois Theater Fire in Chicago back on 12-30-1903.  It appears that the Winder's had a 12 year old son named Barry that died in the fire.  Sad story.  Back to the is signed but I can't make out the signature.  The Arabic / North African fellow with the scimitar cracks me up for some reason.  Mr. Wonder was obviously very serious about his books being returned, huh?  It is also odd to see a book owner's full address on a bookplate.  This one is very cool!

I love presidential / political history and really like this small bookplate for the Library of the Franklin Institue.  They say that Franklin was "the greatest American President who was never an American President".  They also say a lot of nasty things about him too but, nonetheless, he was a critical figure in the birth of our nation.  I wish it were in better shape so that I could frame it.  I find it very grandeur to be such a small plate!

The next plate belongs to J.H. Wartman.  I found nothing online about this person but the plate is really cool.  It is on some sort of cotton paper with 3 deckled edges and features a very heroic Greek/Roman figure.
And the final bookplate for today is this very interesting image of lady justice, a lion, and the medical serpent symbol.  The odd thing about this plate is the owner's name......what the heck is AMLB LALB?  The plate is signed"cbenicchio" and I am betting that it is actually C. Benicchio.  Still no luck on finding out anything on the owner or artists.  It is still a very bold and striking plate!

Well, I hope to be able to post more updates in the very near future.  Bear with me folks.....I am a small business owner, a father to 2 crazy little boys, I'm involved in church and Little League, etc, etc.  It's hard to find time for hobbies sometimes!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 10, 2011

"Snow Day"

Well, the holidays are behind me, we have moved our business into it's new location, and today we woke up to 1" of ice on the roads.  Schools are closed and so is the office so today is a lazy day to work on getting caught up on my bookplate stuff!  Here is what I would like to get done:

#1- clear off a shelf in the home office for reference books
#2- print cover sheets and spine labels for binders
#3- sort through and file the many bookplates that I have picked up since mid-December
#4- post an update each day this week with images of the many nice plates I now own

If I can get all of that done today then I will be a happy little collector!

Stay tuned for a new update later this afternoon!  In the meantime here are a few goodies to keep you on your toes! 


 I would be remiss if I didn't mention that all of the above items were a generous gift from Mr. Jim Lewis.  Jim is a long-time bookplate collector living in California.  He is someone that I am thankful to count as a friend in this hobby.  He has spent a lot of his time answering my many questions and sharing his knowledge of the hobby.  Thanks so much Jim!