Special Collections: Bookplates

Bookplate of Rainforth Armitage Walker (1886-1967), designed by James Guthrie (1874-1952)

Bookplate of Rainforth Armitage Walker (1886-1967), designed by James Guthrie (1874-1952)

Our Special Collections include examples of bookplates from the 18th century to the 21st centuries. Bookplates are small printed labels pasted into a book, often on the front endpaper, to indicate ownership. Bookplates are often referred to as ‘ex libris’ which means ‘from the books of…’

Our collection includes several armorial plates, featuring the heraldic emblems and mottoes of landed families or estates. Others are designed by artists for their own libraries, or those of their friends and colleagues. Our collection encompasses a wide range of aesthetic styles, from classical to Art Nouveau.

In the early years of GSA Library, many of our books were donated by eminent people, visiting dignitaries, or people associated with the School. Today we can use their bookplates, with documentary records in our Archives, to trace the journey of these books have taken to reach us.

In the past, our students would design GSA Library’s bookplates through open competitions. To date, we have only been able to name one of these students, Elizabeth Jamieson, who designed a plate for us in January 1945. She received £5.5.0 for her design.