More than 300 bookplates are on display at an exhibition, titled “Contemporary International Ex Libris”, in Longhua District. Organized by the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, this touring exhibition has been held in Xi’an and Harbin and will continue in Qujing, Kunming and Guangzhou after the Shenzhen leg.
A visitor takes photos of bookplates exhibited at China Printmaking Museum in Longhua District.
A bookplate, also known as an ex libris, is usually seen as a small printed or decorative label pasted into a book, often on the front endpaper, to indicate ownership starting in the 1400s. Bookplates typically bear a name, motto, device (such as a coat-of-arms), crest, badge, or another motif that relates to the owner of the book, or is requested by the owner from an artist or designer. The art of printed ex libris began in Europe in the 15th century, and first appeared in China at the beginning of the 20th century.
Until the advent of bookplate collectors and their frenzy for exchange, the devising of bookplates was almost invariably left to the heraldic-stationery salesman. Near the turn of the 20th century, the composition of personal book tokens became recognized as a minor branch of a higher art, and there had come into fashion.
Bookplates are very often of high interest and of a value often far greater than the odd volume in which they are found affixed, either as specimens of bygone decorative fashion or as personal relics of well-known people. However the value attached to bookplates, besides as an object of purely personal interest, is comparatively modern.
Since the 1950s, there has been a renewed interest in the collection of bookplates and in many ways a reorientation of this interest. There are still substantial numbers of collectors for whom the study of bookplates, which spans 500 years, is a fascinating source of historical, artistic and socio-cultural interest. They have however been joined by a dominant group of new collectors whose interest is more than anything the constitution of a miniature, personalized art-print collection.
Dates: Until April 1
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Tuesdays
Venue: China Printmaking Museum, Yuxin Road, Longhua District (龙华区裕新路中国版画博物馆)
Metro: Line 4 to Qinghu Station (清湖站), Exit D and then take a taxi(SD News)