This is a continuation of the excursion report I introduced in the last issue of the Chronicle. Here I will review the basic purposes of this scholarly ex libris excursion.
There are many large collections of ex libris throughout the world. Our purpose for these trips will be to visit individual collectors. To see the bookplate collections of major museums and libraries for research. We will learn the most efficient ways for presentation and storage of the prints.
Through this effort we plan to share our discoveries with ex libris lovers. During this trip, we received permission to take hundreds of photographs of the prints and supporting documents. Here we are laying the groundwork for future ASBC&D “group” excursions. This will be of benefit to artists, collectors, and anyone interested in the graphic art of the bookplate. This will contribute to raising the awareness of the graphic art of the bookplate in the 21st century.
In the last issue we only briefly touched on our visit with Klaus Rödel at the Frederikshavn Kunstmuseum. Klaus may be one of the most important collectors in Denmark and, as previously mentioned, an ASBC&D member since 1968.
The Frederikshavn Kunstmuseum owns one of the largest bookplate collections in the world today, and considers it a responsibility, through regular exhibitions, to generate interest in this lesser known department of the graphic arts.
Over more than 30 years, the museum has shown bookplates from their collection through exhibitions. Here solo artist and group exhibitions are presented. Some of the exhibitions have specific themes or motifs.
We spent from April 7 to 10, 2013 at the Frederikshavn Kunstmuseum enjoying a detailed examination in their very spacious environment to look at the private collections, research, and have a chance to photograph many fine examples. Not only ex libris prints, but thousands of publications, catalogs, books, exhibitions, documents, brochures on the subject in their library. Of course, the reason that they have such a large and organized archive is largely due to Klaus Rödel's enthusiastic role in this institution.
The ex libris prints and documents are stored by country. Each country has a separate box and within these boxes the bookplate artists of that country are stored alphabetically.
Finally, we can say that Klaus and his team have established a beautiful museum. Special thanks to Susanne Sleiborg, Helge Larsen, and Jette Braagaard Rasmussen. Klaus Rödel provided us with generous support and hospitality. James & I thank you once again, Klaus.
* * *
Next stop was England. We took two different trips to England over a 3-month period.
The first trip was between April 13–19, 2013 including Shrewsbury and then London. We arrived in London on the rainy afternoon on April 13th. The next morning we headed to Shrewsbury. This is where we visited with Cliff Parfit who is an important collector and well known as a writer, poet, and teacher. We stayed for 3 days in this charming city to see Cliff's collection, listening to his stories, and taking many photographs.
For years Cliff Parfit lived in Japan. His English Centre in Shimonoseki City had magnificent ex libris collections of prints and fine books. At his home we saw special Japanese multi-color ex libris prints all carefully stored in handmade boxes. We also looked at journals, publications, books, and listened to poems. Cliff’s companion is Bian who is a terrific chef, loves to talk about ex libris, and helps Cliff as he teaches young Chinese students to study English via Skype!
After these three delightful days we headed back to London. We had special permission to view the Franks Collection at the British Museum (ASBC&D members) and examined and photographed many fine examples. Of course, this large collection has over 35,000 pieces organized alphabetically by owner’s name. Our time was not enough. And we promised to visit again to continue where we left off.
We returned to England on June 29th and stayed until July 6th. This time, the first stop on this trip was the Fitzwilliam Museum (ASBC&D members) at Cambridge University. Here we explored a part of their collection and photographed some of it. We also visited Oxford University, and spent some time in these lovely college towns.
We then returned to London after this excursion. Here our investigation of the Franks Collection at British Museum continued where we left off. However, there were many, many fine bookplate examples. We will return for more time on a future visit and continue where we left off.
We have hundreds of photo images from the Fitzwilliam Museum and the British Museum. Here we share just a few.
* * *
In the next issue of the Ex Libris Chronicle (Volume 13, Number 1) I will continue this report of our journey to Belgium from April 19th to 23rd.
Here we visited with Belgian artist Frank-Ivo Van Damme and Joke van den Brandt. They organized a bookplate program to visit their home studios, and see their work. We also had the opportunity to visit the studio of Willy Braspennincx and the International Exlibris Center at Sint Niklaas.
We hope that our ASBC&D members will take an interest in planning with us similar tours to enjoy Little Journeys to Visit Bookplate Artists & Collectors. Along with these excursions to see important world libraries and bookplate museums. Sound like fun? Let’s organize another excursion! Let’s hear your thoughts from our members on this. Your inquiries are invited…
— Prof. Nurgül Arikan
ASBC&D Advisory Board
Article originally published in the Ex Libris Chronicle Volume 12 No. 4