Bookplates Exhibit

Stanford University Libraries – Bookplates Exhibit

The Edmund W. Littlefield Poetry Fund Donald P. Abbott Fund for Marine Invertebrates David C. Zalk Endowed Book Fund Charles T. and Nancy B. Munger Book Fund Samson/Copenhagen Judaica Collection

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This online exhibit draws attention to the unique and diverse artwork of bookplates in the Stanford University Libraries’ collections. The images on this site honor hundreds of donors who have created and sustained acquisition funds, often over many years and sometimes several generations, as well as those who have given the Libraries extraordinary collections. Books and other materials obtained through endowments allow the Libraries to collect in depth and breadth in subjects beloved by the fund donors, who select either artist-designed or Stanford Seal bookplates to be placed in supported acquisitions.

Endowment sponsors and their families are entitled to membership in the Jewel Society, established in 2008 as a honorary society with no membership fees or obligations. In addition to personal curatorial reports, members receive publications, select privileges, and invitations to special exhibits and programs. Jewel Society members have the satisfaction of assuring deep collections in tune with personal interests for the entire Stanford community, now and in times to come.

The Libraries' first permanent endowment was the Jewel Fund, established at the specific request of Jane Lathrop Stanford. In 1899, Mrs. Stanford turned over her substantial collection of jewels to the Board of Trustees. In her final address to the Trustees on February 13, 1905, she directed them to sell the jewels after her death for the purpose of establishing a library fund, to be known as the “Jewel Fund,” for books and other publications. Mrs. Stanford passed away two weeks later; the fund she envisioned was created in 1908 and continues to sustain acquisitions to this day.

Among the many kinds of support for the Libraries, endowments for collection building remain donor favorites and are the University’s most accessible named gift recognition opportunity. The Library Development Office maintains a list of current priorities, many in emerging disciplines, and can suggest areas of particular impact.

The History of Bookplates: The earliest known use of bookplates took place in fifteenth-century Germany. The Latin phrase “ex libris” was common in early bookplates, which typically featured monochromatic shields of arms of the individual or institutional owners and sometimes contained warnings of the fate that would befall book thieves. Later designs took on more color and variety, as artists used portraits, landscapes, and modern motifs, reflecting their own creativity and the individuality of the bookplate commissioner. To learn more about the art of bookplates, please see our "Bookplate Links" page.

Please send comments about this site and inquiries about endowments to David Jordan ( or 650-723-3866).

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Updated October 26, 2011

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