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Sherlock Holmes library book plates

2012 September 17

Here’s something which was very slow to complete. I think I was planning this as far back as last year, in fact. But recently, I finally finished up these spiffy book plates for my Sherlock Holmes library.

Stack of Sherlock Holmes library book plates

These should last me until early middle age, unless I go on some crazy collecting binge

Getting the design right took some effort. I arrived at the main typography easily enough; Caslon is not necessarily Victorian but it is certainly English. And Adobe’s Caslon Pro includes nice alternate figures that permitted a further level of typographic sophistication.

The rest was more of a challenge. Fussy decoration is not really my forte, and beyond that there’s the issue of Victorian design models that I might consult often being, based on my experience, frankly rather ugly. I think Victorian publishing experienced something like the modern world did upon the advent of desktop publishing, i.e. suddenly so many options were available people went a little crazy with them.

What I eventually came up with feels satisfying, whether or not it’s genuinely period-accurate. This will make me happy to place and see in my books, which I’ve been doing for my existing collection the past week or so:

Book plates in books

A few at a time

The whole thing is a very “retro” activity, really, from the design to the hand-written data to the whole idea of having a personal print library with custom book plates. These are just ordinary paper, also (though a lovely, flecked ordinary paper which my friends at Copy King had on hand) and I’ve painstakingly placed each one using dry mounting with rubber cement. I’m not sure if that’s ideal archival technique, but I’m familiar with it and I have the material on hand; if it doesn’t last forever, well, that’s probably just fine given the unlikelihood of anyone wanting all this rubbish after I’m gone anyway.

I did have to reconstruct the dates of acquisition for my existing collection, for which this blog was a very useful resource. And I also fudged the numbering a little so that the nine-volume canon would be first. But from here on out, everything gets a number and date as I acquire it. What’s the point, you may ask? There is no point to the activity other than the activity itself, is the answer; I’m fussing with my collection because it’s a way to get a little bit more enjoyment out of my collection. That’s all.

Anyway, very pleased with this. About the only note of discord I might sound, in fact, is with the broader fact of Sherlock Holmes’s resurgent popularity at the same time I’m making a hobby of the character. A movie franchise and two prime time television series (even if one of them seems to have nothing in common with the original premise other than the name)? Good grief. What are you trying to do, make me seem like some easily-led poseur, getting excited about something because a corporate marketing blitz steered me toward it? Bah. I have not seen any of this claptrap, in fact. (If one wants genuinely good, genuine Sherlock Holmes in video form, I recommend the Jeremy Brett series.)

Oh well. Fortunately, books typically remain a relatively safe little corner which rarely receive much wider notice (unless they feature BDSM themes), in which I can indulge my elitist and misanthropic instincts in peace.

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