Bookplates: Thomas Bird Mosher


bookpate designed in 1897 by Frank R. Rathbun of Auburn, New York for Mosher

bookpate designed in 1897 by Frank R. Rathbun of Auburn, New York for Mosher

The bookplate Mosher used in books from his personal library was designed in 1897 by Frank R. Rathbun of Auburn, New York, with the designer’s monogram of an “F” with two “R’s” mirror imaged on either side. The bookplate was part of an exhibit (entry 1371) of bookplates from the Club of Odd Volumes held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1898. Mosher’s bookplate is described as “emblematical pictorial” in the Burnham collection. The original plate was photo-mechanically printed on Japan vellum paper from Rathbun’s original drawing, but the later scarcity and high price of Japan vellum may have necessitated Mosher’s printing of the plate on Van Gelder paper. It has been said that when Parke-Bernet auctioned the Mosher library in 1948, any of Mosher’s books that didn’t have the bookplate were given one. These plates may have been from a reserve stock Mosher had prior to his death.

According to the Honey Jar, a small 1890s Columbus, Ohio magazine which often focused on bookplates:

“First we have the plate of Thomas B. Mosher (of Bibelot fame). Concerning its origin the owner says it is drawn from the Old German. On a shield the base, sinister and dexter points of which round off into scrolls, an open book supported by two dolphins, tails entwined. Two demi-griffins of heroic size act as semi-supporters. On a ribbon beneath the shield and between a number of conventionalized flowers ‘Ex Libris Mdcccxcvij.’ Below is ‘Thomas B. Mosher.’ All within a serrated border.”

Sappe, D. C., ed. Honey Jar: A Recep-tacle for Literary Preserves. Vol. III, No. 1. (Columbus, OH: Champlin Press at the Sign of the Green Wreath, November 1899), p. 16.

IOBA Standard, Fall Edition 2008, Volume 9, No. 4.

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