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BOOKPLATES, labels, usually inside book covers, indicating the owner of the books. The earliest ex libris with Hebrew wording were made for non-Jews. One of the first bookplates was made by Albrecht Duerer for Willibald Pirkheimer (c. 1504) with an inscription in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin of Psalms 111:10. Hector Pomer of Nuremberg had a woodcut ex libris (1525) that is attributed to Duerer or his disciple, Hans Sebald Beham, with the Hebrew translation of "Unto the pure all things are pure" (NT, Titus 1:15). "A time for everything" (Eccles. 3:1) in Hebrew is found on the bookplate (1530) by Barthel Beham, of Hieronymus Baumgartner of Nuremberg.

Among the Jewish artists in England who engraved bookplates in the 18th century were Benjamin Levi of Portsmouth, Isaac Levi of Portsea, Moses Mordecai of London, Samuel Yates of Liverpool, and Mordecai Moses and Ezekiel Abraham Ezekiel of Exeter. However, they only made a few bookplates for Jews. The first known ex libris of a Jew was made by Benjamin Levi for Isaac Mendes of London in 1746. A number of British Jews in the 18th and 19th centuries had armorial bookplates bearing the family coat of arms, although some of them were spurious. Sir Moses Montefiore had several ex libris which bore his distinctively Jewish coat of arms. Among the few Jewish ex libris made in the latter half of the 18th century in Germany were those for David Friedlaender, engraved by Daniel N. Chodowiecki in 1774; and Bernhardt Friedlaender, by Johann M.S. Lowe in 1790. In the 18th century Dutch members of the Polack (Polak) family were among the early bookplate artists. A.S. Polak engraved a heraldic ex libris for the Jewish baron Aerssen van Sommelsdyk. Isaac de Pinto, a Dutch Sephardi Jew, had a bookplate featuring a huge flower vase with his monogram. The modern Russian-Jewish artist S. Yudovin engraved a number of exquisite woodcut bookplates which are among the relatively few with Yiddish inscriptions. Among other European Jewish artists who have used various graphic media to execute ex libris are Uriel Birnbaum, Lodewijk Lopes Cardozo, Fré Cohen, Michel Fingesten, Alice Garman-Horodisch, Georg Jilovsky, Emil Orlik, and Hugo Steiner-Prag. Marco Birnholz (1885–1965) of Vienna, a foremost collector, had over 300 different ones for his own use that were made by many of the European Jewish graphic artists. Bookplates of three Jews are considered to be among the earliest American ex libris, dating from the first half of the 19th century. The pictorial bookplate of Barrak (Baruch) Hays of New York incorporated a family coat of arms. Benjamin S. Judah had two armorial bookplates, although there is no evidence that he was entitled to bear a coat of arms. Dr. Benjamin I. Raphael also had two ex libris – one showing a hand grasping a surgeon's knife and the other a skull and bones, symbols frequently found on medical ex libris. Among the early American college bookplates that have Hebrew words are those of Yale University, inscribed with Urim ve-Thumim, Columbia with Ori El ("God is my light," alluding to Ps. 27:1), and Dartmouth with El Shaddai ("God Almighty"). Many of the major universities in the United States have a variety of bookplates for their Judaica collections. American Jewish artists of bookplates include Joseph B. Abrahams, Joanne Bauer-Mayer, Todros Geller, A. Raymond Katz, Reuben Leaf, Solomon S. Levadi, Isaac Lichtenstein, Saul Raskin, and Ilya Schor. Ephraim Moses Lilien, the "father of Jewish bookplates," designed many for early Zionist leaders which revealed national suffering and hopes. He gave the Hebrew rendering of the Latin term ex librismi-sifrei ("from the books of") for the numerous ex libris, which he created with definitive Jewish significance, and inaugurated a new era in this field that was pursued by other Jewish artists. Hermann Struck drew inspiration from the monuments and landscape of Ereẓ Israel for the ex libris he made. Joseph Budko created more than 50 bookplates in aquatints, woodcuts, etchings, and drawings, mostly in a purely ornamental style, leaning heavily on the decorative value of Hebrew script. His artistic ex libris are considered among the finest Jewish examples. Jakob Steinhardt also executed a number of bookplates. Among the other modern Israel artists who produced ex libris are Aryeh Allweil, David Davidowicz, Ze'ev Raban, J. Ross, Jacob Stark, and Shelomo Yedidiah. Synagogues, Jewish community centers, and institutions of Jewish learning have their own bookplates on which are imprinted names of the donors of books or names of deceased persons who are thus memorialized. Important collections of ex libris are at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, consisting mainly of the private collections of Israel Solomons and Philip Goodman, and at the Museum of the Printing Arts, Safed, based mainly on the private collection of Abraham Weiss of Tel Aviv.


P. Goodman, American Jewish Bookplates (1956), repr. from AJHSP, 45 (1955/56), 129–216; idem, in: JBA, 12 (1953–55), 77–90; Boekcier, 9 (Dutch, 1954), 21–26; American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers, Yearbook, 25 (1955), 14–25; National Union of Printing Workers in Israel, Katalog le-Ta'arukhat Tavei-Sefer Yehudiyim (1956); A. Rubens et al., Anglo-Jewish Notabilities… (1949); idem, in: JHSET, 14 (1940), 91–129.

[Philip Goodman]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.