Pigtown Design: Ex Libris

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Where I work in Baltimore, we have archives dating back to the late 1700’s and about 250 boxes filled with ephemera that’s both deadly boring and endlessly fascinating. I am working on a timeline for a long hallway and need to find a lot of visuals to create a picture of our history. So, I’ve been searching our archives, which are located on the top floor of our four-story stacks library… where the ghost lives.stacks

One of the boxes I opened contained hundreds of bookplates. At one point, our librarian had sort of an exchange program set up with physicians and medical colleges around the world where they would trade bookplates.

I noticed that the ones I have fall into several distinct categories. First, the medical-related ones with skulls and microscopes.

And I can’t resist sharing this one from an OB/GYN featuring a set of Fallopian tubes, the rabbit, lab rats, famous physicians and scientists, some stirrups and a speculum.And just in case you were worried about where he went to school, there’s the Tulane University seal! That’s a lot packed into a 3×4 inch piece of paper!

And who wouldn’t love this charming butterfly resting atop a human skull?

The second variety is the crest, whether real or created for the occasion.

Lots of stags, lions rampant and other beasts.

Then there all of the monograms with the intertwined letters and the fantastic lettering.

I love the brain capping off the piece!

Finally, there’s a genre of ye olde-style bookplates.

I keep finding so many fascinating things that I am thinking of starting a blog on the history of Maryland Medicine so that these pieces aren’t lost to history. I do put some of them on my FB page, but that doesn’t have nearly the audience that a blog would. If I wrote it, would you read it?

PS – sorry about the awful quality of the images. I photographed these instead of scanning them, as scanning involves quite a bit more effort, including standing on a stool to see the scanner bed!

Meg Fielding

Meg Fielding writes the local interior design and lifestyle blog Pigtown Design. She enjoys dual citizenship with the US and the UK.

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