Engraved or printed mark of ownership affixed to a book. The earliest, woodcuts from c. 1470, were for Hans Igler, called Knabensberg, with a hedgehog as a pun on his name, and two that recorded gifts to the Carthusian monastery of Buxheim by Wilhelm von Zell and Hildebrand Brandenburg. Usage spread quickly in Germany, encouraged by the participation of Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach (i), the Little Masters of copper-engraving and others. Their works inspired some fine bookplates of later centuries; but though many distinguished artists have subsequently lent their talents to bookplate-making, until the latter part of the 19th century most bookplates were the work of trade engravers.
In the 16th century, although western Europe adopted bookplates, significant contemporary styles emerged only as usage developed, from c. 1650 in France and c. 1700 in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. Earlier, notably in France, gold or blind stamping of bindings was more favoured. Many early ...