Margaret’s Bookplate

MEW Her Bookplate

The personal bookplate of Margaret Ely Webb

“Miss Webb, although an illustrator of note, does not confuse the purpose of illustrations and bookplates. Her bookplates are not just pictures with a name added, but are designed from the fundamental conception of a bookplate as a decorative name label. The name is always an inseparable part of the design, with the proper emphasis placed upon it. Her illustrative ability, however, is employed to good advantage in the imagery and atmosphere that she creates within her bookplates.

“She gave me her own plate, figured here, with the comment, ‘That it was originally meant only for garden and out-of-door books, but I have had no other for years and still use it for my best books. The motto, from three letters of St. Bernard, reads thus, Believe an expert, you can find more in the woods than in books. Wood and stones teach you what no master can. As one is accustomed to say in a joking way between friends, I have had no other instructors in this matter but the oaks and the beech trees. The mystic signs on the books stand for the joy gotten out of difficulty, the old fashioned virtue of hope and the peace to be found in perfection.’ Ornithology is indicated, prophetic at the time the plate was made, but a prophecy which came true, since Miss Webb has assisted with the Santa Barbara bird census for several years.”

— From The Book of Artists’ Own Bookplates (1933) by Ruth Thomson Saunders

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