William A. Colman, New York, New York (50mm x 32.5mm, c.1829). Courtesy of John Lancaster.

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Anyone who handles old books will have come across these small and sometimes beautiful labels pasted discreetly (more or less) into the endpapers. Booksellers, binders, printers, publishers, importers, and distributors of books used to advertise in this way their part in bringing the book to market. Most of the earliest examples shown here belong to binders (e.g., the Marcus Ward ticket, ca.1841); these were a continuation of binders' earlier practice of sewing into the binding a small ticket with their signature.

This collection began with labels found in our own books, but now it is mainly a virtual collection -- each entry is digitally scanned from books found in the excellent research library to which we repair in our spare time. We must admit to having gone from "coming across" the labels in our book-browsing to actually searching for them. Contributors from around the world have added a wonderful diversity to the collection.

User note: Images here (and in the thematic pages) link to the label in the alphabetical catalog. Label images in the alphabetical catalog link to larger images. Higher resolution images may be had by contacting us. We also welcome comments and suggestions, as well as submissions for inclusion in the collection.

Recent Acquisitions:

I found this in an old volume of Samuel Coleridge's poetry ...

W.A. Bourland, Port Townsend, Washington (35mm x 27mm, c.1888).

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This beautiful 1840s label of Frederick Smith Adnams, a bookseller of Newbury, England, comes courtesy of Robert G. Hill:

F.S. Adnams, Newbury, England (27mm x 17mm, c.1840s). Courtesy of Robert G. Hill.

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... hat tip to Andrew Smith:

Roberts Holmes, Ltd., London, Ontario, Canada (23mm x 9mm, c.1970). Courtesy of Andrew Smith.

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My research so far hasn't turned up anything about this firm, other than its Cape Town location. Found in a copy of Rilke's Ewald Tragy (Vision Press, 1958):

ID, Cape Town, South Africa (18mm x 18mm, c.1960). Courtesy of Third Place Books.

Did you know Foyles was once in Cape Town?:

Foyles, Cape Town, South Africa (21mm x 22mm, c.1967).

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A label from Halle Brothers. Did you know? According to her Wikipedia page, Halle Berry was named after this longtime Cleveland emporium.:

Halle Brothers Co. [dept store], Cleveland, Ohio (15mm x 38mm, c.1930).

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... an early 19th century binder's label, courtesy of Bill Hoff:

Thomas Burrows, Bookbinder, Frederick, Maryland (size unknown, early 19th c.). Courtesy of Bill Hoff.

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I found this at work, at Third Place Books:

Exclusive Books, Johannesburg, RSA (56mm x 13mm, c.1968). Courtesy of Third Place Books.

... also, this and this:

Hochschild Kohn & Co., Baltimore, Maryland (13mm x 14mm, c.1920s). Courtesy of Third Place Books. Pilgrim’s Book House, Kathmandu, Nepal (50mm x 19mm, c.1989). Courtesy of Third Place Books.

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Kiitos (that's "Thanks" in Finnish) to Beau Williamson:

Walfrid Wikmanin [bindery], Rauma, Finland (25mm x 10mm, c.1903). Courtesy of Beau Williamson.

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Hat tip to Jim James:

G. Cecchi & Son, Florence, Italy (30mm x 17mm). Courtesy of Jim James.

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Hat tip to Steven Wallace:

Capitol Book, Montgomery, Alabama (18mm x 13mm, c.1977). Courtesy of Steven Wallace. Hansell's, New Orleans, Louisiana (23mm x 11mm). Courtesy of Steven Wallace.

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"It's the Ticket: Nineteenth-Century Bookbinding in the British Isles and the United States" (Mirabile Dictu #2, April 1998; Mirabile Dictu is the newsletter of the Bryn Mawr College Library.)

Larry Dingman, Booksellers Marks: An Illustrated Book (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Dinkytown Antiquarian Bookstore, 1986).

Harold C. Holmes, Some Random Reminiscences of an Antiquarian Bookseller. (Oakland, Ca.: Holmes Book Co., 1967). See also the Oakland Tribune article "Bookseller saves rare old labels" (4 Jan 1959).

Gary Kurutz, "Pioneer California Booksellers' Labels". Quarterly Newsletter of the Book Club of California, vol.43 (1978) pp.40-45.

Robert W. Mattila, "Booksellers' Labels". Quarterly Newsletter of the Book Club of Washington, vol.10 no.4 (1992) pp.11-13.

Marcus A. McCorison, Book Trade Labels at the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1973).

William Smith Mitchell, "Bookbinder's Tickets" The Durham University Journal Vol.XLVI.No.1 (New Series Vol.XV.No.1) December 1953, pp.1-4, plate. This article is online.

Reinhard Öhlberger, Wenn am Buch der Händler klebt (Wien: Verlag Löcker, 1999 [or 2000?]).

Piero Piani, Questioni di etichetta (Bologna: Libreria Naturalistica, 2002).

Jim Rainer, "Collecting Bibliophemera: Bookseller's Tickets" (Originally published in the Alcuin Society's journal Amphora.

Maurice Rickards, Collecting Printed Ephemera (New York: Abbeville Press, 1988).


Howard Prouty of ReadInk, an online bookshop, has some very nice bookseller labels, displayed here.

A Museum of Booksellers Labels at Plurabelle Books of Cambridge (UK).

Ephemera Society of America.

And thanks to Coudal Partners for including us in their Museum of Online Museums, where we've whiled away more time than we care to admit.

Our deep appreciation goes to the following individuals for their various contributions to this web project: Filip Basic, Hosea Baskin, Robert Behra, Jim Bisso, Ken Bosman, Charlie Breunig, Brian Busby, Benjamin Clark, J.C. & P.C. Dast, Carollyn Dieter, Larry Dingman, Shawn L. Ezell, Sarah Faragher, Michael Floreani, Nicholas Forster, Donald Francis, William Ganong, Pablo Herrero Hernández, Robert G. Hill, Bill Hoff, Lewis Jaffe, Jim James, Kevin Kesler, Leon Koll, Michael Kunze, John Lancaster, Stephen Loreck, David Lowrance, Pierre MacKay, Mario Martin, Siobhan McCormack, Albert Mendez, Mark Mohr, David Mostardi, Dennis Muscovich, David Neale, Peter Christian Pehrson, Edouard Pinon, Howard Prouty, Jim Rainer, Pierre Rastoul, Bruce Shyer, Andrew Smith, Steve Trussel, Steven Wallace, Adam Walter, Beau Williamson.

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