ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Make a Bookplate

Updated on June 26, 2013

Bookplates are printed paper name plates that are fixed to the covers of books to mark who they belong to. Book lovers have used these for centuries, not just to declare ownership of a book, but to enhance the beauty of their book collection.

In many parts of the world, bookplates are called Ex Libris from the Latin meaning ‘from the library of’, This is one of the most common phrases you will see used in bookplates.

The earliest examples date from the fifteenth century. Some contain warnings against failure to return a book or hints of bad things that might befall a thief. An early European bookplate wished that wrongdoers "might be kissed by a hedgehog".

Bookplate of the American illustrator Edward Penfield (1866-1925)
Bookplate of the American illustrator Edward Penfield (1866-1925)
Typical bookplate from 18th Century
Typical bookplate from 18th Century


Up until the twentieth century, bookplates were mainly used by aristocratic families in Europe for their library collections and the design was usually no more than the coat of arms of the family

As more and more people could afford their own books In the late nineteenth century there was an explosion of creativity in the design of bookplates. At the same time more artists took an interest in the format and began creating specially commissioned designs.

Instead of dull armorial seals and grandiose shields or castles, the new bookplates featured such things as favorite animals and trees. Many were produced for children to encourage them to treasure books.

The collecting of bookplates also became popular and some of the most famous artists of the day produced designs in the twentieth century which now fetch very high prices.

Bookplates and Ex Libris around the World.

Many countries have strong traditions of producing and using bookplates, You can find images of some of the best American-produced bookplates at the website below  It is also an interesting glimpse into the world of those people who are fanatical in their love of ex libris.

The Spanish speaking world has an especially rich history of producing highly unusual and very personal bookplates. For some unusual examples of bookplates you might like to view the collection at the site below.

Some Spanish bookplates (see link below).
Some Spanish bookplates (see link below).
Logo of the Japanese Association of Bookplates
Logo of the Japanese Association of Bookplates

In Japan, bookplates have traditionally been very colorful in contrast to European designs. Often they show shrines, images of Buddha or temples. Traditional cultural pursuits like kabuki theatre are also popular.


Modern meercat bookplate in woodcut style.
Modern meercat bookplate in woodcut style.
Nelladesigns bookplate from Etsy
Nelladesigns bookplate from Etsy

Commission or Buy a Bookplate

In days gone by, a bookplate would be printed from wood cuts or from engraved metal pates. Often the bookplates would be monochromatic, although sometimes they would be printed then colored by hand.

Nowadays, bookplates can still be designed and printed to order in traditional styles.The Bookplate Society has a page of artists who will accept commissions.

The arts and crafts website Etsy offer bookplates that have been produced by individual designers. Some will personalize a bookplate for you at a surprisingly low cost. There is an example to the right but many others can be found with a search of the site.

eBay is a good place to hunt for bargains.

Make your own Bookplates

You can make a bookplate at home on a computer and simply print it off. You can use also use rubber stamps to print off a design.

Use a Stamp

Websites and some craft stores sell ready made stamps which you can use to make a bookplate when you need one. Rubber stamps are sometimes used to stamp a book directly- this is just a matter of taste.

Completely original rubber stamps can be made at home with kits bought online. You can create a design on a computer or paper then convert it into a stamp with an ingenious apparatus.

For those with craft skills ( and a few carving tools) this site shows you how to carve a rubber stamp.

Some traditionalists like to use wooden stamps to create the effect of the early bookplates produced from wood cuts. Woodcuts are are more difficult to produce but if you want to learn the skills try this site.


Computer software-designed Bookplates

If you have graphics software like Adobe Photoshop or SVG software like inkscape it is easy to produce and print your own bookplates.

If you don’t have this kind of software you could try using the free software at

free children's bookplate
free children's bookplate

Free Bookplates for Children

Encouraging children to read and love books is one of the best things that you can do for any child. As we all know, every book is a new world and leads on to other new worlds. Bookplates encourage children to see books as special and very personal. They can also inspire a collecting spirit which can spill over into many other areas.

Myhomelibrary has a huge range of wonderful, free bookplates that can be downloaded and printed. There are contributions from some of the world’s leading children’s illustrators like Raymond Briggs (of Snowman fame) and Martin Brown.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      5 years ago from UK

      Very interesting background and useful tips. As a collage artist, I have a collection of these items which can be very beautiful. I have modified one or two of my collection for my personal use. I have a large collection of both fiction and non-fiction.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)