Exlibris (from the Latin “ex” = “out” and “libris” = “the books”), also known as bookplates, are glued into individually – owned books to indicate that the book is the property of a particular person or institution. Artistically arranged initials show which library the book belongs to. Bookplates were, and still are, used so that books can be loaned out whilst the Exlibris is a firm reminder as to who the owner is. They have existed since the invention of printing when many books came into circulation.
To begin with, it was the libraries that wanted to mark their books as their property. Their Exlibris labels used to be either little wood carving, copperplate engraving or steel engraving. These were graphic works of art designed by famous painters like Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder. Hans Holbein the Younger, or Hans Burgkmair the Elder. Over the past two centuries bookplates have become treasured collectors’ items, and these collectors are organised in special Exlibris-societies. A part from that real book enthusiasts still mark their books with Exlibris and commission artists to design them.
Nowadays, people use Exlibris to depict things that remind them of others. There is a change here in preference, from commercial art to free graphics.