6.01.2009

Consider the Crest





On a visit to Bowne* yesterday I was able to study Robert Warner's latest ebay find. Somehow he is able to ferret out and "win" fascinating and often significant ephemera without emptying the coffers. I have no ebay karma, even when I win, I lose.

This exquisite little gem, ca. 1880, appears to be
a child's album for collecting and arraying crests and monograms. A selection of 7 or so appealing geometric page designs serve as display guidelines for arranging the art. Each page pattern is printed in color—one is vaguely islamic, another looks like a cathedral window—and each looks like a coloring book version of a page from the Grammar of Ornament. What floored me was the detail of these snippets of engraving: most examples are smaller than my thumbnail. What disappointed me was the realization that these crests were likely not acquired bit by bit—not garnered from, say, years of missives from "Prince Leopold," or correspondence with "The Royal Dragoons," or "Quekett Microscopical Club", each heraldic emblem cut from its letterhead or calling card, each paper escutcheon stowed away in some violet-scented family keepsake chest. No, they were probably purchased in packs: a revelation by way of the advertisements at the back of the book. No matter. I picked up some useful Latin (and French) mottoes along the way:

sine macula– without spot or blemish
cave adsum—beware I am present
nosce te ipsum— know thyself
esse quam videri— to be rather than seem
sapere aude—dare to know
avisez le fin—consider the end
fuimus– we have been; we have endured
renovate animos—renew your courage
le bon temps viendra—the good times will come

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NB, coming soon: Now that we've scanned the colored guide pages, Robert will letterpress print them and bind them into an updated version of a pasting and display album based on this one. It will be sold at Bowne along with a selection of vintage and vintage inspired ephemera bits— a starter kit of sorts. beautiful.

* Bowne & Co., Stationers at South Street Seaport Museum

6 comments:

Carol said...

OOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooh!

Frank said...

oh my god, i must have it!

HMS Implacable is my car's new name.

angela said...

I like "HM Sloop Buzzard" myself

malcolm enright said...

Hi Angela - here's a link to a monogram post on my ephemera blog: http://ephemeral-male.blogspot.com/

male said...

Hi Angela - here's a further link recently posted for you:
http://ephemeral-male.blogspot.com/2009/07/armorie-continued.html

nick sung said...

incredible! i'm completely in love with these!

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