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Book plate
  • Book plate
    Sherborn, Charles William, born 1831 - died 1912
  • Enlarge image

Book plate

  • Date:

    1894 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sherborn, Charles William, born 1831 - died 1912 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved or etched, ink on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by C. Davis Sherborn

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122b, case 4

Object Type
This object is a bookplate, a small print designed to be pasted inside a book to mark ownership. They were often printed Ex Libris (Latin for 'from the library of') followed by the owner's name. This one is an engraving, that is a print taken from a metal plate in which the lines have been incised by a tool called a burin.

Charles W. Sherborn attended the Government School of Drawing and Design at Somerset House and trained as a goldsmith, both in London and abroad. From 1881, however, he specialised in designing and engraving bookplates, producing over 400 examples. He was a founder member and later Vice-President of the Ex Libris Society (founded 1891) which promoted the art of bookplates as well as providing a forum for collectors. Sherborn was inspired by 16th-century German engravers such as Dürer and the 'Little Masters' and was credited with single-handedly reviving and enlivening traditional armorial bookplates. He was also a founder member of the Society of Painter Etchers, in 1884.

Ownership & Use
Bookplates were specially commissioned by individuals to identify their books. The earliest bookplates, from the 15th century, and books themselves, were only owned by the very wealthy. It was only in the 19th century that book ownership became more widespread.

Subjects Depicted
The cat, which is a visual pun on 'Mocatta', sits in a book-lined library. An inscription suggests the equal importance to the owner of 'Books and Friends'. Other symbols include the lamp of learning and a bust of Shakespeare.


1894 (made)


Sherborn, Charles William, born 1831 - died 1912 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Engraved or etched, ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Lettered with 'C.W.S. 1894'


Height: 7.5 cm, Width: 5 cm

Object history note

Charles William Sherborn (1831-1912)

Descriptive line

Bookplate of Ernest G. Mocatta from 6 bookplates mounted together on card

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design, Accessions 1912, London, Printed for His Majesty’s Stationery Office 1913

Labels and date

British Galleries:


The number of books produced in the 19th century increased dramatically thanks to new methods of printing and binding. Public and private libraries frequently commissioned bookplates to identify their books. These six bookplates were designed by Charles William Sherborn (1831-1912), a major designer of artistic bookplates, who worked in London. He drew inspiration from earlier bookplates and from historic ornament. [27/03/2003]


Prints; Books


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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