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Posts Tagged ‘The Scottish Play

Pride of ownership…

While the earliest known marks of ownership of books or documents date from the reign of Amenophis III in Egypt (1391-1353), bookplates (also known by their usual inscription, “ex libris”) date from the post-Gutenberg period when books were (still) things of value, but were widely-enough available to be circulated.  In their modern form, they evolved from simple inscriptions in books which were common in Europe in the Middle Ages, when various other forms of “librarianship” became widespread (e.g., the use of class-marks, call-numbers, or shelf-marks). The earliest known examples of printed bookplates are German, and date from the 15th century.

By the 19th century, books had become more common and bookplates– while still attesting to ownership and thus establishing provenance– had begun to become ways for owners to underscore their personalities, or in the case of celebrities, their images.

Author Simon Rose, writing in the ever-illuminating Dark Roasted Blend, surveys the now-nearly-lost art of the bookplate.  His piece is filled with wonderful examples, e.g.:

Enjoy many, many more at “The Extraordinary World of Ex Libris Art

As we open to our inside front covers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 that then-21-year-old Orson Welles took his curtain call at the fifth-and-final performance of MacBeth in Bridgeport. Connecticut.  The Federal Theater Project production was Welles directing debut, and that start of his collaboration with producer John Houseman.  In a foreshadowing of the creative risk taking that would characterize Welles’ career, he cast MacBeth with African-American performers in all the roles; the setting shifted from Scotland to the Caribbean, and the witches became Haitian witch doctors.  (His 1948 film version of “The Scottish Play” returned the action to the Highlands, but retained some of the dramatic elements of his inaugural outing.)

Production photo (Library of Congress)

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