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Advertising bookmarks

Mark of the times

The bookmark is placed between the pages of a book to mark the reader's place, it is an enduring accessory for the bibliophile as it is transferable from book to book.

The printed bookmark from the mid-1870s became an important medium for companies and business to advertise their products and services. It was much favoured as a giveaway by early advertisers and became one of the most popular items of promotional printed ephemera of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Bookmark calendar

The practical use of the bookmark was enhanced in some examples by printing a calendar on the back. Bookmarks also reflect the design styles and characteristics prevailing at the time they were produced as depicted in the two examples below.

Art Nouveau Bookmark Art Deco Bookmark

The Art Nouveau bookmark exudes an organic style, favouring long, curving flowing lines typically depicting lavish flowers and beautiful women whereas the Art Deco bookmark, Gitanes bellboy by Rene Vincent, from the 1920s is of a more stylised, geometric character delivering strong clear images.

World Bookmark Day, February 25, was created by the International Friends of Bookmarks (IFOB) to celebrate the readers' little helper and the ever faithful companion of books for 2000 years. IFOB is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the collection, preservation, and celebration of bookmarks.

Because they are inexpensive, attractive in design, are relatively easy to preserve and do not require a great deal of storage space bookmarks are an ideal item for the collector of printed ephemera.



This regular feature shows special items from members’ own collections. Submissions by email should include a scan of the item.