I've moved bookishwhimsy.com to tumblr! This blog is now an archive of my past posts.


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Refined Reader (2) The History of the Bookmark

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today.  It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times.  I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know!  This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!


Source
Bookmarks came about in the time when books were very expensive works of art so it was necessary to mark one's place in it without damaging the book.  Heaven forbid dog-earing or placing something in the book that could damage the spine!   This site postulates that bookmarks may have been used in ancient Egyptian times to mark the place on long papyrus scrolls.  But the earliest known bookmarks are from Medieval times and were often scraps from materials used to make the books.  The circular bookmark pictured is from ~1500 and was made of vellum.  You could slide the bookmark up and down the string, and the numbers would mark what column you were on.

Later, bookmarks were often silk ribbons sewn into the book until the 1850s, when detachable bookmarks started to become popular. They also became fancier and were made of a larger variety of materials.  There was a well known pictorial bookmark from this time called the Stevengraph.  They were created by Thomas Stevens in England and were pictures woven in silk.  Many bookmarks were also made as advertisements for a wide variety of things which isn't really the case today.  Bookmark advertisements now are most often for books or bookish related things which makes much more sense to me.  But it seems good marketing to me to have let's say a food brand on a bookmark so that every time you open a book to read you might want to also get something to eat!  (Like chocolate! *points below*)

Source
Today, bookmarks can be very inventive, and of course it is nice to get a bookmark from an author or bookstore as a keepsake.  I wouldn't say that I collect them, but I do have more than I need, and if I find one I really like, I often will just buy it.  I have these leather souvenir bookmarks I bought in 9 different cities in England framed in my room, so I would recommend framing beautiful bookmarks as a perfect bookish gift!

My current favored bookmark is the Bookjig which has a metal clip with a ribbon attached.  The clip slides onto the book cover so it's like the ribbon is a part of the book and I don't have to worry about laying my bookmark down somewhere.  I thought it was a really cool idea!  The back of the metal clip does have a curve to it though, so when I'm using it the front cover of the book doesn't lay completely flat.  Otherwise though, I love it!


How do you mark your place in your books? (Please tell me you don't dog-ear!)
Do you have favorite bookmarks?

Sources:
The Ephemera Society of America
Mirage Bookmark / Flickr
Wikipedia





And speaking of bookmarks, I would love it if you would bookmark this site - The Duchesses!  Paola from A Novel Idea, Charlotte from Gypsy Reviews, Tory from The Sleeping Latte and I are teaming up to provide more blogging adventures on that site!  Bookish Whimsy is still my main blog, but The Duchesses will be a way to spend more blogging time with these great gals!  So please check it out (enter the giveaway!) and let us know what you think!

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23 comments:

  1. Whoa, definitely didn't realise that bookmarks had been around for that long! That photo of the 1500s bookmark looks so cool, and functional. :D I must take your advice on framing beautiful bookmarks. I have a lot of them, but I hardly use them. I usually end up using scraps of paper/id cards/receipts/etc, basically anything within reach. :P

    And, I must confess something horrible. I dog ear. PUT DOWN THE TOMATOES, LET ME EXPLAIN. I *used* to dog ear. Maybe I still do, but I usually catch myself before I do it. It's just something that I used to do to my cheap paperbacks when I was a kid, but it's a habit that I've been breaking. Especially when it comes to my hardbacks, I have never and would never dog ear a hardback! I also never dog eared a book that I borrowed. It's one thing for me to rough up my own books, but I would never do that to someone else's. :P

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  2. Wow, I never realized that bookmarks already existed in that time! How fascinating :D

    I always use bookmarks. I try very hard to not-crack the spine, so a bookmark is essential here. I prefer to use the magnetic ones. They don't slip from the pages when I take the book with me :)

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  3. Whoa. That's pretty badass (the bookmark with the string and numbers) and I want one! XD I pretty much lose my bookmarks after using them once, so now I keep a box for them so that they won't get lost. ;)

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  4. I love the ribbon sewn in bookmarsk on hard bound books! OTherwise I never use bookmarks.. I use whatever I have laying around.. old envelopes, business cards, photos.. I use photos alot and they tend to get left in the books when I am done so its a nice suprise to find when I am re-reading something :)

    I did not know that books marks had been aroudn that long.. That is really cool. Thanks for looking all that up!

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  5. Interesting post! I actually never thought about how bookmarks came to be. And that they are so old already!

    I always use bookmarks to mark my pace. I sort of collect them, not really active and my collection is still pretty small. but if I see a nice bookmark I have to have it, I love original bookmarks. I even admit to collecting the bookmarks from The Bookdepository and keeping one of each in a map to keep nice, while I use any doubles. My most original bookmark is one that looks like a small leaf: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/552957660468328661/

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  6. Oh I just commented on a refined reader post yesterday (I think) and now here is one again. Yay! Wow, those ancient bookmarks look really cool! Haha, having food on your bookmark might not be that good an idea though. Lol. I think I'd spend more time thinking about eating than reading ;D But those leather bookmarks sounds awesome. :)


    And you have Disqus now!! I love me some comment notification.

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  7. I've just added Disqus to my blog! For the previous comments that were left I HOPE they will show up again soon after the import! I would love to get a new comment now... just to make sure it's working... :D

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  8. I haven't been using bookmarks lately. I have a few favorites that I think I left behind with my recent move, so I took some generic ones from the library. (They're no fun.) I love the Boookjigs idea, but I don't like the idea of metal clipping to the book... Although, they do have dinosaur ones that are pretty. Couldn't we just use the board the clip comes with?!


    My favorite bookmark ever was a small yellow one with a water-colored mouse from an artist I can't remember... that I got when I was about 10. I was using it right up until I moved. It was sort of a double bookmark that was magnetized. *sigh*

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  9. Thank you my first Disqus commenter! :D LOL I know what you mean, it is better to have something neutral on those bookmarks so I can focus on the book! Even bookmarks with scenic places might get me daydreaming. :D

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  10. The designs of the bookjig are really nice (I have the fox one). I was afraid that the metal clip might scrape or damage the book but it hasn't - it slides on and off real smoothly. But if it was flat I would like it better. Maybe they will come up with one that has a sturdy board and a long ribbon though!


    Oh I wish I had some of my bookmarks from when I was young - it would have such sentimental value for me!

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  11. Ooh, I would love to have one of those medieval bookmarks! I'm much the same with buying bookmarks- I'll usually buy one if it really catches my eye. And framing bookmarks is such an excellent idea; I'm going to have to give that a try!

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  12. Such a fun post! I love learning history like this, it's fascinating. Unrelated, but I once looked up how women began shaving their legs (because how much do we wish that trend had never started?) and the history on that was pretty cool, too. Anyway.

    I never dog ear. I tend to use receipts or scraps of paper if I can't find anything. The weirdest thing I have probably used was money and that was when I was desperate. Great topic!

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  13. OH LORD, when I loan books to people, they come with warnings that include never to dog-ear the pages, because there will be painful punishments. We do not damage books. They are sacred. Repeat. And seriously, I love the idea of food being advertised on bookmarks. I am so prone to ads that I'd eat whatever is advertised each and every time I picked up the book, even if I'd just finished eating some. I often just bookmark my books with whatever scrap of paper is lying around, though sometimes I use bookmarks from events or bookstores. I'm always losing them, though, so I kind of like my paper scraps for their disposability. I'm definitely looking up those Bookjigs, though!


    Ooh Disqus!! I love it! I like my emails, which often stack up and remind me to get up to date on my commenting. :)

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  14. Me too - even though I don't read books with lots of columns I can make use of it! :) And yay, I've had a decorating idea that appeals! Normally I'm not very good at it. haha

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  15. I immediately had to google leg shaving since you mention it! I didn't realize it became a trend so recently - darn those turn of the century women - if they had held out on their vanity, we might not have to bother with that today! LOL


    Money is a fun bookmark! It takes a little of the mystique away to use it for something as mundane as a bookmark. :)

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  16. LOL, it is very hard to loan books to friends! I also feel ill when I see a crease in the spine - books should be kept as pristine as possible! With people mentioning that they lose bookmarks quite often it seems like you can never have enough of them! So it's good to keep a stock on hand (I say this to make me feel better, as I stuff more bookmarks in an envelope. :D) I saw my Bookjig at my local Barnes and Noble, so if you are ever in one, you can look at them there!


    I am liking Disqus so far! I just wish they would import my old Blogger comments already!

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  17. Nice things seem to disappear or stop being nice with kids around, so I'm thankful for the free paper bookmarks at the library. Usually there's some useful information like current reading lists or how to download free stuff using my library card.

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  18. I think there is a market for vintage looking bookmarks then! And it's hard to get more vintage than medieval!


    LOL okay, I heard you out before the tomato throwing so I understand. Actually *whispers* I used to do it too. Although it was only for library books which was very bad for me, because of course I should treat those books as nicely as I treat my own! So it's good that you are stopping yourself from doing it! :)

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  19. Magnetic ones are cool! I don't think I own any which is odd, I should probably keep an eye out for a good looking one the next time I'm in a bookstore. :)

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  20. I know, it seems surprising that readers back then would have that - they really put time and thought into it! A bookmark box - that has a nice ring to it. I'll probably need one soon, my envelope is filling out!

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  21. I think it's so nice when a gift edition book has a ribbon sewn in as a bookmark! It's more elegant. I love the idea of using random photos as your bookmark as a surprise for yourself!


    Thank you for commenting! :)

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  22. First off.. The Duchess???? Must check that out.. but don't leave this blog behind!!!! I will be sad. I am notorious for losing books marks. That is why I love the books that have the silk ribbon string sewn in. How neat to see where book marks came from.

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  23. Oh I won't leave my blog behind, I am too fond of it! :) And thank you for checking out The Duchesses!


    Hmm it seems that books should have ribbons sewn in as a standard - it would be so helpful! And classy. :)

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