Book Trade Labels
I love books. I need to be surrounded by them - working in a bindery helps. Is it the smell of books? The stories, the history, what is it about books that makes me happy?. I collect Polar Exploration books. I like to say I “collect” as opposed to “buy” books, it seems more orderly, more of a vocation than a task, close to the secret works of librarians.
Some of the books I’ve acquired over the years have “Trade Labels” and “Prize Labels” pasted inside.
Prize Labels are usually close to the size of the book itself and signify excellent attendance or other student accomplishments and usually have a handwritten name and date. I don’t particularly look for these labels, I actually try to avoid them, but some of the books in my collection only come along once and a while and I buy them regardless of owner signatures, labels or what ever else.
These labels are from some of my books:
Trade Labels are a little more unique. They are generally smaller than Prize Labels and were used as advertising for publishers, dealers and binders. Again, the labels are usually deemed a nuisance, but the folks over at the Seven Roads Bookstore see the inherent beauty and history of these labels and created an online gallery. The images are from all over the world, and the gallery contains more than 2,100 labels!
This collection began with labels found in our own books, but now it is mainly a virtual collection — each entry is digitally scanned from books found in the excellent research library to which we repair in our spare time. We must admit to having gone from “coming across” the labels in our book-browsing to actually searching for them.
The collection will continue to grow, with new accessions displayed on this page around the first of each month. We have also begun to research the characters and institutions behind each of these labels — and there are some great stories! Look for these in the weeks to come.
I can’t help but get that “collector” feeling while looking at these labels. It makes me want to look through all my books to find more. Usually I cringe when I find then but now it’ll be like a little surprise and I’ll have to let the sevenroads folks know!