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The Collation

Identifying a leather bookplate

As became clear in the robust conversation around this month’s crocodile mystery, what we’re looking at is a leather bookplate—a circular, good-tooled leather bookplate stamped with the initials “E. H.” and a rose. While the object itself might have been easy to recognize, working out what the specifics of it were revealing was a bit harder. As Erin noted, the bookplate looked as if it had been cut down from a larger piece, leaving jagged edges rather than the smooth circle one might expect from a die-cut bookplate. On the other hand, the other books bearing this bookplate at the Folger show the same jaggedness. Whoever used this bookplate clearly had a number of them made, but also appears to have had them cut down to size.

On the left, the original bookplate for the crocodile mystery (144- 489q); on the right, another example of the same bookplate (STC 11905)

On the left, the bookplate used for the crocodile mystery (from 144- 489q); on the right, another example of the same bookplate (STC 11905) (click this and other images to enlarge)

So, who is this EH? I came across this bookplate when a student was working on a book with it, and there was no indication of who it belonged to in our records. But it got under my skin—I was certain that since we had others with that mark, and since it was clearly not an inexpensive bookplate, it had to be connected with an owner that could be traced. And so I began what was (in retrospect) a slightly roundabout way of working out who it was. 

  1. There’s a brief entry for Hailstone in the DNB (Jack Morrell, “Hailstone, Samuel (1767–1851),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 [, accessed 9 July 2014]), and a longer one in James Raines’s A Catalogue of the Printed Books in the Library of the Dean and Chapter of York (Cambridge UP, 2013).


Thanks for the sleuthing! Soon, those Hamnet records will be updated with “former owner” links. I’m happy to report that the National Library of Medicine created an LC Name Authority Record for Edward Hailstone back in December 2001,, so that part of the work is already done. (For the cataloging geeks out there: I know it was December 2001 because of the first six digits of the record number, and I know where it was created because the MARC encoded version of that record has the line “040 __ |a DNLM” — “D” for “District of Columbia” and “NLM” for National Library of Medicine. Folger-created records are identified as “DFo”)

Also, I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me sooner: the bookplate is the size and shape of a Hailstone.

Erin Blake — July 9, 2014


Lol, nice online detective work, Sarah! My Google skills are no match for you. 😛

Michelle — July 9, 2014


Great sleuthing! But there’s another mystery — why is EH’s name on the larger plate spelled Edward Hailctone, instead of Hailstone?

(If you search “Edward Hailctone” there are several hundred references to the bookplate.)

Farley Katz — July 18, 2014


A wild guess, but perhaps he purchased the bookplates, started using them, but didn’t notice the typo for a while. Once he did, perhaps he ordered the hailstone-sized ones, and left the armorial ones in place? Pure supposition on my part.

(At least Google knows who’s who; when I searched for “Edward Hailctone”, it helpfully asked, “Did you mean EDWARD HAILSTONE?”)

Matt Bogen — July 23, 2014


I suppose the only explanation that makes sense is plain mistake. I was thinking that maybe ctone was celtic or something for stone. 😉 But there are a lot of this larger bookplate around so EH must have used it for many books either not noticing the mistake or noticing and not bothering to have them reprinted. You’d think that he’d notice that his own name was misspelled on this emblem of vanity.

Farley Katz — July 23, 2014


I was trying to envision Hailctone as some kind of ‘traditional’ spelling, too, but can’t see it. I like that his authority record includes a cross-reference from “Hailctone, Edward,” just in case:

Erin Blake — July 24, 2014


From the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 24
HAILSTONE, SAMUEL (1768–1851), botanist, was born at Hoxton, near London, in 1768. His family shortly afterwards settled in York. He was articled to John Hardy, a solicitor at Bradford, grandfather of the present Lord Cranbrook. On the expiration of his articles Hardy took him into partnership. The scanty leisure of a busy professional life was devoted to botany, and Hailstone became known as the leading authority on the flora of Yorkahire. He formed collections illustrating the geology of the district, and of books and manuscipts relating to Bradford. He contributed papers to the ‘Magazine of Natural History’ (1835, viii. 261-5, 549-53), and a list of rare plants to Whitaker’s ‘History of Craven’ (1812, pp. 509-19). His valuable herbarium was presented by his sons to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, and is now in the museum at York. His brother was the Rev. John Hailstone [q. v.], the geologist. He married in 1808 Ann, daughter of Thomas Jones, surgeon, of Bradford. His wife died in 1833, aged 53. He died at Horton Hall, Bradford, on 26 Dec. 1851, aged 83, leaving two sons, John, a clergyman, and Edward, who is noticed below.

Edward Hailstone (1818–1890) succeeded his father as solicitor at Bradford, and finally retired to Walton Hall, near Wakefield, where he accumulated a remarkable collection of antiquities and books, among them the most extensive series of works relating to Yorkshire ever brought together, which has been left to the library of the dean and chapter, York. Edward Hailstone died at Walton 24 March 1890 in his seventy-third year. He printed a catalogue of his Yorkshire library in 1858, and published ‘Portraits of Yorkshire Worthies, with biographical notices,’ 1869, 2 vols. 4to.

[Bradford Observer, 1 Jan. 1852; Times 27 March 1890; Athenæum, 5 April 1890, p. 444.]

Michael Cooke — July 24, 2014


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