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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Albert Clayburgh's bookplate

My bookplate collection is small and I have not yet acquired a celebrity bookplate, so to speak. But I may have one that is an indirect brush with celebrity.


Here is an ornate bookplate designed in 1933 by W.E. Osborne (of whom no information) for an Albert Clayburgh with the motto, KEEP THE OPEN MIND. But which Albert Clayburgh?



As I keep an open mind about who this might be, my research keeps turning up two Albert Clayburghs--both prominent citizens of New York City in their respective days. And I have come to believe that this Albert of the ex libris is the father of actress Jill Clayburgh. I hope so because I have always liked Jill Clayburgh since first seeing her on the big screen in Silver Streak.

I found this particular bookplate while going through the same batch of bookplates that produced the engraving of the Hogarth crest (later determined not to be a bookplate), which I wrote about HERE. I found Albert Clayburgh's bookplate and for some reason immediately thought of Jill Clayburgh. Too much of a longshot was my next thought, but as I researched Albert Clayburgh, only a few Alberts kept showing up in the results. Both were in New York and both were successful businessmen. And one of them was indeed the father of Jill Clayburgh.

One Albert was a wealthy businessman, a cotton converter, according to this article, which names him as the plaintiff in a divorce from Alma Clayburgh. He was dubbed by some in the press as the "Cotton King." As for the other Albert Clayburgh, his career was steeped in the book trades, as this American Archaeological Institute synopsis of an annual lecture for the Princeton Society states:
"....a distinguished sixty-five year career in book production, representing a company that distributed the highest quality bookbinding cloths. Bill came to be synonymous with this facet of the business."

"...active in many trade associations related to his publishing career such as the Typophiles, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Book Manufacturers Institute and the Bookbinders Guild. At the same time, Bill supported and actively pursued cultural interests in literature, the theatre, opera, and ballet."
From his alma mater, Princeton, this 1997 memorial makes the connection to Jill Clayburgh.

Further research turned up a family tree that shows Albert Clayburgh, Jr. (the "Cotton King") as Albert H. "Bill" Clayburgh's father and, therefore, Jill Clayburgh's grandfather.

From all this, I would conclude that Jill Clayburgh's father, a bibliophile and book arts businessman, was the likelier, of the two Albert Clayburghs I found, to have owned this bookplate. Further, the date of the bookplate is 1933, a few years after Clayburgh was graduated from Princeton. The timing was right for a young bookman starting out in the business to have his own bookplate, or upgrade from an existing one.

Of course, keeping an open mind about this, I would welcome my assumptions being either corroborated or disproved by a reputable authority on the subject (Ms. Clayburgh, are you reading this?).

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