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Friday, November 9, 2012

A bookplate for Alfred Sutro of California


A few posts back (San Francisco book shop labels), I referenced a bookplate I had in a book that belonged to Alfred Sutro. While that's true, the reference doesn't hold up. I had the wrong Alfred Sutro it turns out:
The author dedicated this book to his friend, Alfred Sutro, whose leather bookplate I have in a copy of Byways in Bookland, by James Westfall Thompson
The author was John Drinkwater and he dedicated his 1933 book, Laying the Devil, to Alfred Sutro. Upon further investigation into Sutro's connection to Drinkwater, I discovered this Alfred Sutro was from England, not California as was the Alfred Sutro whose bookplate I have. Two book-world Alfred Sutros across the pond from each other... Who'd a thunk? Not me, obviously.

Drinkwater's Alfred Sutro (1863-1933) was a respected playwright, while The Alfred Sutro (1869-1945) I had in mind was a San Francisco attorney and avid bibliophile, who served as President of the Book Club of California.

The book I am pleased to have in my Books-about-Books collection is a signed copy of Byways in Bookland, by James Westfall Thompson, published by the the Book Arts Club of the University of California in Berkeley, 1935.



This bookplate is small (1 by 1.25 inches) and somewhat simplistic in design--his name inside a scroll border, both in gold, upon black leather. An apparent earlier version of Sutro's bookplate is found on the Bookplate Junkie's blog and reveals a more elaborate design.

Lest you think Mr. Sutro's taste in literature was confined to books about books, I refer to you to a more salacious selection found on Booktryst, where Alastair Johnston has written an interesting article about bookplates and associations between their designs and owners. There is also a cautionary note about which books one may wish to claim ownership with a bookplate. Click the Booktryst link above and scroll to the bottom to view another book from Alfred Sutro's library that certainly helped diversify his collection.

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