BOOK OF THE DUCHESS. The title of a poem by Chaucer, written to console John of Gaunt for the loss of his Duchess in 1369. It is conventional, artificial, imitative, and is drawn from Machault's Dit du lion and Dit de lu fontainc amoureuse.
A typographical or picto rial label, used to denote the ownership of a hook. Book-plates are considered to have had their origin in Germany; though an unsupported claim has been made that they were used in Japan in the Tenth Century. and certain small clay tablets are believed to have performed in Babylonia and Assyria an office similar to that of the book-plate of to-day. The earliest printed book-plate we know to-day was used about 1480. It is a hand-colored heraldic design, and recorded a gift of books and manuscripts to the Car thusian monastery of Bnxheim in Swabia. Until Albrecht Dtirer gave his attention to the design ing and engraving of book-plates, they were rude utterly lacking artistic form. Diirer is sometimes called 'the father of hook-plates,' because under his hand they became works of art. Several undoubted book-plates of his work manship are known. The earliest of these bear ing a date (1516) was the property of Hieronz,- Inns Ebner of Nuremberg. Diirer made a book plate for Bilibald Pirckheimer of the same city which is believed to be earlier than 1503. Among the famous early German artists who engraved hook-plates on wood or copper were Lucas Cranach, Hans Holbein, Jost Amman, and Virgil Solis. In the Eighteenth Century Daniel Chodo wiecki engraved several very charming designs. Ever since Diirer put his impress upon them, the ornamentation of book-plates has been an im portant feature, and while their first purpose is to indicate the ownership of the book in which they are pasted or bound, they may, by perfection of design and execution, give pleasure as works of art. Allegory, quotations from the classics. the name of the owner, and his coat of arms are the prominent and customary features.
From Germany the use of the book-plate spread to France, and finally to all Continental coun tries. There is considerable similarity between the early book-plates of Germany and France, but the former are more numerous. The French
engravers, as time went on, tended to over ornament their designs, and the later examples suffer a great loss of dignity for which the deli cacy and exquisiteness of their workmanship is no compensation. There are a few very charming bits by such artists as Collin. Durand, and Eisen.
England was apparently a little slow in adopt ing the book-plate, as her first ones seem to have been made toward the end of the Sixteenth Cen tury; but once fairly started, the idea spread rapidly, with the result of making English book plates outnumber those of all other countries. Up to the beginning of the Eighteenth Century most English book-plates arc in tho style known, by the universally accepted nomenclature of War ren, as early armorial. This shows the coat of arms and the name and motto of the owner, with surrounding foliations originally intended to represent the slashed mantle of the helmet. The Jacobean style, extending approximately from 1700 to 1750, is very formal and heavy; its ornamentation resembles carved wood, and the right and left sides of the design usually coin cide with precision. About 1750 came in the Chippendale style, so called from the well-known designer and upholsterer of furniture. Light, graceful effects took the place of the sombre designs; fruit and flowers, even pictures of mead ows and streams with shepherdesses and were introduced. This was succeeded by the ribbon and wreath style, whose simple, chaste manner well expressed contemporaneous changes of manners and forms. At a date difficult to give, but toward the middle of the Eighteenth Century, bookmen and engravers began to show more individuality in their book-plate designs; the portrait and the pictorial plate came in; li brary interiors and many allusions to classical allegory and to the feats of arms or peaceful pleasures of the owners are frequently found; while landscapes and rivers, castles and ruined abbeys contribute to the variety of the pictured scenes. Such names as Hogarth. Marshall, Vet. tue, Bartolozzi. and Bewick are signed on Eng lish book-plates.