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2004-12, 343, 344, Bookmarks, Jurgen Wegner


THE FOLLOWING two items are belated footnotes to my article Bookmark (Biblionews, 26 (2001) 3, pp91-101). For those interested in this subject, a revised and expanded version was published as Mark that book! in ARLIS/ANZ journal, (December 2002) 54, pp11-16.

In the further reading list appended I included E-Günther Rehse’s Lesezeichen (Itzehoe, Germany: Verlag Beruf und Schule, 1994). I had the good fortune to recently see a copy of this book, which is also still in print. A large format book, it is almost totally comprised of black and white reproductions, chiefly of German bookmarkers. Disappointingly so, but not altogether unexpected. They cover all manner of bookmarkers from fabric to paper including celluloid, ivory, pressed flowers, parchment, timber, bookmarkers with attached ribbons, &c, &c. Also of bookmarkers fulfilling secondary functions. Descriptions of the 322 items illustrated are given at the rear of the book.

Of greater interest are his all too brief historical notes on bookmarkers. Here are included illustrations of chiefly mediæval bookmarkers such as several ornamental fabric bookmarkers taken from volumes of 14th and 15th century manuscripts, tentacle [i.e. forceps, pincers, nippers. L. tenaculum holder] bookmarkers from ca 1436 and ca 1500, and a number of 18th century coloured painted bookmarkers. The most interesting examples illustrated come from volumes of 13th and 15th century manuscripts showing an unusual method of keeping one’s place in a book. This is by means of a parchment disc attached to the book by a linen thread. The purpose of the thread is not just to mark your page. Its attached moveable parchment disk is marked with Roman numerals by which you can indicate which paragraph or chapter you are up to. This disc slides up and down the string allowing you to also remember which line you were reading! No copy of Rehse’s book seems to be held by an Australian library.

A second footnote comes thanks to a friend of mine. Unpacking a book order he was surprised to find one additional unordered book sent as a gift. The book contained a bookmarker explaining its purpose, the reason for the gift, and where to find further information on this book. It is all part of an unusual project designed to recirculate unwanted or superfluous (but not unloved) books called BookCrossing. “Read and release!!!” proclaims the bookmarker. “Register books at <http://www.bookcrossing.com/>www.bookcrossing.com and leave them in public places for others to find and enjoy”. The BookCrossing website provides the 3 ‘Rs’ of BookCrossing: Read, Register, Release. “Track your books as they [sic] travel the world! Free books = Good Karma”.

A global, virtual book fair? Or just another US fad? It is interesting how such a small slip of paper can open up a portal to a whole new system of distributing, reading and circulating books.

Jürgen Wegner, Librarian. 29 January 2004



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