J. J. Lankes bookplate collection
Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
J. J. [Julius John] Lankes was born on August 31, 1884, in Buffalo, New York. Freelance artist, book illustrator, teacher, and master woodworker, he is the author of A Woodcut Manual (1932). He died in Durham, North Carolina, on April 22, 1960. For a complete chronology, including his artistic collaborations, see Welford Dunaway Taylor’s The Woodcut Art of J.J. Lankes. (Boston: David R. Godine, 1999).
Although best known as an artist, Lankes began his career as a laborer, first in a factory and then in a patent office. He attended the Buffalo Commercial and Electro-mechanical Institute, where he graduated as Junior Engineer in 1902. While working as freelance artist, in 1905 and 1907, he enrolled in two International Correspondence School art courses. He continued to freelance for much of his career, earning only a modest income from his art. From 1912 to 1913, he attended the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston.
In 1914, he married Edee Maria Bartlett. He had four children: Julius Bartlett (b.1915), John Mosely (b.1917), Emily Elizabeth (b.1921), and Elizabeth Bartlett (b.1924). From 1915 to 1922, he worked as a draftsman for Newton Arms, a rifle manufacturer in Buffalo, and later as a carpenter for National Aniline & Chemical. After a brief trip to Europe, he moved to Hilton Head, Virginia in 1925. In 1929, he illustrated Robert Frost’s West-Running Brook. From 1932 to 1939, he taught at Wells College in Aurora, New York. In 1951, he moved to Durham, North Carolina. Primarily a wood engraver, his subjects were drawn mostly from rural life. In 1952, he was elected to the National Academy of Design.
For a complete chronology, including his artistic collaborations, see Welford Dunaway Taylor’s The Woodcut Art of J.J. Lankes.
Taylor, Welford Dunaway. The Woodcut Art of J. J. Lankes. Boston: David R. Godine, 1999.
The J. J. Lankes bookplate collection contains 47 bookplates created by Lankes between 1920 and 1940 and a undated promotional circular. Additionally the collection includes copies of letters written by J. J. Lankes's to artist Burl Neff Osburn, copies of artwork by Lankes and Osburn, and two lists of bookplates for sale by Stanley O. Bezanson.
Comprising the first series, the Lankes bookplates are organized numerically by the numbers which Lankes inscribed on the lower corner of each item. The numbers correspond to Lankes’s own numbering system, organized chiefly in his “Woodcut Record” and described in more detail in Welford Dunaway Taylor’s The Woodcut Art of J.J. Lankes. The record contains 1,242 entries, organized by date of execution.
Where relevant, Osburn numbers, corresponding to Burl N. Osburn’s A Descriptive Checklist of the Woodcut Bookplates of J. J. Lankes (Millersville, PA: Serif Press, 1937) are also given. Several items are signed and dated by Lankes, in one instance contradicting Osburn.
Included in the collection are a number of bookplates not listed in the checklist. The promotional circular, written by Lankes and titled simply "Woodcut Bookplates," describes Lankes’s services, and reproduces three bookplates, including a man on a sailboat for Peggy Bannerman, not included elsewhere in the collection. The circular also mentions Osburn’s checklist and recommends Lankes’s Woodcut Manual, which includes a chapter on bookplates.
The terms woodcut and wood engraving describe two related relief processes – the chief difference being between the artist's preferences to work on the side or end grain of the block, respectively. Lankes's preference appears to be for engraving. In the promotional circular, he states: "When I get a commission for a bookplate ... I develop the idea into a design, copy it in reverse on a woodblock and engrave it so that any good printer can run off all the impressions desired." The delicate line work and fine detail characteristic of Lankes, here executed on small blocks, are better suited to engraving; woodcuts tend also to reveal the grain of the block when printed as the ink is absorbed into the wood. Although Lankes's principal medium was wood, several designs have also been reproduced photo-mechanically on zinc plates, perhaps for wider distribution or in absence of the original blocks.
The second series consists of photocopies of letters written by J. J. Lankes to Burl Neff Osburn. The letters were copied from images on a recordable compact disk which was donated by Osburn's family. The disk also included images of bookplates and artwork created by J. J. Lankes, Burl Neff Osburn, and other bookplate artists, as well as artwork by Neil Osburn. Photocopies of these images are also available in the collection.
Finally, the collection includes two printed lists of bookplates which are for sale from Stanley O. Bezanson.
Processed by Anita Wellner, July 2008.
Encoded by Anita Wellner, July 2008.
- Lankes, Julius J., 1884-1960
- Osburn, Burl N. (Burl Neff), 1896-1962
- Osburn, Neil
- Bezanson, Stanley O.
- Nash, Ray, 1905-1982
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2008 July 30
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
The J. J. Lankes bookplate collection contains 47 bookplates created by Lankes between 1920 and 1940 and a undated promotional leaflet. The bookplates are organized numerically by the numbers which Lankes inscribed on the lower corner of each item. The numbers correspond to Lankes’s own numbering system, organized chiefly in his “Woodcut Record.” Where relevant, "Osburn numbers," corresponding to Burl N. Osburn’s A Descriptive Checklist of the Woodcut Bookplates of J. J. Lankes follow the Lankes number. Some of descriptive information in the note field was gathered from Osburn's book. For example when an item is listed as "discarded," this information was derived from Osburn's list and indicates that the design was discarded by Lankes.Physical Description
J.B.L. design, zinc etching
Lankes 0091, Osburn 13Physical Description
Rooster, zinc etching, signed
Lankes 0101, Osburn 20Physical Description
Book and candle, signed
Lankes 0104, Osburn 10Physical Description
Flowers, snail, and book
Lankes 0105, Osburn 9Physical Description
Architectural design by owner, two colors, 3 prints (1 rubbing, 1 black & white, and 1 two-color print)
Lankes 0395, Osburn 43Physical Description
Portrait in form of mask, "No. 2," signed
Lankes 0435, Osburn 44Physical Description
Landscape with Lombardy poplar, signed, "No. 1," and dated “1926”
Lankes 0472, Osburn 47Physical Description
Old tree and road, "No.1," signed
Lankes 0549, Osburn 52Physical Description
Mask, Carolina Playmakers, signed, "No. 3"
Lankes 0552, Osburn 54Physical Description
Nude woman holding initials “S.A.”; "No. 2," signed
Lankes 0584, Osburn 57Physical Description
Mountain scene, variant of O-38, "No. 2," signed
Lankes 0585, Osburn 58Physical Description
Childish dancing girl, designed by the owner’s daughter, signed
Lankes 0587, Osburn 59Physical Description
Oak tree and rail fence
Lankes 0619, Osburn 60Physical Description
Airplane of sheaf of wheat and motto; "No. 3," signed
Lankes 0673, Osburn 61Physical Description
Hawthorne tree, stone wall, and hills; "No. 4," signed
Lankes 0700, Osburn 62Physical Description
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou
Lankes 0702Physical Description
Nude female rider on mythical beast
Lankes 0703Physical Description
2 prints, nude woman resting on moon with book. One plate with no name, the second includes "Harold G. Carlson" and has a note by Lankes: "1st imp. with name, Dec 15, 1939."
Lankes 0705Physical Description
Man and girl on river bank with boat, signed
Lankes 0748, Osburn 63Physical Description
Lankes 0750, Osburn 64Physical Description
Bittersweet in vase
Lankes 0757, Osburn 66Physical Description
Vermont elm tree, signed
Lankes 0758, Osburn 67Physical Description
Dam, "No. 1," signed
Lankes 0759, Osburn 68Physical Description
Harp-like cedar tree, "No. 3," signed
Lankes 0786, Osburn 69Physical Description
Dog barking at owl on book pile, signed
Lankes 0788, Osburn 70Physical Description
Lankes 0822, Osburn 74Physical Description
Lankes 0823, Osburn 73Physical Description
Pianist, Geiseking at Wells College
Lankes 0845, Osburn 76Physical Description
College girl’s head
Lankes 0848, Osburn 77Physical Description
Candle and books, signed
Lankes 0865, Osburn 79Physical Description
Lombardy tree and field
Lankes 0892, Osburn 88Physical Description
Lombardy poplar, landscape with church, signed
Lankes 0911, Osburn 92Physical Description
Vermont winter landscape, zinc etching
Lankes 0913, Osburn 95Physical Description
Kneeling nude woman with frog
Lankes 0948Physical Description
Lankes 0949Physical Description
Lankes 0982Physical Description
Crowd inspecting prints in street
Lankes 1024Physical Description
Lankes 1030Physical Description
Sailboat and mountain scene
Lankes 1034Physical Description
Tree and clouds
Lankes 1037Physical Description
Tree near water
Lankes 1047Physical Description
Ship at sea
Lankes 1048Physical Description
Lighthouse, 2 prints
Lankes 1051Physical Description
Tree in circle, with note "rubbing"
Lankes 1057Physical Description
An promotional circular written by Lankes to advertise his bookplate business, includes bookplates Paul’s book, Marion Douglas, and Peggy Bannerman.
Consists of photocopies of letters written by J. J. Lankes to Burl Neff Osburn. The letters were copied from images on a recordable compact disk which was donated by Neil Osburn family. The disk also included images of bookplates and artwork created by J. J. Lankes, Burl Neff Osburn, and other bookplate artists as well as artwork by Neil Osburn. Photocopies of these images are also available in the collection.Physical Description
A compact disk with files of images of letters and artwork.Physical Description
Photocopies, including two letters from Ray Nash in 1960, one of which mentions Lankes's death.
Photocopies of bookplates created by various bookplate artists.
Photocopies of bookplates created by J. J. Lankes
Photocopies of artwork created by Burl Neff Osburn.
Photocopies of artwork created by Neil Osburn.
Two printed lists of bookplates which are for sale by Stanley O. BezansonPhysical Description
Two printed lists of bookplates which are for sale by Stanley O. BezansonPhysical Description