Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Wekend 2013

I was thinking about writing something for Memorial Day when this touching story was forwarded to me by my brother.

The 21-year old American B-17 pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision. "My God, this is a nightmare," the co-pilot said. "He's going to destroy us," the pilot agreed.
The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.

                                                          this video
Brown's Crippled B-17 Stalked by Stigler's ME-109
The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone, struggling to stay in the skies above Germany . Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.
But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer "Pinky" Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn't pull the trigger. He stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect. Instead of pressing the attack, he nodded at Brown and saluted. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War II.

                                                          Brown was on
                                                          his first
                                                          combat mission
                                                          during World
                                                          War II when he
                                                          met an enemy
                                                          unlike any
USAAF Lt. Charles Brown
Charles Brown was on his first combat mission during World War II when he met an enemy unlike any other.
Revenge, not honor, is what drove 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler to jump into his fighter that chilly December day in 1943. Stigler wasn't just any fighter pilot. He was an ace. One more kill and he would win The Knight's Cross, German's highest award for valor.
Yet Stigler was driven by something deeper than glory. His older brother, August, was a fellow Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed earlier in the war. American pilots had killed Stigler's comrades and were bombing his country's cities.Stigler was standing near his fighter on a German airbase when he heard a bomber's engine. Looking up, he saw a B-17 flying so low it looked like it was going to land. As the bomber disappeared behind some trees, Stigler tossed his cigarette aside, saluted a ground crewman and took off in pursuit.
As Stigler's fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at him.
He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood. Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber. Its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns knocked out. One propeller wasn' turning. Smoke trailed from another engine. He could see men huddled inside the shattered plane tending the wounds of other crewmen.
Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber's wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror.

                                                          wondered for
                                                          years what
                                                          happened to
                                                          the American
                                                          pilot he
                                                          encountered in
Luftwaffe Major Franz Stigler
Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn't shoot. It would be murder.
Stigler wasn't just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his family's ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe . He had once studied to be a priest. A German pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.
Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him: "You follow the rules of war for you -- not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity."
Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn't shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany .
"Good luck," Stigler said to himself. "You're in God's hands now..." Franz Stigler didn't think the big B-17 could make it back to England and wondered for years what happened to the American pilot and crew he encountered in combat.

                                                          Brown, with
                                                          his wife,
                                                          Jackie (left),
                                                          found peace
                                                          after his
                                                          reunion with
                                                          Franz Stigler,
                                                          with his wife,
Charles Brown, with his wife, Jackie (left), with Franz Stigler, with his wife, Hiya.
As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn't thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival. He flew his crippled plane, filled with wounded, back to his base in England and landed with one of four engines knocked out, one failing and barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.
Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida .
Late in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.
Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life? He scoured military archives in the U.S. and England . He attended a pilots' reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an ad in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.
On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read: "Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to that B-17, did she make it home? Did her crew survive their wounds? To hear of your survival has filled me with indescribable joy..."
It was Stigler.
He had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver , British Columbia , in 1953. He became a prosperous businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and "it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter." Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn't wait to see Stigler. He called directory assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.
"My God, it's you!" Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks. Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said: "To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crew members and their families appears totally inadequate."
One of Brown's friends was there to record the summer reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They fell into each other' arms and wept and laughed. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.
The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English: "I love you, Charlie."
Stigler had lost his brother, his friends and his country. He was virtually exiled by his countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German air force. Only 1,200 survived.

The war cost him everything. Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz. It was the one thing he could be proud of. The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.

They met
                                                          as enemies but
                                                          Franz Stigler,
                                                          on left, and
                                                          Charles Brown,
                                                          ended up as
They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left, and Charles Brown, ended up as fishing buddies.
Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans' reunions. Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.
Brown's daughter says her father would worry about Stigler's health and constantly check in on him.
"It wasn't just for show," she says. "They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week." As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says "The nightmares went away."
Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a guest of honor.
During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived -- children, grandchildren, relatives -- because of Stigler's act of chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his seat of honor.
"Everybody was crying, not just him," Warner says.
Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then something more.
After he died, Warner was searching through Brown's library when she came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.
Warner opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Brown:
In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December, 4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction,
a plane so badly damaged it was a wonder that she was still flying.
The pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me as precious as my brother was.

Thanks Charlie.

Your Brother, Franz

See You Again Next Sunday

Thursday, May 23, 2013

This Week In Bookplates 5/23/2013

     This very unusual bit of bookplate ephemera arrived recently and I am just starting to do some research.
The framed group of five leather bookplates was used by Charles J. Sawyer Ltd , booksellers and fine art dealers.
The Red bookplate is for R.Esmerian who I suspect might be the collector Raphael Esmerian,
The next bookplate is nameless.
The small brown bookplate in the center is for Marten
The blue bookplate is nameless.
The larger brown bookplate is for Alfred B. Koch
The prices on the back are difficult to read from the scan.
“Cost of blocks from £20 to£40 according to design
Bookplates 1 S/6 d each for quantities”of not less than 50”*
*Note received from Anthony Pincott about this pricing-
“in other words at a pre-decimalisation (pre-1971) price of 1 shilling and sixpence each "

One Thing Leads To Another #1

While I was trying to find out if the names on the leather bookplates were for actual  owners I started to search the name R.Esmerian and stumbled upon a 2009 interview  with the noted bookseller John Windle.
Here is a link to the article .It is well written and fascinating. . I wish I had the movie rights to his  life story.

One Thing Leads To Another#2

Several weeks ago I posted the Gandy image shown above. It was and still is a mystery bookplate about which I would like to learn more.The image inspired Shaun in England and he sent me the following Email

I started to learn hand engraving within the last year,and am always looking for suitable images to engrave. Bookplates are ideal as a reference to learn how to achieve an effect,and came across your site.

There is an art from called a 'Love Token'. A coin is filed flat on one side,and an image engraved. The link is a pic of a Silver 1944 Walking Liberty silver 1/2 dollar. I used a bookplate image that had the Eagle and the words 'Gandy' from your site.

It's not exactly how I would have liked it to come out,but my ability improves with each coin I engrave and it went for $62 dollars on Ebay,but probably took 10 hours to engrave :) If  I ever do something similar,it might take just as long,but look much better.

The pics on your site are really good quality,thanks for taking the time and effort.
Cheers Shaun "


New Book about Paul Revere Written by Fellow Collector/Dealer Tom Boss

Paul Revere's Bookplate for John Gardiner of Gardiner's Island
By Thomas G. Boss

Printed letterpress in an edition of 50 copies by John Kristensen of
the Firefly Press in Boston. All copies have tipped in reproductions
of the John Gardiner bookplate and other Revere plates, including the
John Butler plate which is only known in two copies and which has
hitherto not been reproduced in print. The first fifteen deluxe copies
are printed on Zerkall handmade paper and are accompanied by an
original print of the Gardiner Revere plate, mounted in a gilt frame
but easily removable for placement elsewhere in a collection. All
copies of the work are hand bound in red wrappers. The thirty-five
regular copies are printed on Neenah Laid paper.

The text of the book comprises a short history of the Gardiner's and
Revere bookplates followed by a list of holdings of Revere plates and
a ranking of rarity of each one, ranging from no known copies to
thousands of examples!

Regular edition......$150
Deluxe Edition.......$3,500

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Bookplate Society's Summer Auction

I am very pleased to announce a special event from The Bookplate Society.

Send Bids or Questions to

Good luck with your bidding.

The Bookplate Society’s members’ auctions, three each year, offer a wide range of material, mostly British 18th and 19th century exlibris, but there are also Continental European and North American items. These sales are not open to non-members. Members either attend in person or bid in advance by email or post. However, the Society is doing something different this summer by holding an entirely web- and email-based auction, which on this occasion is open to non-members.
Given that this is a manual system, lacking the software resources of eBay, the auction is being drawn out over ten weekly cycles of bidding, and participants can only submit one set of bids per week. Bidders are encouraged to bid for as many items as possible on the first occasion, because in subsequent weeks there is a restriction on the number of additional bids that can be placed. There is a further bias helping people who bid early, because in the event of equal bids the earlier bidder wins the day. The deadline for the first round of bids is Sunday, 2 June (6pm BST) and this auction ends on Sunday 4 August 2013 (6pm BST).
To view the listings, go to , and if you wish to join in the auction you will need to read the notes and write to the auction address. Non-members of the Society must register their details prior to emailing bids.
This is an auction in slow-motion (!), but it will nevertheless be interesting to see how it works out. As the notes point out, this is not a commercial venture, but designed to offer bookplate collectors some summertime fun.


This bookplate of Morton and Helena Stephenson probably dates from about 1920. It is the work of Henry Justice Ford (1860–1941), portrait and landscape painter, also book illustrator. He has a short write-up in Wikipedia. Recourse to soon established that the owners of this bookplate were Morton F G Stephenson (born Kensington, London, 1884) and Marion Helena née Deverell (born in 1885, also in Kensington), and they were married in 1916 in Central London.

                                                                             Lot # 59

Matilda Constance Ismay (1877, New York -1963, England) was the sister-in-law of Bruce Ismay (1862-1939), chairman and managing director of the White Star Line. He attracted severe moral opprobrium and was ostracised after the Titanic disaster. Not only was he in no small part responsible for the lack of provision of lifeboats, but he was among the survivors, notwithstanding the loss of many women and children. Daughters of George Richard Schieffelin and Julia Matilda née Delaplaine, the two Schieffelin sisters, Matilda Constance Schieffelin and Julia Florence Schieffelin, married two Ismay brothers, Charles Bower Ismay (1874 - 1924) and Joseph Bruce Ismay. Matilda married Charles in New York in 1900. She is buried at Haselbech, near Kettering, Northamptonshire

                                                                                     Lot 44
Signed PB, the bookplate of Margaret Brudenell Bruce is the work of Pleasance Bruce, depicting St Margaret Virgin & Martyr, whose feast day is July 20. Margaret Renshaw m.1873 Lord Charles Frederick Brudenell-Bruce (1849-1936), brother to the Marquess of Ailesbury. Daughter of James Renshaw of Broughton, Lancashire, she d.1913.

Send Bids or Questions to

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Bookplate Art of Joe Dragunas

I am always pleased to promote young artists .Joe  Dragunas sent me some information about  his bookplate designs. I sent him a few questions  which he promptly answered.

"Hello Lew!
 Thank you so much for doing this. I love bookplates, and am on a fierce campaign to bring them back into the mainstream. "

Joe Dragunas in his studio

At what age did you decide to become an illustrator ?

 I have been drawing since I was able to hold a crayon, and have illustrated my entire life, but it wasn't until my early thirty's until I decided to do it professionally.

Do you have any formal art training ?

I have no art training whatsoever, I am a firm believer in self teaching. As an artist you should explore every technique and style before you choose a medium you want to dedicate yourself to. I believe you should observe and learn, make the mistakes on your own, and emerge on the other side with your own personal style.

What technique do you use for bookplates ?

 All the illustrations and bookplates on my website are all done with a brush and ink. I use a very fine, size 00 brush, and speedball ink. Unless there is a straight border, then I use a rapidograph technical pen, but as I said that's only for the borders.

Can you send me some jpeg examples of your favorites ?

As requested , here are some of my favorites. Many more examples can be seen at my website.
The website is set up so that you can actually order samples to touch feel and evaluate.

  The samples are all printed on high quality  acid free card stock, . I use a creamy color, to give an aged illusion.
.Here are some of my favorites:

                                                     Click on Images to Enlarge

The website has prices for individual bookplates .Do you have pricing for larger quantities ?

 Unfortunately, the website does not allow for ordering multiple copies,   My email address is on the site and I would be pleased to discuss pricing for multiple copies with anyone who contacts me.

Have you designed any custom bookplates?

 I would be absolutely ecstatic to design  a custom bookplate. All my current designs are for my own amusement. 

Have you designed any bookplates for yourself , friends or family?

 I just finished one for My sisters wedding. She and her husband wanted an image with both a dragon, and a goat. to represent their last names. . They are both architects, so I worked a few appropriate tools into the design as well.
Heraldic designs are my all time favorite, so I decided to do a knight's crest with a goat head as the crest, and a dragon sprawled through the mantling. On the shield, I included the words "from the library of the Kosikowski's, est 2013" . 
The whole image is 2.75 inches by 3.75 inches. 

See you again on Sunday.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Bookplate Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson

Under normal circumstances the Lloyd Osbourne bookplate  would not merit very much attention.
It is unique because of a collaboration between Robert Louis Stevenson and his stepson Lloyd Osbourne
As adults they collaborated on three novels.Their collaboration really started when RLS purchased a do it yourself  printing press for Lloyd when he was about thirteen years old. .RLS wrote poems and did wood cuts for Lloyd's Davos Press.The woodcut in Lloyd's bookplate was done by R.L.S.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Lloyd Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson

 Do it yourself printing presses were very popular boy's toys in the mid 19th and early 20th centuries.
 President Grant purchased one for his son Jessie, H. L. Mencken was given one at age eight in 1888 and
 Lloyd Osbourne was given one at age thirteen,.
A picture of the Davos press can be seen by following this   link to Textualities by Elaine Greig


I received the following inquiry from David Kesterson this week.

A friend sent photos of a book, "Crown of Wild Olive" by John Ruskin that was owned by his father. It is probably from a set published by Merriam, but what interests us is the metal cover. The design is quite precise, making me think it was stamped. But why? Was this a short-lived fad? Or some devoted arts & crafts artisan. Please feel free to publish if you find it interesting. I would really like to know more.

David Kesterson
Cameron Park Books
Raleigh, NC



Not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something; not in place.

This one  puzzles me. Perhaps a bookseller had some very fine reference books which customers kept trying to buy so he inserted this label in them..What do you think?
See you next week.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Some Links & Some Impulse Purchases

This link has nothing to do with books or bookplates apart from the fact that it came from Lee Kirk , a very competent book and ephemera dealer in Eugene Oregon.

 I think you will be be amazed .

Here is a link to Lee Kirk's website:

J J Lankes Bookplates , Prints and Ephemera

This link was sent to me by  Mary Helen Miskuly

Robert Day, Cartoonist

This four page theatre program appealed to me because of the cover illustration.

The artist Robert Day (1900-1985) was on the New Yorker  staff and contributed cartoons to that magazine for over 40 years


The $80.35 Funeral


I grew up in Brooklyn.

How could I not purchase these calling cards?


World War Two Ephemera

                                                                                                         Matchbook Cover

Mystery Ephemera Artist

Does anyone out there recognize the artist's cypher ? It appears to be FK .

See you again Next Week.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Special Edition-The Last Bookshop

I did not want to clutter this posting with anything else. This is The Last Bookshop

Follow the link below the picture

click here

See you again on Sunday