Bookplates in the Canon Jenkins bequest

Portrait – Copy

Canon Jenkins

Claude Jenkins (1877-1959) was a historian, librarian and Canon of Christ Church in Oxford.  The first choice of books from his extensive personal library was given to St Anne's College in 1959 and today forms a distinct collection in Hartland House Library.

An earlier blog post exploring the bequest in more detail is available to read here.

Many of his books came from second hand bookshops and there are consequently lots of interesting ownership marks and bookplates. 

This post has been created to accompany a physical exhibition in the Library, running from February 2021, which showcases some of the more interesting plates.

Armorial Henrys

The most common style of plate among the Jenkins books are those with an armorial design.  These typically feature a coat of arms, motto and the name of the owner.  So numerous are these plates that we can display here a short selection made up of only those whose owner’s name was Henry.

RH & AF New

The Artist

This book bears the pencilled in name of its first owner, Edmund H[ort] New, a prolific artist and draughtsman who produced a series of views of Oxford and many bookplates over his career.

The bookplate is interesting in that the image is signed EHN in the bottom left but the overall style and font are not as accomplished as New's many other plates (see this blog post for one example). 

The likely explanation is that RH New (Edmund's nephew) and his wife used one of Edmund's drawings to design their own plate after his death.

Arms in Arms

Alexander Nairne was Canon of Windsor and Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.  The plates here are interesting for showing the evolution of style from the formality of the 19th Century heraldic to a softer more stylised 20th Century plate. 

In his married bookplate (to Ethel Edwards) we can see that ‘Spes Ultra’ is retained but the device has been divided ‘party per pale‘ with Ethel’s.

Wilfrid Mathieson


Many book owners must have taken joy in commissioning and pasting in their bookplates but others never lived to see them.  This plate is an unusual combination of memorial and functional.  Wilfrid Mathieson commemorates his father Frederic Coxhead Mathieson in an extraordinarily detailed design drawn in 1904 and engraved the following year.


Books that have changed hands several times over their lifetime can end up with quite a collection of ownership marks and bookplates.

Some owners might choose to remove an older plate or stick their own over the previous owner’s.  In these images, the new plate has been added alongside and the treatment is a great aid to provenance research.


Some estates are auctioned off or end up in second-hand book shops but other books are given as gifts while the original owner still lives. 

The plates below are usefully inscribed with presentation messages from their previous owners.  Sybil Asshrton-Smith’s striking red and black bookplate has been given to “Evelyn G. M. Morgan[?], while C. W. Dilke’s is presented to “Mr Fortescue”.  The latter’s bold heraldic design is pasted onto the opposite page.

Tunbridge Wells

Jenkins frequently holidayed in Tunbridge Wells and carried on with his voracious book buying in the second hand book shops.  In fact, it was there that he died while on holiday in January 1959.

These plates from the library and literary society are good examples of how books from the area entered his collection.

This exhibition was curated by Duncan Jones, Reader Services Librarian.