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History of the Bookmark


Ever since books began to be published the need for bookmarks was present. In the beginning, books were only published in limited amounts are were very valuable. It was important to be able to save the page in the book that one was reading, but at the same time keep the book in pristine condition. One did not want to leave the book open and laying facedown do to the fact that it would damage the spine. “Dog-earing” the pages wasn’t even an option, and I don’t believe is even a viable option today. Using a material that was too thick or something that would stain or damage the pages wasn’t an option either. Books needed to be protected and this is why bookmarks are so important.




One of the earliest known referenced to a bookmark was back in 1584. Queen Elizabeth’s printer, Christopher Barker, gave her a fringed silk bookmark. Christopher Barker was very important in the business of books and knew the importance of the bookmark. In 1577, he was able to acquire the patent that gave him the sole right to print the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.



During the 18th and 19th centuries, narrow silk bookmarks were bound into the book. These attached bookmarks came out of the top of the book at the spine and could be inserted into the page. It would extend past the bottom of the page so that it was easy to open up the book to the correct page without leafing through trying to find it.



The types of bookmarks that we know today started showing up around the mid-1800’s. They were first made from silk and other types of embroidered fabrics. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that paper began to be used.


Today’s bookmarks are made from all types of material from paper, plastic, metals, leather to fabrics. Whatever type of material you prefer to use, you know the importance of the bookmark. They can be purchased will all types of photos, sayings, cartoon characters, TV and movie references. It is fun to choose a design that coincides with the book itself. I prefer to use a new bookmark for each book that I read. I have had the pleasure of reading many books during my life. It is fun to go back and look at the bookmarks that I have used and remember the time that I read the book. I came across an old bookmark the other day of Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock and that made me laugh.


Today, bookmarks are highly collectible and can be quite valuable. Check to see what you have lying around. You might be surprised at what you find.

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