The invention of printing made private ownership of many books possible. Frequently, owners identified their personal collections with labels which read ex libris ("from the library of"). Artists were soon commissioned to create bookplates which might include symbols, accessories, or armorial crests reflecting the owners' status, vocation or interests.
The Library's bookplate collection contains plates commissioned by Jewish owners or executed by Jewish graphic artists. Many artistic techniques are represented: etchings, wood and copper engravings, woodcuts, lithographs, and scissor cuts.
The books owner's might have been famous or not-so-famous, but they shared a love of their books. The bookplates below belonged to Albert Einstein, Alfred Einstein, Martin Buber, and E.M. Lilien. The final two belonged to the Birnholz family. They reflect Marco Birnholz's profession as a pharmacist, his various hobbies, and his family name, which means "pear tree." He commissioned bookplates for his wife, his daughters, and his sisters -- over three-hundred-fifty in all!
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A broadside is a sheet printed on one side. It may be a poster, a handbill, or a sign. Because broadsides often reflect current events and are rarely consciously composed for the purpose of recording history, they can be important primary historical sources. Broadsides of Jewish interest appear in many languages and cover a wide range of subjects. The Library's collection of some 10,000 broadsides includes notices to the community, prayers, eulogies, poems honoring a marriage or other special occasion, theater posters, and governmental announcements.