Ex libris, or bookplates, are placards inscribed with the name of a tome’s owner and affixed to the inside of its cover. Ex libris establish some amount of provenance — a clue into the history of a book’s possession. The art decorating bookplates is often heraldic, fantastic, ornate, and gorgeous. This collection is comprised mostly of plates created in Europe during the 17th & 18th centuries.
Gallery of Bones
For a Swarm of Bees
Sitte ge, sīgewīf,
sīgað tō eorðan,
næfre ge wilde
tō wuda fleogan,
beō ge swā gemindige,
swā bið manna gehwilc,
metes and ēðeles.
Old English. Anglo Saxon metrical charm.
From the Fables of Zambri, the Parsee
A rustic, preparing to devour an apple, was addressed by a brace of crafty and covetous birds:
“Nice apple that,” said one, critically examining it. “I don’t wish to disparage it — wouldn’t say a word against that vegetable for all the world. But I never can look upon an apple of that variety without thinking of my poisoned nestling! Ah! so plump, and rosy, and — rotten!”
“Just so,” said the other. “And you remember my good father, who perished in that orchard. Strange that so fair a skin should cover so vile a heart!”
Just then another fowl came flying up.
~Edward Lear, 1835~
Raven (corvus corax)
Attaque Demoniaque: a Gallery
The Crow and the Pitcher: A Fable
~ From Aesop’s Fables, Robinson edition, 1895~
A Crow, ready to die with thirst, flew with joy to a Pitcher, which he saw at a distance. But when he came up to it, he found the water so low that with all his stooping and straining he was unable to reach it. Thereupon he tried to break the Pitcher; then to overturn it; but his strength was not sufficient to do either. At last, seeing some small pebbles lie near the place, he cast them one by one into the Pitcher; and thus, by degrees, raised the water up to the very brim, and quenched his thirst.”
Santa Muerte Blanca’s Prayer
Santa Muerte de mi corazón,
Ampárame bajo tu manto
Y otórgame tu bendición
Para que el amor y la dicha siempre lleguen
Señora Mía dame tu fuerza
Para que todo lo que me rodea se armonice.
Para que la fortuna y la suerte me sigan siempre.
Que todo lo malo se retire
Que todo lo bueno venga.
Te lo pido por tu poder y fuerza sobre todas las cosas vivas.
Rattenkönig, the Rat King
Excerpts of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls, 1924
visions of the legendary Rattenkönig, the Rat King, 1683
God! those carrion black pits of sawed, picked bones and opened skulls! Those nightmare chasms choked with the pithecanthropoid, Celtic, Roman, and English bones of countless unhallowed centuries! Some of them were full, and none can say how deep they had once been. Others were still bottomless to our searchlights, and peopled by unnameable fancies. What, I thought, of the hapless rats that stumbled into such traps amidst the blackness of their quests in this grisly Tartarus?
My searchlight expired, but still I ran. I heard voices, and yowls, and echoes, but above all there gently rose that impious, insidious scurrying; gently rising, rising, as a stiff bloated corpse gently rises above an oily river that flows under the endless onyx bridges to a black, putrid sea. Something bumped into me — something soft and plump. It must have been the rats; the viscous, gelatinous, ravenous army that feast on the dead and the living …