© 2015, Randy Mosher

Sometimes you find the most wonderful treasures in the most unlikely places, but after some contemplation, they not only seem to make sense, but may even seem inevitable. I often search on eBay for art items with beery subject matter, like magazine illustrations or old genre prints of people drinking beer. Guess what I found this time.

It was a bookplate with a grinning skeleton holding a mug of beer. Searching for more, I found a huge selection of beautiful bookplates, mostly wood engravings. It seems that the life’s work of a famous Hungarian graphics collector named Ferenc Galambos was being split up and auctioned. They range in subject matter as well as execution. If there is a common theme, it is that life is short and we should enjoy it, and there may he helpful knowledge in books–of course, that may be just an author’s self-interested point-of-view coming through. I bought a fair number, including these beer-related examples.

Most are European, where the tradition of personalized bookplates is more widespread. Many of them are from the former Soviet bloc and slightly after. The art schools behind the Iron Curtain were fairly good, apparently. I love the technique and the way they tell fun little stories. Of course I am fond of the subject matter, but I like these little masterpieces so much, I even included one on wine.