Rockwell Kent was probably the best-known of artists to provide Antioch Bookplate designs before the modern age of licensing.
Some notes from Ernest Morgan give some idea of the stature of Kent:
“Most correspondence was turned over to Dan Burne Jones as both a collector and author of a Kent biography. One letter was given in 1970 by EM to William J. Spangler of New Jersey for his own collection of Kentiana — ‘Should anyone ask, be sure to explain that I gave this to you. Kent would kill me if I ever sold one of his letters.’”
The little correspondence with Kent that remains in the Antioch Bookplate archives show him to be a person of strong opinions. In a letter of January 17, 1962 he gives a scathing review of modern art trends: “How true it is that art reflects a people’s culture! We have toady [sic] a Cold War art consistent in its character with the devastation of a nuclear holocaust,” followed by his declaration in a letter of January 30, 1964: “That even bookplates should be influenced by the current fashion for abstractionist nonsense was to be expected and, I trust, that it is equally to have been expected that I wouldn’t for one moment so far demean myself, as to do anything in that silly line. I know, of course, that you don’t expect me to.”
This initial group of Kent designs printed in black with a red ruled border on smooth white paper was acquired by from Greenland Press of Pittsburgh. The only design to last in the catalogs was M-104,
Other designs by Kent will be featured in a future post, as well designs by Dan Burne Jones.