History and Bookmarks – The Fascinating History of Bookmarks: From Thin Leather Strips to Elaborate Silk Weaves

Welcome to my fun blog about history and bookmarks! In this post, we’ll explore the quirky and interesting details about this simple yet essential item that has been helping readers keep track of their place in a book for centuries.

First, let’s start with the basics: what is a bookmark?

A bookmark is a thin marker, usually made of paper or card, that is used to keep track of the reader’s place in a book. While the concept of a bookmark may seem straightforward, its history is anything but.

white book page on brown wooden table
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

Bookmarks and book thongs are essential tools for any book lover. Not only do they help us keep our place in our favourite novels, but they can also express our personality and creativity. From the ancient Greeks to modern-day readers, bookmarks and book thongs have evolved and adapted to suit the needs and preferences of readers.

Bookmarks have been around for centuries, with evidence of their use dating back to ancient Egypt. In fact, the first bookmarks were made from papyrus scraps and were used to mark the location of a specific passage in a scroll. I know many people who would do something similar now grabbing a receipt or post-it note!

Some of the earliest bookmarks were actually decorative clasps or figurines that were attached to the book itself, rather than placed between its pages.

Shabty of Amunemhat

The bookmark as we know it today began to take shape during the Middle Ages when scribes began to create books that were bound together and needed a way to mark a reader’s place.

The Evolution of Bookmarks: From Practical Tools to Beautiful Works of Art

As the use of books spread throughout Europe, bookmarks began to take on a more practical form. Monks and scribes used simple strips of parchment or leather to mark their place in manuscripts, while wealthy book collectors commissioned custom-made bookmarks adorned with precious stones or gold leaf.

Buddist monk reading a book under a tree

During the Renaissance, bookmarks became more ornate and decorative. They were more widely used among the general population as literacy rates increased and printed books became more affordable.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, bookmarks were often made from silk ribbons and embroidered with elaborate designs or inscriptions. Bookmarks were often made from silk or embroidered fabric, and they were adorned with tassels and other decorative elements.

One interesting detail about the history of bookmarks is that they were not always called “bookmarks”. The term “bookmark” didn’t come into common use until the 19th century. Before that, bookmarks were known by a variety of names, including “page markers,” “ribbon markers,” and “placeholders.”

Victorian Needlework: How Young Girls Learned to Make Embroidered Bookmarks

During the Victorian era, young girls were often taught needlework and embroidery as part of their education. This was seen as an important skill for young ladies to have, as it was believed that they would need to be able to sew and embroider to create and mend clothing and household items throughout their lives.

A bookmark was a popular item that young girls would often make as part of their needlework training. These bookmarks would be used to mark pages in their bibles or other religious texts and other books they were reading for leisure or education.

Many of these Victorian-era bookmarks were intricately embroidered, featuring delicate stitching and intricate designs. They often featured religious symbols or inspirational messages and were designed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Floral embroidered bookmark on a hessian cloth with a book and embroidry materials surrunding it.

The making of bookmarks also served as a way for young girls to express their creativity and individuality. Each bookmark was unique, reflecting the personal style and preferences of the maker. This was seen as an important part of a young girl’s education, as it encouraged her to develop her sense of style and creativity. In addition, it provided a sense of accomplishment and pride when the finished product was complete.

Stevengraph Bookmarks: A Unique Combination of Art and Functionality

Thomas Stevens was a weaver from Coventry, England. Stevens was known for his expertise in creating woven silk images, and he applied this technique to bookmarks. They are named Stevengraphs after their creator and gained popularity during the late 19th century.

Stevengraph bookmarks are made using a Jacquard loom, which is a mechanical loom that was first invented in the early 1800s. The loom is capable of creating intricate woven designs using multiple colours of thread. Stevens used this technology to create bookmarks featuring a wide range of images, including famous figures, landmarks, and other scenes.

One of the unique aspects of Stevengraph bookmarks is their texture. The silk used in the weaving process gives the bookmarks a distinctive feel, and the images are often quite detailed. In addition, many Stevengraph bookmarks were created to commemorate special events, such as royal weddings or other historical occasions.

Stevengraph bookmarks quickly became popular in England and the United States, and they were collected by book lovers and collectors alike. Today, Stevengraph bookmarks are highly sought after by collectors, and they are considered to be a valuable and historically significant type of bookmark.

In addition to their aesthetic and historical value, Stevengraph bookmarks also provide a unique window into the social and cultural trends of the late 19th century. They offer a glimpse into the types of images and themes that were popular during this period, and they provide a fascinating look at how bookmarks have evolved and adapted over time.

Stevengraph of lady Godiva in a procession
By Hiart – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42978393

Another fact about History and bookmarks is that they have been used for purposes beyond just marking one’s place in a book. During World War II, for example, soldiers used bookmarks as a means of passing secret messages to one another. The messages would be written on the bookmark and then left in a designated location for the intended recipient to find.

Fast forward to the present day, and bookmarks are available in a variety of materials and designs. From paper and card to metal and plastic, bookmarks can be found to suit any taste or preference. Some even feature designs that are specific to certain book genres, such as mystery or romance novels.

One interesting trend in modern bookmarks is the rise of digital bookmarks. With the increasing popularity of e-readers and digital books, many readers have turned to digital bookmarks as a way to keep track of their place in a book. Digital bookmarks can be saved and synced across multiple devices, making it easy to pick up where you left off no matter where you are.

Book Thongs: The Slim and Stylish Alternative to Traditional Bookmarks

While traditional paper bookmarks remain a popular choice, book thongs have gained popularity in recent years. Book thongs are typically made from a thin strip of material, such as linen or leather, that is long enough to dangle out of the book. They are designed to make it easy to locate your place in a book without having to flip through the pages to find the bookmark.

Black and Red Book thong displayed in a book with an Elephant charm
Black and Red Book thong displayed in a book with an Elephant charm

The history of book thongs can be traced back to ancient cultures, where they were often made from strips of thin leather. The leather strips were typically adorned with beads or feathers, and they were used to mark the pages of important texts.

In more recent times, book thongs have been adapted to modern materials and aesthetics. Today, book thongs are often made from thin strips of linen thread, which can be braided or knotted to create interesting designs. Some book thongs feature decorative beads or charms, while others are made from colourful fabrics or ribbons.

Book thongs offer a fun and creative way to personalize your reading experience. They can be braided, knotted, or decorated with beads or charms to create unique and interesting designs. Some book thongs even feature small trinkets or charms that are specific to a particular book or series.

One of the advantages of book thongs is their versatility. They can be used in a variety of book sizes and shapes, and they can be easily adjusted to fit the reader’s preferences. Additionally, they can be used to mark multiple places in a book, making them ideal for textbooks or reference materials.

Another advantage of book thongs is their durability. Unlike paper or card bookmarks, which can easily become damaged or lost, book thongs are made from sturdy materials that can withstand daily use. They can be easily washed and reused, making them a more sustainable and eco-friendly option.

Of course, there are some downsides to using book thongs. They can be more difficult to use than traditional paper bookmarks, especially for those who are new to using them. Additionally, they can be more expensive than paper bookmarks, especially if you opt for more elaborate designs or materials.

Despite these potential drawbacks, book thongs remain a popular choice for many readers. Whether you prefer traditional paper bookmarks or more unconventional options like book thongs, the important thing is to find a bookmark that works for you and helps you enjoy your reading experience to the fullest.

person reading book and holding coffee
Photo by Vincenzo Malagoli on Pexels.com

Despite the many changes that bookmarks have undergone over the centuries, one thing remains constant: their essential role in the reading experience. Whether you’re a student poring over a textbook or a casual reader enjoying a novel, a good bookmark can help you stay engaged and focused on the task at hand.

So next time you reach for a bookmark to mark your place in a book, take a moment to appreciate the rich history and quirky details behind this humble yet essential item. Who knows, you might just find a new appreciation for the simple act of reading and the many tools that make it possible.

In conclusion, bookmarks and book thongs are both essential tools for any book lover. They not only help us keep our place in our favorite novels, but they also offer a fun and creative way to express our personality and creativity.

From the earliest papyrus scraps to the modern-day book thong, bookmarks have evolved and adapted to suit the needs and preferences of readers throughout history. So next time you settle in with a good book, consider using a bookmark or book thong to help you keep your place and make your mark on the literary world.

2 Replies to “History and Bookmarks – The Fascinating History of Bookmarks: From Thin Leather Strips to Elaborate Silk Weaves”

    1. I’m so pleased you found it informative and it’s made my day to know it has made you smile.

      I agree the beaded bookmarks are magical. If you were to have one with a charm what type of charm would you choose?

      Much love Keely

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