Saturday, October 17, 2009

found bookmarks

One of my favorite types of bookmark is the found bookmark, which is to say that the marker itself wasn't originally intended to serve as a bookmark, but was conscripted to perform the function. Items include anything and everything available, ranging from ticket stubs, to business card, to gum wrappers. Anything but a dog ear.

This found bookmark is a recent one of mine from a trip this past summer to New York. Its a ticket stub from the ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island and Liberty Island. The ticket was a small little bit torn from the end, and the stub is this long, thin strip of heavy paper, whose proportions seemed to have been designed for the specific purpose of being a found bookmark. That may have been the case when the tickets were designed, I don't know. The designer in me also sees other possibilities: it was designed tall to stand up in the pocket so its easily found when the hold (finally) makes it to the head of the line, the ticket stock is fed on a roll in a machine, and its thinness suits the machine's parameters, and the length is simply a function of the information required, or it wasn't anything more than a cool shape in the designer's mind.

I found an interesting exhibit by an Irish artist named Niall de Buitlear, on display last year at the National Library in Dublin. "The Found Bookmark Project" was part of a large exhibit titled "The Preponderance of the Small" and included objects found between the pages of books in libraries. These little bits of the flotsam and jetsam from people's lives, tell a story.

In terms of their collectibility, there has to be a fine line between real bookmarks, and junk. I'm not sure where that line is, but de Buitlear's work makes it more fuzzy. It also makes cleaning out my bookmark drawer harder. I'm not sure the what kind of story that tells.


  1. Phil, the history of the book marks was excellent. I actually use mass cards when someone dies..... they hand out a prayer card. Bit morbid, but it helps me reflect on that person until I lose the card and then on to the next dead guy.

    It would be nice if you rated your books, like its a this kind of book and I give it a 1-10 and the read is slow-fast.

    I love the way you are visually organizing yourself through the blog, its very cool. Don't forget to rate your books! xo Coleen

  2. Hi my exhibition in the National Library is actually on now and runs until the end of October. Some more info can be found here:

    All the best,


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