I admit it. I often fold the corners over of my books to mark my page. I never used to do this – as a child that read avidly I mainly used bus tickets as bookmarks and would never dream of ‘damaging’ a book in this way. Working in a bookshop tends to take away any reverence you have for books so corners folded down it is, though I still balk at anyone who leaves a book open and face down.
All of which is ridiculous since I inherited my grandmother’s bookmark collection. She was a regular but, I think, not voracious reader and had a small bookcase with some of her favourites on – Miss Read I especially remember – as well as making frequent trips to the library. I’ve no idea how she came to collect bookmarks but I remember us always trying to find them for her when we went on day trips or holidays. My aunt did the same.
The bookmarks were kept in a large flat white cardboard box that would no longer shut flat but when I got them I transferred them into an album with collectors pages which was easier to store in my tiny house. And then I put them into a cupboard and forgot about them, continuing to use cardboard promo bookmarks or fold the corners down while I read.
This situation has recently changed. I have decided that it is now important to maintain and grow the collection. Important to me, I mean. Like organising my recipe cupboard, this strikes me as something that only middle class grown ups do but what the hell. Over the last year I’ve started to buy bookmarks whenever we’ve gone somewhere and I’ve added them to the folder.
I thought you might like to see a few of them. Many are from National Trust or English Heritage sites, castles, big houses, or museums. It may be that bookmarks are a quintessentially British item, especially embossed leather ones, but certainly the majority of the collection are from this country.
Having said that, here are some from other countries. I remember buying the New Zealand one which must have been my first addition to the collection, back in 2008.
There are several that have meaning for my family and where we lived. (See ‘Our’ Bookmarks above) They also used to make bookmarks to remember the country’s special occasions and historic moments, which came in a cardboard folder with the date on. There are a number of these – mainly royal occasions and so on and the small collection is probably my least favourite part. It strikes me that this is the kind of thing that the Brexit crowd might like – perhaps they could produce one to celebrate our first national batch of innovative jam or something.
There are a few handmade craft bookmarks – crochet, pressed flowers and woodcrafts. And at least one that I think I made as a child out of a piece of leather. There are also the novelty bookmarks, which I remember liking as a child with beads in the shape of ladybirds on the end, and a furry cat head, and strange shaped bookmarks.
As you might expect, I like the bookmarks with literary connections the most.
I need to find some more. And yet, I should also consider using some of them once in a while, if only to stop folding down the corners of my books…
What do you use as a bookmark? Tell me in the comments below!