Association of






M. Jancakova






















   No 2, 2003                                                                            Past Issues


15. ing. Milan Humplík:

Exlibris forgery.                                                                      

Ismael SmithOnce a time we find between exlibris which we in good believe changed or bought a strange thing which can turn out to be a forgery. This discovery does not have to be such dramatic as a forgery of a banknote, but it does not lack the interest. 
The collectors who collect only marks of contemporary artists, do not know a lot about this subject - maybe sometimes they notice a "loaded" topic or remarkable similarity in design solution, but it can happen. This is different at old works. For example there are more plagiarisms and loan-motifs of drawings made by Mikolas Ales than the real exlibris which Ales made. (See also articles of P. Vodehnal in Knizni znacka no. 1 from 1950 and of K. Samsinak in News no. 1 from 1976). In this case was probably most important the likeness, magic of drawings together with the extraordinary popularity of M. Ales, that was actually born in the moment of his death. 
Very close to forgery are also artificial exlibris. This are marks where was added some legend to the drawing or graphic without knowing of artist. For all we mention 3 etching exlibris on the name J. Dlabac with graphical work of O. Stafl from the beginning of last century.
falsumNot very long ago one of the Dutch collectors sent us a print - line block on the name F. a K. Lunakovi for designating of artist. Because the Czech name was written with correct acute and wedge we suppose to be a Czech artist, but the style does not look like any Czech artist. For an amateur was this work too sophisticated. After a small search and thinking it turned out that this is an "adaptation" of exlibris made by respect American artist Ismael Smith which he drew 1920 in USA with the legend Maimie Cohn. If we compare both versions we see that the plagiarist left all drawing without modification and without embarrassment only changed the name of the owner and added to it some fish. And probably because he would no have a guilty conscience he removed the signature of Senor Ismael Smith and the year from the right bottom corner.
Ismael Smith (born 1886 in Barcelona, died 1972 in White Plains in USA) was sculptor and graphic artist who studied before the first world war in Paris and since 1919 lived with small breaks in New York. He is from the generation of Catalan modernists which react on the late secession. To this group belong also architect A. Gaudi and graphic artists A. de Riquer and J. Triado. Smith made between 1907 - 1930 about 80 exlibris which the collectors value very high. Around 1930 he closed his artistically career. 
American collectors society ASBCD (American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers) published in her yearbook 1988/89 detailed work list of exlibris made by I. Smith together with a broad study of his life. The information from this study was also used for this article. It is interesting that in the work list are mentioned also two other forgery, one of them use the same drawing as the mark F. a K. Lunakovi and this is also on a Czech name V. a J. Buckovi (Czech grammar is not mentioned) and says that the forgery occurs exclusively in European collection, particularly in Belgium, in USA they don't know them.

Published in Knizni znacka 2/2003, page 40-41, author Milan Humplik

Email ivanbohac@seznam.cz