# 25706

[GIBBS, May, after]

A pair of printed bookmarks in the shape of gumleaves

$375.00 AUD

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[Sydney? : Effarbees Series, circa 1940]. A matching pair of diecut printed bookmarks in the shape of gumleaves, printed on coated card stock, versos blank, each showing a gum nut baby inspired by May Gibbs, printed with the word ‘BOOKMARK’, 155 mm tall with folding printed panels with greeting sentiment, inscribed to two different recipients (one dated 1944), generally fine condition, light creases and loss to the tip of one leaf.

A rare matched pair of Australian themed bookmarks imitating the artwork of May Gibbs, an unauthorised piracy, showing two gum nut babies on a gum leaf, one facing forwards and the other facing backwards.

‘In December 1913, May Gibbs took out copyright registration for a gumleaf-shaped bookmark which would become one of Australia’s most iconic designs. She wanted to design a good Australian bookmark and thought the gumleaf ‘a pretty thing’, if only she could ‘make it interesting [on] both sides’. It was from this simple bookmark design that her entire bushland fantasy world would evolve. The first gumnut baby bookmarks were hand-painted by May and Rene and sold for five shillings each. But instant demand meant hand-production soon gave way to commercial print runs of the bookmarks which were then sold for only sixpence each.’ – State Library of New South Wales website: https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/stories/may-gibbs/commercial-art

The State Library of New South Wales hold a substantial collection of May Gibbs ephemera, including her commercially printed bookmarks which feature a gumnut baby on a gumleaf, printed in colour on both sides and copyrighted May Gibbs. This pirated version appears to date from the late 1930s or 1940s (Effarbees is known to have published other Australian art ephemera in the 1930s) and does not credit the artist as the designer.

Rare, we cannot locate other examples.