Louth area woman’s bookmark collection of 22,000 now set to go under the hammer

Barbara Smith with just a small hoard of her amazing bookmark collection.
Barbara Smith with just a small hoard of her amazing bookmark collection.

Some people collect stamps, others hoard coins - but for Louth area woman Barbara Smith it’s always been bookmarks... 22,000 of them to be exact.

The 81-year-old, who is also a founder member of The Bookmark Society, has been receiving and buying bookmarks for the last 42 years and her beloved collection is now set to go up for auction in January.

Barbara's bookmark made of wood from the Houses of Parliament.

Barbara's bookmark made of wood from the Houses of Parliament.

And it all started off thanks to her two children, Paul and Tracey.

“My children went away on school trips and wanted to bring me back a small present, which always turned out to be bookmarks,” Barbara said.

“It then just completely snowballed from there and now I have a collection of 22,000 bookmarks.”

Barbara’s avid hobby was easily able to turn into the incredible hoard it is today as her husband Geoffrey, (79), loves collecting books - so the two went hand in hand.

Although Geoffrey joked that out of the 22,000 bookmarks that are stored in their home, there’s never one to hand when he’s reading a book, so ends up using a teared up piece of paper instead.

The couple originally from the Leicester area said that they used to buy the bookmarks from book shops and antique fairs, and over the years have visited most parts of the country in search of the next find.

In fact, one of the oldest bookmarks that Barbara owns dates back to 1860.

Barbara’s collection is truly an amazing one and has a bookmark made out of every type of material you could think of - from the rare silk bookmarks to the classic leather ones, as well as wood, ivory and metal to name a few.

You could say that she is a true safe guarder of history as she has collected many of the old style bookmarks, promoting British advertising - from trains and boats, and tobacco to soaps.

She has all of the classic advertising genres represented in her collection.

She even has a bookmark made out of the original wood from the Houses of Parliament.

So the big question is, does Barbara have a favourite bookmark?

“Now I knew I was going to be asked this question....and the simple answer is no,” Barbara said.

“I don’t have one set favourite, but if I had to choose, I would say that the rare silk bookmarks I have are definitely some of my favourite ones as the detail on them is truly amazing.”

But Barbara has now decided that the time is right to sell her bookmarks as she said she wants to give some of the money to her grandchildren.

Barbara added that she’s very sad to see the collection go, but won’t be selling every single one of them.

“There are a few that I will be keeping, like the very first ones my children gave me and some special ones given to me by my mother,” Barbara said.

“The collection has given me a such joy and has been a source of great fun and pleasure over the years and I hope now that they do sell well and that other people can enjoy them as much as I do.”

Barbara’s collection will be sold at the Golding Young & Mawer Lincoln Fine Art and Antiques Catalogue Sale on January, 31, 2018.

Art and antiques specialist, Alastair McPhie-Meiklejon said the bookmarks will be auctioned in a variety of lots given the historical value of some, and the collectible value of others. He added that it’s a very important collection.