William Augustus Brewer bookplate collection

Biographical and Historical Notes

American educator Reverend William Augustus Brewer (1863-1931) was an avid bookplate collector. His wife Augusta LaMotte Brewer bequeathed his collection to the University of Delaware Library after her husband's death. Brewer was an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeley. He also served as the first and only mayor of the town of Hillsborough, California. The Brewer family was among the early settlers of San Mateo County, California. Brewer served as the rector of the St. Matthew's Military School (now Saint Matthew's Episcopal Day School) in Burlingame, California, having succeeded his father, philanthropist and educator Rev. Alfred Lee Brewer (1831-1899), who founded the school (then called St. Matthew's Hall) and served as its headmaster from 1866 to 1891. William Augustus Brewer married Ellen Wheaton (d. 1927) in 1895; they had two sons, Wheaton Brewer (1897-1959) and William Augustus Brewer, Jr. (1900-1957). Rev. Brewer married Augusta LaMotte of Wilmington, Delaware, in 1929. Augusta LaMotte's brother was Ferdinand LaMotte, Jr., who served as a vice president of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company, retiring in 1944. Augusta and Ferdinand LaMotte were the great-grandchildren of Daniel LaMotte, whose daughter Margaretta married Alfred Victor du Pont. Augusta LaMotte was also a cousin of Victor du Pont III.


"History." St. Matthew's Episcopal Day School. http://www.stmatthewsday.org/podium/default.aspx?t=130291 (accessed June 18, 2013).

Alexander, Philip W. and Charles P. Hamm. History of San Mateo County. Burlingame, California: Press of Burlingame Publishing Co., 1916. http://books.google.com/books?id=sRY1AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA3#v=onepage&q&f=false (accessed June 18, 2013).

Sargent, Porter E. A Handbook of the Best Private Schools. Sargent's handbook series. Boston: P. Sargent, 1915. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZuZJ1CI1fdAC&dq=porter%20sargent%20handbook%20of%20private%20schools%201915&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=porter%20sargent%20handbook%20of%20private%20schools%201915&f=false (accessed June 18, 2013).

"City Woman's Rare Book Plates Acclaimed," The Sunday Morning Star (Wilmington, Delaware), March 3, 1940.

"Miss La Motte Bride of Rev. W. A. Brewer," New York Times, May 20, 1929.

Scope and Content Note

The William Augustus Brewer bookplate collection comprises 12,870 printed bookplates dating primarily from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, many of which were from the libraries of famous individuals or produced by significant artists. The collection also contains additional material relating to Brewer's collection, including Mrs. Augusta LaMotte Brewer's address book and printing plates and blocks, as well as reference material relating to bookplates.

Series I. contains 12,680 printed bookplates collected by the Rev. William Augustus Brewer, which comprises the bulk of the collection and represents the original gift to the University of Delaware Library. The bookplates date primarily from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries and represent a variety of illustration styles, subjects, and symbols. The collection includes bookplates from the libraries of artists and literary figures, royalty, political and historical figures, book collectors, and many others. Notable figures include English author Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson), American author Samuel Clemens (pseudonym Mark Twain), American photographer Alfred Stieglitz, American artist Walt Disney, Irish author William Butler Yeats, and English author Charles Dickens; Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Theodore Roosevelt; as well as King George III of England and Revolutionary War patriot Paul Revere.

Many notable designers are also represented in the collection. The designers of the bookplates include Thomas Bewick, Edward Burne-Jones, Kate Greenaway, William Hogarth, Howard Pyle, Rudolf Ruzicka, and James A. M. Whistler. Subjects illustrated in the bookplates are varied, including acrostics, birds, death's heads, medicine, music, rebuses, and science and portraits of historical and literary figures.

In 1957, the University of Delaware Library produced an index to the collection. The index, organized alphabetically by artist, notable owners, geographic region, and subjects depicted in the bookplates, can be accessed online in the University of Delaware's institutional repository, UDSpace.

Photographs of the Rev. and Mrs. Augusta Brewer are also included in the collection, under plate numbers 12225 and 12226.

Series II-V. contain material added to the collection after the acquisition of the original collection of Rev. Brewer's bookplates, including Augusta LaMotte Brewer's address book listing individuals who donated material to the collection; an additional 190 mounted and unmounted bookplates; printing plates and woodblocks; and reference materials pertaining to the collection and study of bookplates. The monographs and journals were removed for cataloging with imprints in Special Collections. An appendix of those removed items appears in Series V.

Digital copies of many of the bookplates are available through the University of Delaware Library's Digital Collections website.

Note: There is no pl. 117 in this collection.