The World of Bookmarks

Essays & Interviews on Bookmarks

 Essays & Interviews on Bookmarks      Directory    home

by Asim Maner 

Frank Divendal, from Alkmaar, Holland, is an unusual collector of bookmarks. He has written twelve 
articles on bookmarks for the Dutch magazine Boekenpost in 1990s as well as two booklets in 1995 
and 2003, which were published by the Dutch publishing house De Buitenkant, Amsterdam. I will tell 
later about one of his witty booklets and about his unique personal bookmark. Frank works in the 
administration division of the social security agency in Alkmaar, and in his free time and by the way 
he established a new world record as the owner of the largest collection of bookmarks. When he was 
listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006, he owned 71'235 different bookmarks from all 
over the world. Incredibly, as of April 2012, he now possesses more then 120'000 bookmarks.


This achievement of Frank is great even compared to other collectors with respectable collections. 
The Bookmark Museum of the City of Duisburg, Germany, for example, used to announce that they 
have over 10'000 bookmarks not long ago. However, I have also learned of an other collector with 
more than 40'000 bookmarks, which may already have reached more than 50'000. Even so, it is a 
unique sphere Frank is moving in.

As a record holder, Frank attracts quite some attention and in 2008 he was invited to come to Dubai
and make an exhibition. As a result, several newspapers reported about Frank and his collection. In
2011 he was interviewed on the Dutch television.

What impresses me more than the huge number of his bookmarks is Frank's knowledge about 
which bookmarks he already possesses or not. This is astounding to me as I have always problems 
knowing what I have in my comparatively small collection of bookmarks and I ask myself frequently: 
'Do I have this bookmark or not?' Curious, I asked Frank how he manages to know about every single 
bookmark in his collection. Here is what he said:

"My collection consists of bookmarks from all over the world, made of different materials, some were 
bought, others were found in bookshops, libraries and everywhere where books are. Friends give them 
to me, but many reached my collection by exchanging with fellow collectors. I collect all types of bookmarks 
from all over the world, but I prefer those made of paper. I have been collecting bookmarks since 1982.

I store vintage bookmarks in special albums with transparent pages as you can see in the picture above. 
I have 15 of these albums already. The newer bookmarks I place in one of the drawers I have, meanwhile 
also 70 in number, two of which can be seen on the table in the picture above. In the background you see 
my shelves where the drawers and the albums are stored.

I cannot of course know immediately if I have a bookmark already or not, but I have them organized quite 
well. First I sort them by country. Then, within a country, I separate them into special themes like bookshops, 
libraries, editors, tourism, charity, etc. When I have a lot bookstores in one country, I sort them alphabetically. 
I do the same with editors. I also have special drawers for woven bookmarks, leather bookmarks, and other 
materials. Anytime I have more on one subject I make further categories. When for example I receive a 
bookmark from a bookshop in England, I open the drawer for the "English Bookshop Bookmarks". 
They are arranged alphabetically, so I can know quickly if it is new to me or not.

What makes the most work is if I receive, let me say, 100 different bookmarks from several different 
countries. Bookmarks from one country are sorted much more easily.  First, I check every bookmark 
I receive to see if I have it already. If I do, then it goes to the doubles area: these are reserved for exchange 
with my collector colleagues. The number of bookmarks received minus the bookmarks which went to 
the doubles gives me the number of how many new bookmarks I received. And that is how I'm able to keep 
up on how many different bookmarks I have.

Again, I'm impressed by the exact organization that allows Frank to know at any time how many different 
bookmarks he possesses. I for myself, I have to sit sometimes in front of the computer for a rather long time 
and to search the Internet to understand which organisation, company or club or whatever is represented 
here with a bookmark, and what they are trying to tell me. I have to find out who the unknown publisher of 
the bookmark is and what they do before I can put the bookmark in the right box. Sometimes it is an impossible 
job if I don't understand the language. In this case, however, it goes much faster: if I can't identify the bookmark, 
it simply goes into a box named X-Files.

Bladwijzers, the booklet Frank published in 2003 has a very interesting layout. The front and reverse covers 
feature an old worn-out book showing the title of the booklet (see below picture). You can also see multiple 
bookmarks jutting out of this "book" on the top. Inside, one sees the pages of the old book with bookmarks 
lying between the pages. On pages where there are no bookmarks to be seen, Frank wrote the text of his booklet. 
Thus, it is a book inside a booklet.

Then there is the bookmark which comes with the booklet. It shows the spine of the old book with bookmarks 
jutting out of it. It is an intriguing idea to design a bookmark, especially,  a unique one like this. I received the 
booklet and the bookmark together with a hand-written letter from Frank. On the back of the bookmark I discovered 
some hand-written notes (see picture), apparently made while counting his bookmarks and I could see the impressive 
amount of some 39'000 bookmarks which might have been the score in 2003. I also could find out that he is collecting 
other items like ex libris. I wasn't sure whether Frank noticed that he was sending me a bookmark with personal notes 
on it or if he did it on purpose. While pondering about this unusual incident and feeling happy about a very special 
bookmark, doubt came over me and I examined the notes closer just to find out that the personal notes were not made 
by a ballpen as it seemed first but were printed! Frank had surprised me with his very special personal bookmark. 
I don't know if other people have had similar experiences. 

As for his booklets, I regret not being able to read them as they are written in Dutch. Perhaps 
one day they will be translated into English for the pleasure of the many bookmark collectors.

Anyone wishing to contact Frank Divendal with questions
or an exchange of bookmarks may contact him at this address:   

Gift Shop  for Beautiful Bookmarks   |   Custom Bookmarks - Let Mirage Bookmark produce for you a memorable bookmark for your event