Possibly the formal study of book plates can be dated to the work of Lord de Tabley in the 1880s. He attempted a schema of British plates, starting with the pre-Reformation period and identifying Jacobean, Queen Anne and Georgian styles. Plates as a reflection of the times have continued to multiply and, with the advent of the ebook, a growing number of plates are appended to electronic books. Royal bookplates, as this volume illustrates, are an important aspect of the subject.
A Guide to the Study of Book-Plates (Ex-Libris), by Lord de Tabley (then the Hon. J. Leicester Warren M.A.) was published in 1880 in London by John Pearson of 46 Pall Mall. The book established what is now accepted as the general classification of styles of British ex-libris: early armorial (previous to Restoration, exemplified by the Nicholas Bacon plate); Jacobean, a somewhat misleading term, but distinctly understood to include the heavy decorative manner of the Restoration, Queen Anne and early Georgian days (the Lansanor plate is Jacobean); Chippendale (the style above described as rococo, tolerably well represented by the French plate of Convers); wreath and ribbon, belonging to the period described as that of the urn, &c.