Mrs Ruth Serlachius’ exlibris

A collection of books of the Serlachius family, more specifically that of Ruth Serlachius and R. Erik Serlachius, has been preserved in Serlachius Museum Gösta’s old side, at Joenniemi Manor.

Exlibris or the bookplate of the owner of a book has been regarded as a combination of literature and miniature art. The term exlibris comes from Latin and it means from the collection or the library of, in other words it tells who the owner of a book is.

Exlibris depicts the owner of the bookplate symbolically through his or her personality, values, work or family connections. Bookplate can entail the owner’s name, monogram or coat of arms. In Finland renowned artists, such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Hugo Simberg, Helene Schjerfbeck, Eric O. W. Ehrström, Alf Danning, Vilho Askola and Erkki Tanttu have created exlibris. 

Finnish-Danish grafic artist Alf Danning (1893–1953) created several Mänttä-Vilppula themed  graphic works on commission of Gösta Serlachius. The artworks depicted Mänttä mill, other companies of the Serlachius family, the rapids of Mänttä and Vilppula, Mänttä church as well as Mänttä castle, among others. Retained correspondence reveals the good spirit of cooperation which prevailed between Danning and Gösta Serlachius and which still manifests itself in the Foundation’s collection through several dozen works made by Danning.

Alf Danning has completed the exlibris of both Ruth Serlachius and R. Erik Serlachius. Mrs Ruth Serlachius exlibris depicts its owner through the things that were important to her.

Ruth Serlachius (née Björkenheim, née Ahlström) had studied agricultural economics and zootechnics. In her time, Joenniemi Manor was a model farm that presented the new agricultural methods and plant varieties. Animal breeding and development of the manor and its surroundings were important for her and presented themselves in her every day life.

Her exlibris depicts a man ploughing a field and cumulus clouds hanging over the arable landscape. According to the rules of exlibris art, the word Ex Libris stands on the bookplate divided into two parts so that the last part can have a capital letter as initial.  The exlibris reflects also the name Ruth Serlachius. The lower right corner shows a faint signature of the artist.

The bookplate has been copied according to the artists’ drawing on a adhesive paper so that some degree of the accuracy of the original has been lost. When used in a proper way, exlibris is located inside the front cover near the upper left edge.

Heidi Kastelli

Alf Danning, Ruth Serlachiuksen exlibris. Serlachius-museot.
Alf Danning, Ruth Serlachiuksen exlibris. Serlachius-museot.