AskDefine | Define bookmark

Dictionary Definition

bookmark n : a marker (a piece of paper or ribbon) placed between the pages of a book to mark the reader's place [syn: bookmarker]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈbʊkmɑrk/
  • /"bUkmArk/


  1. A strip of material used to mark a place in a book.
  2. A record of the address of a file or Internet page serving as a shortcut to it.


strip used to mark a place in a book
record of the address of a file or page


  1. To create a bookmark.

Extensive Definition

A bookmark is a thin marker, commonly made of paper or card, used to keep one's place in a book and so be able to return to it with ease. Other frequently used materials for bookmarks are leather, metals like silver and brass, silk, wood and fabrics. Many bookmarks can be clipped on a page with the aid of a page-flap.

History of bookmarks

Bookmarks were used throughout the medieval period, consisting usually of a small parchment strip attached to the edge of folio (or a piece of cord attached to headband).
As the first printed books were quite rare and valuable, it was determined early on that something was needed to mark one's place in a book without causing its pages any harm. Some of the earliest bookmarks were used at the end of the sixteenth century, and Queen Elizabeth I was one of the first to own one.
Modern bookmarks are available in a huge variety of materials with a multitude of designs and styles from which to choose. Many are made of cardboard or heavy paper, but they are also constructed of leather, ribbon, fabric, felt, steel, wire, tin, beads, wood, plastic, vinyl, silver, gold and other precious metals, some decorated with gemstones.
The first detached, and therefore collectible, bookmarkers began to appear in the 1850s. One of the first references to these is found in Mary Russell Mitford's Recollections of a Literary Life (1852): "I had no marker and the richly bound volume closed as if instinctively." Note the abbreviation of 'bookmarker' to 'marker'. The modern abbreviation is usually 'bookmark'. Historical bookmarks can be very valuable, and are sometimes collected along with other paper ephemera.
By the 1860s attractive machine-woven markers were being manufactured, mainly in Coventry, UK, the centre of the silk-ribbon industry. One of the earliest was produced by J.&J. Cash to mark the death of the Prince Consort in 1861. Thomas Stevens of Coventry soon became pre-eminent in the field and claimed to have nine hundred different designs.
Bookmarks produced by Thomas Stevens are called Stevengraphs. Stevengraphs first appeared around 1862. Woven silk bookmarks were very appreciated gifts in Victorian days and Stevens seemed to make one for every occasion and celebration. One Stevengraph read: All of the gifts which heaven bestows, there is one above all measure, and that's a friend midst all our woes, a friend is a found treasure to thee I give that sacred name, for thou art such to me, and ever proudly will I claim to be a friend to thee.
Most nineteenth-century bookmarks were intended for use in bibles and prayer books and were made of ribbon,woven silk or leather. By the 1880s the production of woven silk markers was declining and printed markers made of stiff paper or cardboard began to appear in significant numbers. This development paralleled the wider availability of books themselves, and the range of available bookmarkers soon expanded dramatically.

See also


bookmark in Czech: Záložka
bookmark in German: Lesezeichen (Buch)
bookmark in French: Marque-page
bookmark in Hebrew: סימנייה
bookmark in Japanese: 栞
bookmark in Dutch: Bladwijzer (boek)
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