Evert J. Bancker (1721-1803) was a New York City merchant and later became speaker of the New York State Assembly. His Chippendale-styled armorial bookplate, engraved by Henry Dawkins (active circa 1753), includes a shield with a figure resembling the number 4. Merchants, masons, and other artisans have a long tradition of using personalized marks and seals. Variations on this figure date back hundreds of years, and multiple generations of Bancker family bookplates also bear this symbol. As Howard James Banker notes in his 1909 publication, “if there is something of mystery as to [the figure’s] origin and significance, it but adds to its interest as a family symbol” (p. 17).
Chippendale bookplates reflect some of the same 18th-century design trends as Thomas Chippendale’s furniture, including elaborate scrollwork and garland flourishes. Yet Charles Dexter Allen (1865-1926), author of American Book-plates: A Guide to Their Study with Examples (1894), characterizes some of Dawkins’s extrinsic design elements as “Chippendalism run wild” (p. 128).
The Yale Bookplate Collection comprises an array of graphic works, such as this specimen by Dawkins, in addition to both archival and published materials related to bookplates.
Allen, Charles Dexter. American Book-plates: A Guide to Their Study with Examples. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1894. https://archive.org/details/americanbookpla00browgoog
Banker, Howard James. A Partial History and Genealogical Record of the Bancker or Banker Families of America and in particular the Descendants of Laurens Mattyse Bancker. Rutland, VT: The Tuttle Company Printers, 1909. https://archive.org/details/partialhistoryge00bank