Czech bookplates. Ex Libris, Exlibris.
I have never seen,
not even a photograph of her
but according to eyewitnesses,
she was truly beautiful
and not only that but the first collector of
Marie Jancakova, maiden name Pribilova
*13th July 1887 + 2nd of
It was a difficult choice that Josef Vachal had to
make, that choice being which of the two sisters
he liked the most. He met Klara, the younger of
the two sisters around the 4th June 1911, around
the time of her graduation. During that year, they
spent the Christmas together, and Vachal fell
deeply in love with the golden haired Klara, about
who he later wrote Medek. In which he described
her as a creature so gorgeous. But the
relationship did not last and they split up in
Váchal met Maria, around the same year as he had
met Klara, and had probably started a friendship
by then. On the 1st November 1911, Maria attended
the founding general assembly of SURSUM Art
Asociation at the restaurant U Choderu (Ferdinandka)
and where on Vachal recommendation, she joined the
association as a member.
Before the First World War, she worked as a
special teacher at Slovacko, where B. B.Buchlovan
and K. J. Obratil (both from Uherske Hradiste) and
also graphic artist Josef Hodek firstly introduced
her to the art of bookplates.
She returned back to Prague in 1918 and begun to
be the founding member of preparatory Committee of
Association of collectors and friends of exlibris
She became a member of committee SSPE around 1920,
and her first job involved looking after the
She then met PhDr Ladislav Jancak, who was the
alumnus of Czech studies at the philosophical
faculty, she later got married him in 1922. Vachal
created the wedding invitations for their wedding.
Maria's husband then became the landlord of a
famous cafeteria, the main centre of Prague a very
artistic, avant-garde and later to be a tourist
place in the public gardens of Petrin.
Some people commented, that her collection was
facilitated a lot. Artist did not have money to
often pay for their spending.
For her husband, only one bookplate was made from
V. Polivka. So from that point of view, it is
clear who clearly had to pay for the expenses.
Without a doubt, she was one of the biggest
collector of bookplates. Exlibris being created
for her mainly in 1911 - 1958. As far as I know,
the number of artists, who created bookplates for
her, were imposing 52 authors. Especially with her
name, around 200 bookplates, about 190 can be
confirmed on my list.
Between the years of 1948-1956, a noted break in
the creation of the new exlibris, which was
probably due to the political and social changes
in the Czech Republic.
The most number of bookplates: 23 created by
V.Fleissig for her, and 10 belonged to V. Parizek,
V. Polivka, C. Stastny, J. Vodrazka.
In a survey of potential creative artists of
exlibris, such as Cinybulk, Florian, Hodek, Kinsky,
Kobliha, Konupek, Nemec, Stastny, Votlucka and
Vodrazka, not to mention well known other artists
whose main interest were not in creating
bookplates: V. Fuka, P.Tucny and J.Ulman.
Creator of her first bookplate was Josef
Vachal in 1911, who created six bookplates for
her and four for her sister Kaára in the same
year. Which showed his strong feelings he had for
both the sisters.
Friendship with Maria lasted many years and his
last exlibris from all the 13; he had made for her
due to Marie Jancakova,
Frantisek Tichy started to create exlibris
with an avid interest.The first one, he made for
her before leaving for France in 1928. The next
one he created after he came back from Paris in
1936. Tichy, from the final number of 30
bookplates, made around 8 only for her. Professor
J.Glivicky, while evaluating work of Tichy
commented that exlibris, the Heart Queen with a
Clubs jack from 1938 was engraved by Maria
Jancakova by herself. That work is kind of
debased, it is a shame that the engraving had not
been done by a professional engraver. (Tichy in
some cases only let the professionals to engrave
really liked to watch artists, while they worked,
as Vachal mentioned in his memoirs. She made a lot
of Exlibris and New Years greetings by herself.
Not only for herself but also for others I.E Lina
Heinicke. Blossoming branches are typical of her
work; she used many other techniques, such as dry
needle and linocut.
Unfortunately she never published an article in
Magazine Knizna znacka.
From the exchanging lists of years 1940,1943,1946
and 1956, it is obvious that she collected authors
named by others and me: i.e. K. Beneš, A. Ladova,
R. Gajdos, A. Naumann, W. Helfenbein, V. Maisner.
The fact that she did not collect any zinographics
I do not have any information about her close
relatives, so as to the whereabouts of her vast
collection, I have no clue. Most probably all the
pieces were sold.
Summary: If only did not do this noted
collector anything, but influenced the work of
Vachal and Tichy, it would be enough to do for
development of exlibris in Bohemia.
The list of bookplates for
ing. Ivan Bohac