"Ex-libris, as small printed art graphics pasted in books to identify their owners, have existed for more than five hundred years. The first use of mobile type by Gutenberg caused a swift development of libraries and their owners - proud of their possessions - chose to mark their books with ex-libris, or bookplates as they are commonly called in English.
Apart from rare exceptions...ex-libris collecting did not, however, really start before the 1860s. When it did, because of the historical, sociological and artistic interest of these small prints, the fashion spread like wildfire. Societies of collectors were founded in London and Berlin in 1891, and in many European capitals in the subsequent decade."
- International Federation of Societies of Exlibris Amateurs