Printed in brown ink on cream paper, the bookplate shows a man in the dress of a 19th-century agricultural laborer against a background of clouds and a landscape of fields, trees, and three buildings (possibly a house, a barn, and an out building). The man holds a basket in his left hand and sows seeds with his right hand. In the left foreground, a lamb frolics next to an open book. The right page of the book reads “LAMB’S / TALES.” Underneath the open book appears a manuscript upon which rests an inkwell and a quill pen. The date “1942” is written in the bottom left corner of the manuscript. To the right of the book appears a mailbox with “R. R. / 4” written on the door. On the side of the mailbox appear the words “Knoll Farm / J. HARRY SMITH.” Below and to the right of mailbox appears an inverted triangle with the initials “W W” at the base of the triangle and the initial “A” at the top of the triangle.
Owner was J. Harry Smith, a press representative and later the press manager for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Smith is the author of a pamphlet entitled “The Canadian Pacific, A National Institution: Brief summary of the company's history delivered as an address before the officers - February, 1935, in the fiftieth year of Canadian Pacific service to Canada” (1935) as well as “Newfoundland Holiday” (1952), “describing a trip from Port aux Basques to St. John’s by train, automobile, boat and on foot.” “The Canadian Pacific, A National Institution” is part of the collection at the Rare Books and Special Collections Library at UBC. The artist is likely William Walker (W. W.) Alexander (1870-1948), a well-known Canadian engraving artist. As a young artist, Alexander studied in the atelier of George A. Reid, at the Art Students' League of Toronto, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and under the direction of Thomas Eakins, before distinguishing himself as an etcher and bookplate maker in his brother’s firm, the Alexander and Cable Lithographing Company of Toronto. Alexander was a member of the Toronto Art Students' League, Society of Graphic Art, The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, and the Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers. Although described by Prescott in his book “A List of Canadian Bookplates: With a Review of the History of Ex Libris in the Dominion” as “empathetically an heraldic rather than a pictorial designer,” Alexander seems to have turned more toward pictorial subject matter later in this career. In his book “Canadian Art: Its Origin and Development,” William Colgate described Alexander’s works as “sympathetic, flexible and imbued with the spirit of confident craftsmanship.” According to “A Dictionary of Canadian Artists,” Alexander put in a regular daily appearance at his place of work until two weeks before his death at the age of 79. The book “Lamb’s Tales” that appears in the bookplate maybe a reference to “Tales from Shakespeare” written by Charles and Mary Lamb in 1807.