Victorian Bookmarks -
So Lovely and Easy to Make

Victorian bookmarks, or book-markers, are so lovely, don’t you think? And who wouldn't want more than one? Victorian ladies loved making bookmarks because they were easy to make, useful and always well received as gifts.

The Victorian bookmark, below, was in an 1880’s book I purchased. Whether it was made in the 1800’s or at a later date, I do not know. I do know it is made in accordance to the instructions in that particular book. It is not fancy but to know someone spent their time to make it and somehow I received it, makes it SO special to me. I hope to someday stash a small piece of embroidery into my old books and when the time comes and they find another home, the person finding it will know that the book she/he has was once cherished and used by someone who shared his/her love for Victorian embroidery.

This particular bookmark was painted instead of embroidered. Some ladies talents were not so much in embroidery as they were in painting and this item allowed them to show their painting skills. 

victorian bookmark painted
close up Victorian painted bookmark

The wording is hard to read due to the writing being in light yellow on the dark golden yellow background. It says "Search the Scriptures" an popular phrase used during the Victorian era and particularly applicable to a bookmark used in their bibles.

Below are some Victorian bookmark ideas you might want to try. These instructions were printed in the 1880’s. Of course, some of the items, such as types of paint, etc., are not available today so you will have to substitute what is available now. I’m sure you can be just as creative as the wonderful ladies who came before us.


Published in Mrs. Leach’s Fancy Basket Work. Edited for easy on-line reading.

embroidered bookmark

Embroidered book-markers are an old fashion revived, and have the advantage of taking up so little room that they are capital things to pack up in an envelope to send as trifling gifts to friends abroad. 

There are such a multitude of pretty dainty manners in which they may be made, and all kinds of odds and ends of ribbons, silks, &c., can be turned to account for them. We will give a minute description of one form, and then it will be seen how very readily it may be improved upon and altered to suit individual taste. 

We have seen them made of a strip of satin ribbon about two inches and a half wide, and thirty inches long. This is the size for use in a large book about the size of a bound volume of Punch or the Athenaeum. The ends of this ribbon should have an embroidered design on them for about the distance of four inches of their length. If the stitches look very unsightly on the wrong side, they may be covered by a thin lining of silk put on very neatly and very flat. 

Now fold the ribbon exactly in half, take a little piece of smooth stick (part of a pocket-book pencil will answer

well), put it between the two folds of ribbon where the fold is made at the top, and secure it in place with a few invisible stitches, putting also a stitch or two at the sides to prevent it from slipping out there. 

The two ends of the ribbon look well edged with a tiny gold bullion fringe or two or three wee tassels. 

If preferred, the book-markers may be ornamented with lustra painting or with silk transfers, or the monogram of the owner may be traced in gold braid or very fine gold silk cord. 

If intended for use in a devotional book, a cross cut out of white perforated card is the most appropriate style of ornamentation. The cross must first be cut the size it is required in the cardboard, then another cut just one hole smaller all round than the first, then another just one hole smaller, and so on, sticking one cross over the other with gum until the top cross is as small as possible. The whole cross should then be gummeded to the ribbon. 

Sometimes a second cross just like the first is fastened to the ribbon exactly on the reverse side to correspond with it, thus forming a very handsome finish for the ends of the book-marker. The Maltese, St. Andrew's, and other forms of crosses may also be managed in the same way.

Victorian Bookmark #2

embroidered bookmark pennant style

Another form of bookmarker may be made out of American leather prettily painted. The leather is cut in the shape of along triangle, then two long slits are cut at the sides (as shown in the sketch), so as to make a sort of flap. 

Victorian Bookmark #3

Another way of making these is to cut out with a very sharp pair of scissors a roughly shaped hand from the piece of leather and leave this also loose from the rest in flap fashion. Various other shapes may be managed in a similar manner. 

Kid, if it can be obtained, is a very nice material to use for the purpose. They may also be made of cardboard, on which white or cream-coloured satin has previously been stuck, and this, of course, is as pleasant to paint on as the kid.

Whether it is embroidered or decorated with paint, a beautiful Victorian bookmark is sure to be a welcomed addition to anyone’s book collection. Make one (or more) for yourself to use, or as a gift, or even as a gift tag to make that gift you’re giving extra special.

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