A blackbook is a little black address book for keeping the phone numbers of girls (useful for booty calls). Some guys keep these books alphabetized by first name for easy one night stand reference.

A blackbook is also a sketch book kept by a graffiti artist. A true blackbook is a bound book, but some artists prefer binders filled with removable pages. A graffiti artist’s blackbook is most likely a highly incriminating piece of evidence, as it usually contains the various monikers the artist has painted all over the city.

Most blackbooks are just 8.5”x11” or 11”x17” bound sketchbooks from an art supply store. Strathmore is a popular brand. There are also graffiti-specific blackbooks, which feature outlines of trains on their pages. These are for true freightaholics, I have never personally liked them much.

blackbook philosophy
There are a couple schools of thought on how a blackbook should be kept and what it should be. To some a blackbook is no more than a loose sketchbook, totally random scribbling that would happen on napkins or school books if not for the blackbook. These can also turn into more of a scrapbook, with flix and papers pasted in. I find these the most interesting type, but only if the artist has the talent to pull it off. To other people their blackbook is their portfolio, with only the best material deserving a place between the covers. People like this usually use binders with removable pages. It is common for graffiti writers to sign each other’s blackbooks.

The “Black Book” was what the British called the Sonderfahndungsliste G.B. (“Special Search List Great Britain”), a list of 2820 individuals to be rounded up and placed in “protective custody” by the Gestapo following a German invasion of Britain in World War II. The list was compiled by the RSHA, the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (“Reich Central Security Office”). Charged with overseeing the operation was SS officer Frank Six, formerly dean of economics at the University of Berlin. After the war, Six was in prison for unrelated war crimes until 1952.

Many of the British citizens included bragged about their placement on the list, and even their “ranking”, though the list was alphabetical. Among the politicians, authors, and others included were Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Noel Coward, H.G. Wells, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, C.P. Snow, Robert Baden-Powell (Boy Scout founder and former intelligence operative), David Low (a cartoonist noded for his satirical depictions of Adolf Hitler), and Lady Astor.

Among the more puzzling inclusions were Bernard Baruch (an American political advisor), Paul Robeson (an American living in Europe), Aldous Huxley (a Brit living in America), and Sigmund Freud (not living anywhere because he was dead). Perhaps the most prominent exculsion was George Bernard Shaw, on the grounds that he had written an essay promoting peace.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Espionage, ed. Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen, 1997.

Black" book` (?).


One of several books of a political character, published at different times and for different purposes; -- so called either from the color of the binding, or from the character of the contents.


A book compiled in the twelfth century, containing a description of the court of exchequer of England, an official statement of the revenues of the crown, etc.


A book containing details of the enormities practiced in the English monasteries and religious houses, compiled by order of their visitors under Henry VIII., to hasten their dissolution.


A book of admiralty law, of the highest authority, compiled in the reign of Edw. III.

Bouvier. Wharton.


A book kept for the purpose of registering the names of persons liable to censure or punishment, as in the English universities, or the English armies.


Any book which treats of necromancy.


© Webster 1913.

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