Thursday, September 03, 2015

Jean Cocteau Decorates a Church

Most people's knowledge of Jean Cocteau as a visual artist is related to his films and to his simple line drawings of nude men with often very homoerotic themes. It comes as something of a surprise to some therefore to discover that he also created mural decorations for a number of churches. The book above was reprinted in 1994 to mark the 30th anniversary of his death and includes a series of photos of the unique and peculiar decorations at St Pierre, Villefranche-sur-mer on the Riviera. The actual murals have colour in them and Google will help you find hundreds of photos of them if you want to see them in that way but I think the black and white of these reproductions actually has something rather fine about them.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Frederick Rolfe and Vincent O'Sullivan - A Slight Ex-libris Connection

There are some little piece of paper that can really connect us to the past. In this case, a somewhat battered ex-libris plate from St Mary's College, Oscott. At the time this bookplate was in use, two of the great names of the 1890s were both in residence, one as a schoolboy, the other as a seminarian and teacher. St Mary's was, and remains, a Roman Catholic seminary, but in the late 1800s it had a school for catholic boys as well as a full-blown seminary for training men for the priesthood. Sometimes the seminarians acted at teachers in the boys' school. So It was here that Frederick Rolfe (soon to be styling himself Baron Corvo and writing astonishingly baroque fiction) was, for a brief time before being asked to leave, a seminarian and, at the same time a teacher to Vincent O'Sullivan whose morbid musings on art and life would go on to fill such an important place in the corpus of the 1890s. Whatever book this came from in the college library may well have passed through the hands of one or both of them!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Vintage Men

Always a good way to jump start the postings again after a bit of a break with a handful of hunky chaps from some distance in the past. None of these guys reside in my collection but I have swept them together from various parts of my hard drive for your delectation. The file names all suggest that they came from the Internet originally but some of them maybe some time ago. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

1960s Amatory Unorthodoxy

One of the things that is invaluable to a bookdealer who has a specialism, is the ephemera of those who have gone before along the same paths: book catalogues, prospectuses, articles and so on...  So I was delighted to get hold of this folded catalogue from the early 1960s from a mail order firm in Paris. "L. Henry" is offering what were, at the time, new books and other items. There is some mention of gay books here but on the whole it has a solidly heterosexual bias, nonetheless it makes for a fascinating read. I like, in particular, the distinction between Romans Vivant and Romans Tres Oses. It's interesting to note that Roger Peyrefitte's Les Amitiés Particulières is there in the daring section along with Les Mauvais Anges by Eric Jourdan, both sharing some fairly unlikely company on that part of the list.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Vintage Swimwear

We haven't had a vintage swimwear post forever, well for a few days at least. So here are a few of the new arrivals to the collection here at Callum James Heights. I have decided to assume that the chap above is sporting a nice tight pair of speedos... he seems the type! All these photos now safely reside in my collection save for the bottom two which come to you courtesy of one of your fellow readers of Front Free Endpaper who tells me the most delightful story about the guys in the photo of which I will tell you only that they are brothers, that this is the south of France and that it is the early 1950s! 

All contributions of selfies or others in vintage swimwear are gratefully received of course...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Richard Kennedy illustrates Crispin

Meet Crispin, the star of this 1975 book by William Herschell who is perhaps better known for his previous childrens' book King Lizard. Crispin in 13 and has grown up happily on a farm until now when he is told that he is not the natural son of the farmer and his wife and his 'real' mother is claiming him back.  

Regular readers will know that I am somewhat enamored by this style of illustration so prevalent in childrens' books of the 60s-80s and, despite all my pleading, no-one has been able to come up with an apposite and pithy name for the style. These are by Richard Kennedy, a prolific illustrator of (mainly) childrens' books whose career began at the age of 16 in the print room of the Hogarth Press with Leonard and Virginia Woolf, an experience which he later wrote about and illustrated in his book A Boy At The Hogarth Press. After the war he began to make his career in illustration and his output included over 40 books for 'backward' readers published by Benn as well as nearly 20 titles by Eilis Dillon. Other authors illustrated include Eleanor Farjeon, Moncia Edwards and Elizabeth Gouge

What is noticeable about the images in this book are how well he had observed the many odd and difficult bodily positions that a 13 year old can get into, many of which positions most adults have completely forgotten about, let alone the emotions they attend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mid 1960s DIY Toys

These amazingly colourful plates come from a brilliant book that tells you how to make toys and models out of paper, card and wire. Of course, it's the painting of these that makes them quite so spectacular. If you think I haven't tried one, you're mad: there's a slightly more restrained looking fish than the ones below sitting on my mantle right now!

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