This is Billy Fox. We know that because someone has written his name on the back. But that is almost all we know. The same person who knew his name, and presumably more about him too, speculates on the back of the photo that this might have been taken during the war. He has come to rest in my collection of photographs of young men in vintage swimwear.
You may have noticed a short hiatus in the posting here of late. This is because I have been up to my eyeballs in the creation of a new catalogue. Of course, if you are on my mailing list you know this already because you have spent the evening, I'm sure, happily scrolling through the 200 items on 36 fully illustrated pages and deciding which lovely things to spend your money on. If you're not on my mailing list, and by now I'm sure you'll be asking yourself why you aren't, you can come back here and find a link to the catalogue tomorrow evening.
Members of the Callum James Books mailing list get first look at all my public catalogues, and there have been 8 of those in 2013 alone, but they also receive notifications every now and again of short lists, some 20-30 items of interest, that are only available to members of the mailing list. So, it's a select band but to be on it, all you have to do is ask. There's an email link at the top right-ish of this page... use it and ask to be on the mailing list. It's not exactly high volume and there's no high pressure sales, it's just a chance to get a first look at the stuff I sell.
In recent months I have come across a number of these fold-out models from the early twentieth century. This one, perhaps is the best so far. We might have to question why the "Household Physician" would be looking to dissect a human head or hand but that aside, tucked into very simple card covers are two wonderful fold out models. Every time you think you have found the last flap to hold back there's more. These are the images from the "Head" model:
My buying for the vintage swimwear collection has slowed down a little of late, nonetheless, every now and again something takes my fancy and this is what arrived in this post this morning to brighten my Saturday.
The mantra of all kind of collecting is "condition, condition, condition..." Well, I've never been quite so sure and I think, actually, there are a lot of collectors out there of all kinds of things who would agree with me. I'm particularly keen on photographs and ephemera that 'show' they've had a bit of a life. These scraps of paper fell from a completely unremarkable, in fact frankly a bit crappy, copy of The Wind in the Willows. They are nothing more than someone's copies of E. H.Shepard's original illustrations for the book but they record maybe a couple of happy hours someone once spent doing something of no real consequence... the definition of ephemera!
2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of film-maker, diarist, activist, painter, gardener, saint and poet, Derek Jarman: one of the greatest Queer figures of the Twentieth Century. A number of events are planned but, as far as I can tell, this is the only publication to mark the anniversary.
I have said it before, and no doubt will say it again, Derek Jarman's published writings are some of my favourite books, period. For a man with such a fierce and righteous anger at the established forms of religion, the diaries are perhaps some of the most spiritual books I have ever read. Amazing then to discover that there was also a book of poetry. A Finger in the Fishes Mouth. There are poems inserted into almost all of the published diaries but, back in 1972 a small selection of his poems were put together with images from his postcard collection. That seventies edition is now almost unfindable but it is reproduced here in facsimile by the Test Centre Press who have done a great job reproducing the text and images with just enough topping and tailing in the form of both comment and information.
The poems themselves have an imagist sense of stillness at times. There is a real wit beneath many of them enough to make the reader smile and they exhibit an almost unrepeating volcabulary that rises sometimes to a near Shakespearean playfulness.
Test Centre is to be congratulated on a really important and beautiful contribution to remembering Jarman in this anniversary year.
John Gambril Nicholson was a Uranian poet, a schoolmaster and a photographer. But, intriguing though his life and work is, not even his greatest fans would argue that he was a major literary figure. So when one comes across a photograph of a character like this, they can be quite scarce things. How disappointing then to see it so ravaged by time. 'Silvering' is a process that can happen to any silver-based photographic emulsion on paper over time: the silver leeches out of the emulsion and disfigures the image. So although clearly labelled and dated, the images is gone. Or is it...
The photograph below was one I have just taken of the back of the paper when it is held up to the light at an angle. It turns out that JGN, in 1894, wasn't an unhandsome twenty-eight year old!
John Kettelwell is not the most well-known of illustrators but I've had this copy of The Story of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (Knopf, New York: 1928) for many years and have meant to share it here for almost as long. I don't really know why I haven't until now except that each time I pick the book up I become more interested in enjoying the illustrations and the story than in writing about it. Anyway, the other day I came across an illustrated copy of Stephen Leacock's Nonsense Novels and recognised the style instantly as Mr Kettelwell, so I was prompted, finally, to post some scans of this wonderful book. Too easy to say he's like Beardsley, he's no imitator, there is real imagination and style here all of his own.
Those who enjoyed the Story of the Emperor and Antony by Major Raven-Hart a few days ago, and many of you did if my inbox is anything to go by, will be delighted to know that the incomparable Mark Valentine has produced this fantasy stamp to commemorate the journey of the good Major up the Irrawaddy. At the same time Mark has introduced me to the wonderful world of fantasy stamps, artistart stamps and other niche philately (I think I may be having a go myself at some point!)
The secondhand booktrade is awash with books on 'how to draw', and in particular, 'how to draw people'. One of the things I intend to protest about should I ever reach the pearly gates along with why I never learnt to tap-dance, is why was I never any good at drawing. Books like this don't help! I assume they must be helpful to some people or they wouldn't continually be produced but I just can't see it.
This one, however, stood out. Not because it magically transformed me into da Vinci: I've not picked up a drawing pencil for years. Rather because, for once, the example drawings had some real style about them. This is Drawing the Human Figure by Arthur ZaidenBerg published in New York in 1944, which explains the somewhat Art Deco tone to the drawings. The photographs are rather accomplished too and have a separate credit on the title page to Berenice Abbott which is unsurprising given the status of this standout photographer known for her views of New York architecture and her portraits of the European literati of the 1920s
I am a bookcollector, bookdealer, publisher and writer living in Portsmouth on the South Coast of the UK.
This blog is my personal space for the recording of my numerous interests including science-fiction, victorian and vintage photography, gay literature, book design, typography, homoerotic artwork, the Amazon river, the books of Frederick Rolfe (Baron Corvo), Forrest Reid, sundry gay Victorian and Edwardian characters, Slash Fiction, Samuel R Delany, Vintage swimwear, Willard Price, Venice, and so on...
Alongside all of that you also get a personal journal of life and memoir and the self-therapy you have come to know and love from bloggers.