Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1930s Abstract Architecture

In the last week I've put up a couple of posts with work from a folder of material by Gwendolen K Young: patterned papers and book jacket designs. Also in the folder, sometimes on just scraps of paper, are these bizarre and brilliant abstractions, mainly from architectural shapes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Authors and Others: Photographs. A Catalogue

If you are on my mailing list then you will have already had the chance to look through this latest catalogue and many of you have and thank you for your purchases. However, if you are not on the mailing list (and you have to ask yourself why you aren't as all it requires is an email to say you want to be!) then I am now making the catalogue open to all. a catalogue of photographs from the Eileen Clarke agency in London in the middle of the Twentieth Century, most of them taken by Knightsbridge photographer, Clayton Evans. There are some very well known names here as well as many who ought to be better known. It has been a fun selection to catalogue, getting to know a little more about some of these glamorous and interesting people. A number of the images have appeared on Front Free Endpaper before in their own right.

Seriously, if you are not on the mailing list, send me an email and I will make sure you get to hear about catalogues, short lists and new publications as soon as they are released.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Vintage Photos: Irish Travellers near Belfast in 1958

These photographs of Irish Travellers, sometimes called gypsies, that's I have acquired recently, were taken in March 1958. The presence of a policeman in some of them and the date on the captions on the verso being the same on all of them, suggests that these were taken by someone in in official capacity at the Ministry of Commerce land at Tillysburn in Belfast. But if anyone was ever under the impression that the nomadic lifestyle was somehow romantic or 'free' these photographs ought to put them right. The grinding poverty is evident in all these images. I find them both sad and captivating at the same time.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Baron Corvon in a 1970s Look and Learn

Readers from the UK of a certain age, and probably the men to be honest, will get a little frisson of recognition at the banner above, I'm sure. Look and Learn was almost ubiquitous in the 1970s in newsagents, libraries and schools: the educational magazine for kids with lots of pictures to "make learning fun". I was surprised therefore to discover the other day that they had, in 1973, a two page article on Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo. For a moment I couldn't think why it would have appeared out of nowhere but then remembered that Peter Luke's play Hadrian VII was contemporary with this and sure enough the popularity of the play is the hook on which the article is hung.
The title is perhaps a little unfair and blunt "The Writer Who Hated Everybody". Look and Learn wasn't the kind of magazine to give bylines but despite a few errors of fact this is clearly written by someone who knows their Corvine apples. And it is worth its paper and ink for the illustrations alone. The one immediately below shows Corvo writing himself as the Pope in Hadrian the Seventh. The image of Rolfe is taken from the same photograph of Rolfe in the study of Dr Hardy at Oxford as was used on the cover of Robert Scoble's recent book, Raven. The Turbulent World of Baron Corvo. The other images illustrate the story of Rolfe falling into the canal that he wrote as one of his three Venetian tales that were originally published in Blackwoods Magazine. How apocryphal the story is we will never know but it seems unlikely that in many years of boating about Venice Rolfe didn't end up in the drink at some point accidentally and as a strong and regular swimmer, getting to the side, pipe still in his mouth, wouldn't have been out of the question. On the whole, a wonderful ephemeral find.

Monday, April 14, 2014

1930s Polish Folk Dances

Also from a box of ephemera from a recent auction are these gloriously camp images from the 1930s illustrating various Polish Folk Dances. They come as twenty images printed on loose cards and inserted into one side of a card folder and on the other side, loose cards with the music and sometimes lyrics for various polish folk tunes. The artist was Irena Lukaszewicz. A little bit niche I grant you! but what colour and life!

The "B" Strong Chart and Book

I love these two piece of ephemera, harvested from a box of auction bits and pieces. Aimed at boys obviously and presented with the boy's magazine The Wizard. And if you were wondering what the advice is on 'how to overcome a bully'... basically it boils down to fight back... and includes detailed and diagrammatic information about how to do so!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Angus McBean: A Personal Photo Album

In an amazing auction sale back in April of last year, Bury St Edmunds auction house Lacy Scott & Knight sold a collection on photo albums by legendary photographer of the mid-twentieth century, Angus McBean. Whereas you and I might once have received our snaps back from the chemist and stuck them willy-nilly into a photo album, as you might imagine, the personal albums of such a luminary of the photographic world are a little different. McBean prints his own photos, of course, to much larger sizes then usual and he is able to use the technology available to him as a professional to enlarge his own photos and add titles to create photographic covers for the albums as well.

Just how different from your average Joe these albums were is now amply demonstrated as one of them appears in the latest catalogue from art dealers Abbot and Holder Ltd and they have had the whole album put online as a digital book you can flick through (well worth clicking on 'full screen' too). The album is a record of a trip through Italy with friends in a VW Camper Van in 1958 - with a fair bit of vintage swimwear interest as well!


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Clarity of the Tintype Photograph

There is something about the tintype photo that I love, despite the uniformity of tone because of the dark metal ground, they often have a clarity you just don't get in other photos of the period and even when they start to decay like the one above, they do so in interesting ways. These two are from an collection I bought yesterday and show the same family at the beach a few years apart.

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