Monday, March 31, 2008

Walk This Way

Found on a wall in Florence. With thanks to the photographer :-)


The Agony and The Ecstacy

CDV and Cabinet Cards - The Backs

I've long been fascinated not just by the photos on the front of CDVs and Cabinet Cards but by the typography and designed on the back - or as we like to call it in the trade: the verso! You can tell a lot about a CDV or Cabinet photo without even looking at the photo sometimes just from the back. The primary information of course is who took the photo and where, although sometimes this is a little more tricky than it sounds because a single photographer or company might have two or many offices listed on the back of their cards.

It is also possible, however, to get an idea of the date of the card from the back. On the whole, the simpler the card, the older it might be. The first cards were simply stamped or very simply printed with just a brief note of the photographer. Then, as the studio photo became ever more popular, the designs proliferated. One can sometimes get a hint of date from the design of course - the very aesthetic movement designs with a superfluity of japanese devices, parasols, storks and bamboo would be no earlier than the aesthetic movement itself of course. Other indications of date from the verso of the card would include the practise of some photographers who liked to note awards won at various exhibitions: clearly the card cannoy be earlier than the latest award mentioned on the back.

This kind of dating evidence should only really be used in conjunction with what is on the front of the card. The fashions of the day need to be accounted for when trying to suggest a date for a particular photograph. My own preference is for the simpler, older designs. The later more florid designs can be fun but there is something of the simplicity of letterpress in the older ones which I like.

Obviously, now that Flickr has come into my life, I am able to collect together the backs, as well as the fronts of CDVs and cabinet photos.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vintage Venice

I once had the bright idea that it would be great to publish a book or booklet full of short texts about Venice taken from people's postcards home - this would, of course be an excuse to collect old postcards of Venice. However, the whole plan was scuppered by the realisation that people really didn't write much if anything by way of messages on early postcards and that, when it comes down to it, I've never needed much of an excuse to collect anything!

So it was a delight today, among a handful of Venice postcards at a local fair to find this last one which actually has a message written on it and a wonderfully naive one at that: "I do not think I have sent you think picture of St Marks The Cathedral of Venice - It is a beautiful place. We go about in Gondolas here as we are surrounded by canals and there are no horses of carriages."

Words in Stone

Just to hark back a moment to Good Friday and to that walk on an afternoon that swung between torrential showers and strong sun, here are photos taken of the Crimea monument on the seafront. I rather like the way the names of the battles are so differently shadowed on different sides of the monument. The complete set of pictures is HERE.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thomas Hardy & Mark Cazalet at the Old Stile Press

There's something very exciting about the creation and announcement of a new book, so it was wonderful that this morning a prospectus from Nicolas and Frances at The Old Stile Press came through the letterbox for Green Blades from her mound by Thomas Hardy, 'a selection by Mark Cazalet who also made all the images'.

I've had the opportunity to handle this book and, apart from being immediately and obviously (from across the room) an OSP book - which of course means it is a thing of beauty - it also has some amazing images cut from wood and lino by Mark Cazalet.

I love many of the pictures but the one above is, I think my stand-out favourite simply for the power of the composition and the character of the tomb stone. However, I'm also really drawn to the cover image of two gate post used on the cover and inside because they remind me of a childhood wonder, and also the images for 'The Spell of the Rose'

Do go and look at more pictures of the book

PS. J., thank you for pointing out the final price of the photo below. I have to say I was a little surprised it went quite that high just because of its diminiutive size, but perhaps others knew things about it that I didn't.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fin de Siecle Faces

I begin to see how this Flickr lark could become addictive! This rather joyless looking fellow here is Algernon Charles Swinburne, the first 'fin de siecle face' in my new Flickr set. I'm hoping to fill it with good quality pictures of both the well-known and not so well known characters of Victorian and Edwardian arts and letters. The reference to the fin de siecle is only really because it sounds good, in fact I shall try and be broader than that. At the moment, the small group is somewhat overpopulated with Bensons.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Japanese Cutie

I don't collect Vintage photos for myself in any systematic way. Every now and again, though, a photo turns up that I really like for some reason - and they are not always photos of good looking you men either, just often!

This is one I going to bid for on Ebay but at the time of writing it still has a day and bit to go and is up to £30 or thereabouts which is more than I want to pay, particularly as it is so tiny. However, it is also lovely; it appears to be a very crisp and clear photo which has retained enough contrast and whose subject and is both historically and aesthetically interesting. For as long as it's valid, the link to the auction is HERE.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


This is a rather unusual carte de visite photograph which I've just found in some incoming stock. I don't recall ever before having seen a photo of twins, which this must surely be!

Good Friday Meandering

Despite the fact that all the shops now seem to open on Good Friday, there is something about it here in the UK which still seems a little quiter and more relaxed than most other days. I have this notion that there are certain days of the year which always have the same kind of weather. This is nonsense of course but it is true enough, just often enough for me to continue to believe that Christmas Eve night is always cloudless, cold and crisp, Christmas day is always rather grey and mild with intermittent sunshine. And so, Good Friday by the same account is always, as it was today, bright and sunny but cold (admittedly there were a few fairly heavy downpours during the day also but we leave them to one side for the sake of my meteorological fantasy).

R tells me that this year Easter is earlier than it has been since 1912 and only a few days short of the earliest it can possibly be. Not so surprising then that the forcasters are suggesting there may be snow by Sunday.

Anyway, today was glorious and we drove to the seafront and spent a few moments taking in the bracing sea air and looking across the Solent to an Isle of Wight which appeared shrouded in a glowing mist.

More Tribal Men

Not this time from The National Geographic but from Savage Life in New Guinea. The Papuan in Many Moods by Charles W. Abel, one of the most patronizing, colonial, intellectually straight-jacketed and overbearingly cloying missionary books imaginable. However, sadly, it was often the missionaries who were the first to spend any length of time in some with some of the worlds more remote indigenous peoples and so it is to their books that one has to turn for information and early pictures. This book does have, at least the merit of being well illustrated. There's no publication date but adverts at the back talk about "magazines for 1902". It was published by The London Missionary Society. Many of the photographs appear to be signed 'Montague', strikes me he (I'm guessing a 'he') would be an interesting person to know more about. In the meantime the book provided a new handful of photos for my Ethnic Men set at Flickr.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More National Geographic Goodness

Along with the wonderful New York poster/photograph below, this is one of the maps that The National Geographic published in the inter-war years as 'pull out and keep' goodies. This is of The Races of Europe but there was also one of the classical peoples of Europe which, for the time being I seem to have mislaid.

Monday, March 17, 2008

New York, New York

A little while ago I promised a hiatus on the posts relating to the huge pile of bound National Geographics on my landing. Well, the National Geographics are now gone and I feel I have kept my promise and can now return, albeit briefly, to some of the wonder of the NG in the early 20th Century. In fact, during the inter-war years which is when this little tresure was included as a 'pull out and keep' item. It's a large reproduction of an ariel photograph of New York and, on the back a line drawing key to the photo. I have to say, that as someone who has never been to NY this is really, still a very useful thing. Films, books and TV set in NY bandy around the names of places disctricts like Queens, Brooklyn, Harlem, the Bronx and so on and obviously the visual image of NY is very familiar but matching the two has always been pointless in my head. Now however, - voila! Actually, what I like most about it is the photograph, I love the way that the heart of NY is in lovely crisp focus but that focus slides out as you look further to the edge of the picture.

There may well be more NG pull-out goodness to come...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

PS to Vintage Swim photos

In a kind of PS to the vintage swim posts below, I have today been scanning through The Hampshire Magazine, numerous copies from the late 1960s to the 1980s to see if there is anything in them which makes an individual copy saleable - not much is the answer - although I do now find that I have a copy of the edition with the article about Frederick Rolfe at Christchurch which, before, I had only in a photocopied form. Anyway, I came across these two rather amusing adverts and thought I would add them to the vintage swim ambience of the place recently.

Penguin Poets

On a rather grey and drizzly day R and I spent a morning trawling along the junk-, antique- and bookshops of Southsea. Actually, a very plesant way of spending a little time. A bookshop which is not often open had the door open today and I made away with a nice haul of books: some 1890s numbers for my own shelves, some Anglo-catholic books and books on church organs (which will be for sale), and a couple of the Penguin Poets series. Some of the other books from this haul may yet make it onto the blog in various ways. For now, I'm just showing off the beautiful covers of the Penguin Poets. It's hardly necessary for me to start scanning and uploading these (for I have a good number of the series) since they are already well represented on Flickr. Acejet170, which is a blog you should visit if you have any interest in typography and design, have a really nice set of covers from this series already on Flickr

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More Yellow Typography

These are the latest additions to the Gollancz yellow-jacketed SF collection. And, of course, to the flickr set of their covers. I bought these on ebay from a seller I've used a number of times before and, for anyone intested in modern genre fiction (horror, SF, fantasy etc.) they are an absolute must-know. I can't recommend coldtonneagebooks enough, and although this link take you to their ebay shop they also maintain selling points in a number of other online locations. Every book I've bought from them has been in pristine condition and has been delivered swiftly and safely for a very reasonable price. In related news, The Book and Magazine Collector has agreed to print a letter of mine asking for help with my bibliography of Gollancz SF, as I have had no response at all from the current incumbents of the Gollancz name asking for information or directions to sources of information, I wrote to the magazine asking if they might call for editors, designers, even authors who have anything to do with Gollancz during my period of interest to get in touch. I'm not inordinately hopeful, but you never know.

Now I must away, a friend of mine has recently collected the 12 episodes of Brideshead Revisited that were recently being given away with a national newspaper and I am completely entranced and addicted. Also, I'm rereading Neil Gaiman's The Sandman graphic novels so, given that it's already nearly 2a.m. I hope you'll excuse me for the night.

Vintage Swim

Vintage Swim

Who links to my website?