Friday, April 29, 2011

Flowers in Blue

There's a gallery/bookshop in Portland called Ampersand who specialise in "vintage printed and visiaul material". It's a great idea. They curate regular shows of often quite specialist and fascinating vintage material. This recent show is an exhibition of cyanotype photographs of flowers by an anonymous photographer in about 1900.

It's easy to develop (no pun indtended) a softspot for cyanotype images, it's one of those messy, hands-on kinds of processes that just about anyone can have a go at. These images are something of a cut above the ordinary however, a very unusual find and a beautiful one.

Check out the Ampersand Blog also...

Vintage Nude

I don't often post photographic nudes on this blog, simply because I want the widest possible group of people to feel able to access it without fear of what they might find: I hope all will agree that this adorably beautiful young man is suitably inoffensive in his birthday suit. Two vintage photos that arrived today, wouldn't you just love to know the story behind them?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vintage photos: All American Cuteness

Well, I say all-American, in fact, although I bought these from the US in amongst some others, at least one of these has a stamp on the back indicating a German or Austrian origin. A handsome bunch wherever they come from...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vintage School Posters: Macmillan Geography

If you went to school in the UK between the 1940s and the 1970s, there's a good chance that these posters, or the style of them at least will be familiar to you.

These are images from the Macmillan Geography Series that was used, almost as wallpaper, in classrooms across the country. It was a time when Geography was all about knowing the principal produce of a place: grapefruit from Florida, Apples from British Columbia, Pineapples from Australia. It was a time when it was thought important that the average British child knew what a cement quarry looked like from the air and knew about refrigerated transcontinental trains. It was equally a time when values were very different to our own today. In the South African posters the black workers toil smilingly in the sun whilst the white overlords look on benevolently, it was a time when children were shown the inside of American fur farms on their classroom walls, alongside the pictures of industrial whaling ships.

The phrase 'window on another time' is probably overused but it seems quite justified looking through the window-sized posters of the Macmillan Geography!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

News From Callum James Books: Henry Scott Tuke

An Interview with Henry Scott Tuke by Flora Klickmann.
H. S. Tuke was, and remains, one of the top-flight painters of the male nude in the canon. His paintings of the young men of Falmouth are well known and heavily collected. He was also an extremely accomplished nautical painter. This interview was conducted and first published in 1895 when Tuke was at the height of his powers and beginning to enjoy the fruits of his success as a professional painter. It is a fascinating peek into his world. We have reproduced nearly all the illustrations that were used with the original article, including some that were created for it. 22pp sewn into a printed card cover with a colour frontispiece.

The book costs 9.99 GBP with postage in the UK of 1.00 GBP, in the EU 2.00 GBP and anywhere else in the world 3.00 GBP. Payment can, as usual, be made to this email address through Paypal (you do not have to have a paypal account to use this facility, just a credit/debit card) or as a sterling cheque made payable to "S. Martin" and sent to Callum James Books, 31A Chichester Road, Portsmouth, PO2 0AA.

Rare and Secondhand Mailing List

You'll be aware, of course, from reading this blog, that as well as publications, Callum James Books also deals in rare and secondhand books, photographs and ephemera. We are intending to start a mailing list, about once a month, with a mini-catalogue of new acquisitions and items of interest. It is likely there will be 15-25 items each time, that these will be offered through the mailing list before being put on sale on the Internet more widely, and there may be significant discounts on some items for buyers through this format. You can expect a number of items related to gay history and literature and a number with a broader appeal: the kinds of items which are highlighted on this blog from time to time. If you would like to be on this mailing list please drop us a line to

Equally, if you don't already receive email details of each new CJB publication as they come out and you would like to, please use the same address and make sure to say which mailing list(s) you would like to be added to.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Greek Red Figured Plate: Man and Boy

This plate is something of a marvel, made in Athens about 2,500 years ago, by one of the first people to learn the technique of red-figure painting, and he actually signed it: Epiktetos. Of course, this comes from my recent British Museum visit and I was amazed to read that so fine is this particular artists work that it is possible to identify even his unsigned work.

Biscuit Bookmark

Bicuits and books - what more could a man ask for in life...?

Hybrid Flirtation

This rather charming full page illustration in an 1890s edition of the Pall Mall Magazine accompanies one of the strangest, yet most charming, stories I've ever come across in a Victorian publication. In essence, the narrator simply observes a young serving woman in an Italian courtyard garden coming face to face with the marble faun that forms a fountain from which she has been sent to draw water.

"With perfect ease and grace of posture, his body well posed on his caprid legs, he held a dilated gourd in his arms, and this he pressed so naturally to his chest... He seemed extremely youthful; his downy beard was rare and short, and the hairs scarce upon his body. His mouth was rather broad to be sure; but then I noticed that it did not quite reach to his small peaked goat's ears, as would have been correct in one of his kind..."

The two spend a moment looking into each other's eyes and then the maid returns to her duties, the whole story cannot be more than 400 words. The story 'Hybrid Flirtation' is by Marchesa Theodoli, who appears to have written one book and left no other mark upon the Internet at least.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Yesterday was spent in London catching up with friends and also spending time in the British Museum. You may expect to see a few more photographs taken there, on this blog, in the near future.

These I was rather taken with although I'm at a loss to explain why. These grotesque figures were found in their hundreds on the site of the ancient city of Smyrna and date to about 100-200BCE. Their context is unclear: perhaps they were votive offerings, charms against the evil eye, perhaps they had some connection to healing. Certainly they have a very quirky charm about them.

Male Life Studies - one I missed earlier

One rather handsome chap I left out of my last post...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More Male Life Studies

Since October last year I have been slowly divesting myself of a huge pile of male and female life studies and other material I bought in auction, the work of an art student called Barabara Long at the Beckenham School of Art during WW2. Another afternoon spent preparing listings for Ebay and you, dear reader, get the cast offs posted here. I've never claimed she was an unrecognised genius but she was very competant and produced some pleasant looking work.

Magic Walking Stick Illustrations

John Buchan wrote just the one childrens' fiction book: The Magic Walking Stick. In one of those odd moments of synchronicity recently two different copies have passed over my desk. One of them, I realise I have even had on this blog before: that copy was published with the Arabian Nights. The other copy I have on my desk now is the 1932 first edition which has illustrations by J Morton Sale. I was struck by how two illustrators can present such different atmosphere's for one story. I like very much the bright, retro look of the colour illustrations by Soper, but they wouldn't make me want to read the book. On the other hand, Morton Sale's illustrations have an almost Cthuloid, Lovecraftesque feel to them which very much make me now want to find out what thrilled the boys of 1932.

Friday, April 15, 2011


This little gem, anonymous as far as I can see, was not actually a frontispiece, don't know why I titled this post that! but a small lithographic vignette on the title page of a late 19th century edition of The Golden Treasury.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two Handsome Soldiers

Not much more to say about this image than the title. This is from a small collection of photos of WW1 soldiers - always poignant. I thought there was something rather attractive about these two. [click the image to enlarge]

Fake Night Sky

I'm still a devotee of the Astronomy Picture of the Day website but these are not from there. These are three postcards from the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It's the top picture which I really liked: it seems so abstract and evocative. The two pictures below are also interesting I suppose but the interior shot mostly since it turns out to be a photograph of a model (which took two years to build) of the planetarium and not a picture of the actual instrument at all! The place itself is still going strong.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If I had a Tumblr

I don't normally recommend other blogs, but for a couple of reasons I am pointing you towards Stuff Doer - Doing Stuff Since 1975. Reason One: He's reblogged a fair number of images from here at Front Free Endpaper and has had the courtesy to source them and to link back here and has, over time, contributed significantly to my hit count (many thanks). Reason Two: if I had a Tumblr - for those who don't know, it's like a blog but cooler - this is what mine would look like, a fantastic selection of vintage photography including lots of good looking guys with a smattering of other themes and about 2% NOT SAFE FOR WORK images. Help me return the favour, go and boost his hit counter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Victorian Flowers

How's this for a display? They are all chromolithographs from a Victorian gardening magazine. This is not even a half of the total. Can you imagine a sleek modern interior with one large wall covered with these in identical frames, carefully arranged in a huge block of colour on the wall?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Japanese Factory Workers

Another glorious day on the south coast and, to be honest, we've been making the most of it: car boot sale, antiques centre, book fayre and a look round a 12th century country church all achieved today and home before 2.30pm.

One of the very few acquisitions today was a set of 12 photos showing Japanese men working in a factory. The only way I know them to be Japanese is that one piece of equipment has the name Yokohama on it, otherwise they are completely devoid of any instructive notes or captions. I'm guessing they are engaged in some form of metal work but I can't be sure. From the dress of the only European man to appear in them, I would say these are about 1910-20. Remarkable pictures really...
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