Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Perfect Vintage Swim

I was delighted to add this one to my collection recently, combining as it does: a cute young man, vintage swimwear and a camera to reference the interest in vintage photography... a perfect image made even better by the utterly peculiar presence of a wrecked ship in the background.

Ricordo di...

There is a whole genre of well, postcards I suppose, which come in card covers and look like small books and, within, have a long concertina style piece of paper, folded to make pages, on which is printed a whole series of photographs taken from postcard views of the place concerned. You get these from all over the world and in a number of different formats of course and the Italians seemed particularly keen on producing them: these very early 20th-century ones seem to me to be worth celebrating as much for their covers as for their contents.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vintage Boxing in Pyjamas

Well, it was a Bank Holiday today in the UK and Bank Holidays in this part of my life have come to represent days on which there is an unending trail around antique and collector fairs... however, there are compensations and this photo has got to be one of them.

Gollancz Once More

The above was another Car Boot Sale find in the last couple of weeks but I scan it for you here really only as a way of introducing the fact that the good burghers of Abebooks have recently written an article all about Gollancz and their yellow typographical wonders... After banging on for so long about how cool these things are it's nice to see someone else enjoying the yellow-goodness. Obviously, the point of the article is to highlight some books for sale from Abe but there ain't nothing wrong in that and clicking the book covers at the bottom of the page will take you to some examples of how badly the prices in a market can get detatched from the buying power of its customers!

The Boy's Own Book of Warships

To me, this is just a wonderful object, a book so completely happy in its own time, i.e. the 1950s, that it feels just great about having all its illustrations in purple and blue, yellow and black. The illustrations, and in fact the text were both both by D. F. McDowell. This was a find at a Car Boot Sale recently and, I think, just goes to prove that there are still inexpensive but vibrant and exciting bits of retro design out there for the plucking.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Anyone who has attempted to email me this week will have, I'm sorry, received an automated 'out of office' reply... well I'm back! And what a glorious week of doing nothing in Dorset, specifically, on Dorset's Jurassic Coast at Charmouth (see above), just along from Lyme Regis. It was a week of writing, hanging out with my best friend, walking up enormous hills, drinking a fair amount of Glenmorangie Lasanta Whisky, a bit more writing, and generally doing nowt very much...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Vintage Swim

This is one of the nicest vintage swimwear images I've seen for a long time. Sadly, I was the underbidder on Ebay but I was already getting carried away into the realm of silly money when I stopped bidding.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Scout Camp

Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase...!

Gay Pulp

This is just a selection of the gay pulp titles available on ebay at the moment. I had a fun few minutes tracking down some of these wonderfully sensational paperback covers. The 'genre' of gay pulp is actually more a matter of presentation than of a similarity of style. These books, dating from the 50s and 60s range from out and out erotica, to faux documentaries/scientific studies, to real literature such as the work of Rodney Garland and Andre Tellier. They are a great way to get into collecting gay literature as they are, for the most part, still quite inexpensive. For the works of Phil Andros (aka Sam Steward et. al.) you have to pay a little bit of a premium now, on the back of a biography and the publication of his journals.

Ian Young's Out in Paperback is a brilliant analysis of the iconography of these book covers based on a huge collection that he put together at a time when they really were still very cheap, (although why a copy of Ian's book on Amazon should be 190USD I have no idea!) His analysis brings up some fascinating recurring themes in the visual presentation of this kind of book.

And moving away from the visual, how interesting that this small and random sampling should have two 'twilight's and one 'midnight' in the titles. Clearly the covers, the titles, they were all part of a narrative about homosexuality in the mid-20th century and that, in the end, is what makes these books so fascinating.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Short List #1 - Last Chance

The first of my new 'Short Lists' is now ready to go. A monthly (roughly speaking) email plus a link to an illustrated pdf file detailing 15-25 items each time of mainly new stock. Things listed in it will be held back from general sale for a while after the list is issued. Quite a lot will be items relating to gay history and literature but there will be other bits and pieces too - in fact, if you're a reader of Front Free Endpaper, you'll know the kind of thing to expect already. It's to be a varied list in both subject and price with, I hope, a little for everyone.

I will be sending the list out tonight. If you would like to receive it and subsequent lists please just email me at callum@callumjamesbooks.com letting me know you'd like to receive it. If you've come to this post late then feel free to do the same and I'll add you for the future and send you the latest version.


I admit to feeling ambivalent about this weekend: a five hour drive, reading in public, people I don't know very well, a seaside B&B... but as ever, I was worrying unduly. The drive was long, but glorious through the kind of scenery that does good to my soul. The reading, I'm told, was fine, the people were all lovely, without exception, and even the B&B lived up to the slightly shabby stereotype so well it was hard to be concerned by its somwhat 'bedsit' qualities...

In fact it was a weekend both wonderful and challenging. Nearly forty people turned up to the launch for The Book of Ystwyth in the University Art Centre's Bookshop, ably MC'ed by Damian Walford Davies who was also one of the six poets included in the book. Apparently I have now developed such mystique that there was some discussion before I arrived about whether I would turn-up or if I would read - had I known, I would have played a more convincing Diva! However, the readings went well for all of us and the challenging part of the weekend began there, with the poets, watching their commitment to their work, no matter how 'recognised' that work was (and it varied among us). Being among creative types can be a challenge to your own creativity. I have been talking to myself about writing more for nearly a year now and so far, I have managed only this poem, at the end of last year (tellingly inspired by a Pembrokeshire cliff-top walk).

Today was the grand opening of Clive Hicks-Jenkins's Retrospective exhibition at the National Library of Wales. Grand it certainly was: a huge space, described well by one speaker as a cathedral of Clive, with side chapels. A beautifully curated exhibition full of pictures that really glowed on the walls. Despite a long acquaintance with Clive's work I realised actually that I had seen very few 'in the flesh' (and there was quite a lot of flesh!) It makes such an emourmous difference, of course, to see the work full-scale and fall-blast. Sadly, the chances of my getting back before the exhibition closes are minimal so I had to make the most of the opportunity despite the fact that, obviously, today the place was heaving with people. I have met so many lovely people, y'all should go and visit some of their blogs/websites/companies...

Poet: Andrea Selch who, among other things runs The Carolina Wren Press

Ceramicist: Meri Wells

Illustrator: Paul Bommer

Animator: Nick Appleton

And so many more...

Friday, May 06, 2011

Clive Hicks-Jenkins Retrospective and Book Launch

Tomorrow evening I shall be joining most of the other people who have their names on the front of this book at the University Bookshop in Aberystwyth at 6.30 for its launch. A rare public outing for me, I believe I even have to read one of my poems and it's been a while since I've dine that! However, I'm anticipating a fine five hour drive through the wilds of Wales and an evening of good company and art... and then the following afternoon sees the launch of Clive Hicks-Jenkins's career retrospective exhibition at The National Library of Wales - also in Aberystwyth. It promises to be an extremely pleasant weekend and I'm looking forward, in particular, to seeing so much of Clive's work in the flesh and in one place...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Vintage Swim

If the person who commented behind a cloak of anonymity on this blog post would be kind enough to email me using the link at the top of the page, I'd be happy to hear from them...

Great Paintings

R and I were at a car boot sale at the weekend and these two images were in a box of paperwork, the rest of which I have to say was fairly rank. I'm not sure what the dealer who had them thought they were but they are actually monochrome watercolours. Suffice it to say the guy who sold them to me seemed to think they were prints.

There's real quality to both of them. The woman I think is wonderful and unusual that the monochrome is red. The other is an image of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers and, I think, an exceptionally find piece of mid-nineteenth century watercolour painting. Very chuffed to have found them!

Vintage Photos

I thought I had done a bad thing the other day. I was browsing the website of an auction house not far from here and saw a few lots I was interested in but I knew I wasn't going to be able to get to the auction, nor would I be able to view the lots. One of the reasons that mixed lots of books and ephemera and photographs (my kind of thing in other words) can still be had for a good price at auctions is that the photograph on the Internet is nearly always only of a few items in the lot and so only those who have physically viewed the items in the saleroom are likely to bid. Unlike ceramics, for example, where people feel confident bidding online on the grounds of just a photo and a condition report. So it was a bit of a dumb thing to do on my part to leave several hundred pounds-worth of bids on large, mixed lots that I hadn't gone through myself. Fortunately it turned out okay. I only won one of the lots I left bids on and that was a pile of photos and real-photo postcards from the Boer War, World War I and of shipping and naval vessels - some of them very rare items indeed. The gamble paid off.

One of my favourite items is the photo postcard above. It shows HMS Gladiator after she was rammed and sunk in shallow water off Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight in 1908. She was rammed by a civilian steam ship who couldn't see her in a blizzard that reduced visibility to zero. What is particularly nice about this postcard is that it has been sent through the post and the postmark is just 8 days later than the accident. This is a really nice illustration of the way postcards were involved in the dissemination of news. Some disaster occurs or accident happens and the local photographers run to the scene and start churning out postcards of their photographs which then get bought and sent around the country almost immediately.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Kray Twins for Sale

The Kray twins weren't perhaps the nastiest pair of gangsters who ever lived but they certainly ranked up there and, somehow, probably because they owned and operated a night club, they managed to bring a glamour to thuggery that it really doesn't deserve. These photos of Reg on the left and Ron (the gay one) on the right, are believed never to have been published before and come from the estate of a woman who was working with Violet Kray, their mother, on a book that was never finished, about the twins from their mother's point of view.

Boxing was an important part of their early life and here, at 15, they are a few years away from turning professional.

The photos are being sold at Gorringes auction house on 12th May along with piles of Kray memorabilia, letters, photographs and even their paintings.
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