Sunday, June 30, 2013

Few Were Left by Harold Rein

I think this must be the dust-jacket find of the day. It wasn't until I got it home that I looked to see and the artwork is by John Minton: quality will always out! The book itself is trailed really well in the blurb, "A novel which described with grim certainty of detail, the story of a band of people trapped in a New York underground after a monstrous catastrophe has sealed all the exits." Published by Methuen in 1955, it was a first novel: and possibly a last novel too if a short dig around on the internet is anything to go by!

Friday, June 28, 2013

We Are For The Dark by Robert Aickman and Elizabeth Jane Howard

One of the nice things about putting together my recent catalogue of Supernatural fiction was getting to indulge my love of book covers at the same time. There's no denying that the covers on genre fiction can be very hit and miss but when they are right, they are often some of the best examples of book-art available. I rather liked, for example, the first edition of Robert Aickman and Elizabeth Jane Howard's book of ghost stories, We Are For The Dark (above), published by Jonathan Cape in 1951 with a suitably Gothic but understated black and cream cover. So I was also interested to see this paperback copy from 1965 by Mayflower who, it may be honestly admitted, weren't known for the strength of their cover designs! Nonetheless, the pulp paperback version does have a certain style to it.

Review of the Fleet 1887

This is just the most exquisite piece of ephemera to cross my desk for a while. Originally issued as a souvenir of the 1887 Review of the Fleet in Queen Victoria's Jubilee year there is a dainty little envelope which encloses a single sheet potted history of the Union Jack, at the top of which a folding flag demonstrates how the constituent flags of the countries of the Union come together to make the flag. In monstrously good condition as well for something so ephemeral and now over 125 years old.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pencil Portrait

This is a charming, if somewhat foxed portrait of a boy that we found yesterday, again in Lewes. It's only a small little thing but all the more sweet for that and although not perfect there is some real delicacy in some of the drawing. The back is covered in modern brown paper which leads me to think that this is either a marriage of an old frame with an old sketch that someone has put together recently, or a dealer has been into the back to see if there was any information. I haven't opened up the back again yet myself but I may do that to have a look too. 

A Mystery Library

I couldn't resist this photograph yesterday in Lewes, although it remains a little bit of a mystery. There's nothing to tell me where it is or, indeed, what kind of institution we are looking at. There are tantalising clues like the classical statues on top of the bookcases. The long table with a number of chairs suggests a group of people studying together, so perhaps a class room. But does it have a slightly too grown-up air about it to be a school room, maybe a University or College?Wherever it was, it was my kind of place...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Treasure Hunting in Lewes

R and I have been in Lewes all day treasure hunting in the antique shops there. It was a very successful day all things considered and I'm sure I'll be sharing more of what we found there at a later point but for now, this has to be my favourite graphically. Dating from 1957 I love the fact that it is billed on the back cover as "An atlas for the air age".

Friday, June 21, 2013

Two More Author Photos... the men...

Back in May I posted a couple of photos I had bought of two very glamorous women novelists, both of whom had a connection to the kind of books that interest us here at Callum James Heights. At the same time, back in May I also bought these two photographs of male authors. Alistair Maclean I bought for no other reason than nostalgia: his books lined my dad's bookshelves throughout my childhood although I don't remember ever reading one. Anthony Powell I bought largely for the library in the background and the fabulous, master-criminal-esque cat on the lap pose. However, in Ian Young's bibliography of The Male Homosexual in Literature, Powell's books gets a number of mentions.

Both photos are stamped by the Eileen Clarke Agency and by the photographer, Clayton Evans on the verso.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Men Can Be Beautiful Too...

When I posted a few portraits of men by Carl van Vechten a few days ago one of my followers on Twitter retweeted my mention of them with the comment "men can be beautiful too". And as if to prove that point, along with the other photos below, this photobooth photograph of a young American sailor was among the vintage photos that arrived in the post today. What's particularly odd about this photo is that what you see above has been reversed on the computer, the original photo shows the image in mirror reflection with the writing on his cap the wrong way around. I bet he turned a few heads back in the day!

From Sciatica to Ischiorectal Abscesses...

I am loving this print I bought recently showing the "site of pain in relation to disease"! I know, not the most tea-time of subjects but there's no denying they chose a cute model for everything from sciatica to Ischiorectal abscesses. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Portraits by Carl Van Vechten

Carl Van Vechten: Self Portrait

Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) was quite the played in the artistic and literary scene of the early and mid-twentieth century. He was a photographer and writer who first came to my attention as I was reading Justin Spring's masterful biography of Samuel Steward, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist and Sexual Renegade, with whom he had some dealings. Vechten was a patron of a number of black writers and artists connected to the Harlem Renaissance and, despite many years of marriage appears to have been at least bisexual and probably homosexual. Many of his photographs display a dark and shadowy homoeroticism and papers kept sealed until 25 years after his death revealed quite a collection of material about homosexuality gathered there. 

The wonderful Ebay seller Perfectfind, who always manages to find real photographic gems for sale, has clearly come across a treasure trove of original prints by Vechten, often in postcard format and usually blindstamped with Vechten's studio mark. There are a number still being sold but unfortunately, whereas a couple of weeks ago you could buy one for the starting price of 32USD, they have now been 'discovered' and single photos are now selling for in excess of 200 dollars. It is from this treasure that I have stolen the accompanying images. More of Vechten's portraits can be found on his Wiki page. Nonetheless, they may yet prove a wise investment as it seems unlikely that the definitive word has yet been said about this obscure but important figure.

Anonymous young man

Calvin Townsend, Concert Pianist

Charles Nolte as Billy Budd

Donald Windham and Sandy Campbell

Gore Vidal

Jean Marais

Ram Gopal 1

Ram Gopal 2

Suffragette Sketch

Anyone who has anything to do with vintage paper items will know about the abundance of 'autograph books' sometimes called 'friendship books' which flourished from about 1900-1925 and in which you would ask your friends and family to write verses and jokes, to draw doodles and sketches and to paint paintings. Every now and again one comes along with a particularly good piece of art work that raises it above the average but in this case I was delighted to discover a piece of very Edwardian humour on a Suffragette theme.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A little Vintage Swimwear For You...

As is often the case, the notes on the back of photos like these, recently added to the collection, tell us tantalisingly close to nothing, but enough to pique the interest. The top one reads "Sept 48", the bottom, "Juli 47"

I'm sure I've said this before but...

You know when you can't remember if you've actually said something aloud or not? This is the blog equivalent. I was sure I had blogged about this before but searching my own blog I can't find any sign of it. So, if this is all horribly familiar, I apologise.

Standing in a bookshop the other day, for no particular reason except I was waiting for someone and I had finished my own browsing, I picked up a copy of the Faber Book of Love Poetry. I literally flicked a few pages until the book was open in my hand and my eye settled on the poem below. It was one of those breathtaking moments when you realise someone has articulated an interior experience that you know well, but had no words for until that moment. 

I'm not so unworldly that I don't appreciate you can be a good person without sharing my aesthetic. Not everyone is going to be blown away by this poem. But on the off-chance that one or two of you out there are sufficiently similar to me in your taste and experience I offer you a poem by the little-known (but much appreciated by those who do) E. J. Scovell (1907-1999).

In A Wood

I saw my love, younger than primroses,
Sleeping in a wood.
Why do I love best what sleep uncloses,
Sorrowful creaturehood?

Dark, labyrinthine with anxiety,
His face is like a coiled infancy;
Like parched and wrinkled buds, the first of the year,
Thrown out on winter air.

Stiller than closed eyes of a nested bird
Clear from the covert of his sleeping,
One looked out that knows no human word
But gives me love and weeping.


Back now from the metropolis and diving into my inbox with some verve. One of the joys of the big book fair is the sport of catalogue hunting and I have a good half-shelf worth of shiny, silky catalogues to read through at my leisure. So, not wanting you all to miss out on the wonders that are catalogue heaven here are three, not exactly new, catalogues you can view online that seem to cover many of our interests here. The top one is a catalogue of weird and generally supernatural fiction from Adrian Harrington. Then we have the latest short list from Elysium Press and a somewhat older but still current catalogue from the nice people at Arbery Books. Go on, knock yourselves out..!

I won't bore you with a full report on The Olympia Book Fair and I didn't manage, as I thought I might, to blog my way through it. However, I did keep up a reasonably regular series of Tweets so if you are on Twitter please do think about following me @callumjbooks. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

London International Antiquarian Book Fair

For the next few days I shall be in London working for an Antiquarian bookseller on their stand at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair in the National Hall at Olympia. And if you think that sounds grand, it is: a little bit anyway. I've loved being involved with this book fair for the last few years both as a customer and working for my friends The Old Stile Press, who had a stand there last year. It's a great atmosphere full of some absolutely amazing books, the very best you will see grouped together anywhere in the world outside a great library or institution and a great chance to meet other dealers and collectors from around the world.

If you happen to be going along please do send me a quick email or tweet me a Direct Message and I will let you know where to find me so you can come and say hello. I will try and blog and tweet from the fair but it can be some very long days so you'll have to forgive me if it goes a little quiet for the next few days.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Ones That Didn't Get Away

Some of you may remember me expressing my frustration at 'The One That Got Away'. a few days ago when I failed to win an auction on Ebay for an album page of vintage swim photos. Well, as it happens, I did win the auction for another couple of pages from the same album and here, as promised, are the scans...

Saturday, June 08, 2013

1940s Portrait Photos

Seems as though vintage photographs are the flavour of the week here on FFEP. If you're waiting for more book-related goodies I'm sure there will be something for you coming up soon. In the meantime I'm sharing these lovely portrait photos. At a local auction this morning I bought the photographic remains of  what I'm sure must have been an amateur - but very good - photographer. Among the bag of his own prints from the 40s on bromide paper were these 10 x 8 photos that stood out. Of course, the little boy is perhaps the most compelling image but I thought all three of these had real character, insight and, for the most part, cut through at least the top layer of the sentimentality of era.

Lionel Wiggam Photo

One of the things I've often thought about collecting for myself is photographic portraits of poets. If there was ever any part of me that thought this was a serious proposition it was dashed to the floor and trampled on recently by reading the sale catalogues from Bonhams of the Roy Davids collection - why would a mere mortal attempt such a collection when the Olympian Gods had obviously trodden the path before - but this doesn't stop me occasionally searching for such on Ebay.

This is Lionel Wiggam, described in this press photograph from the 1930s as a "New American poet". He doesn't appear to have published more than a couple of volumes of poetry but they appear to have been very well regarded. Obviously he's a devastatingly handsome young man and he was, for a time, one of the Ford Modelling Agency's top 10 models. There are some brief but touching remembrances of him on the Princeton Alumni website which were uploaded there following his death in 2005 at the age of 88. I have a little history crush but I promise to also track down his poetry in the near future and see what all the fuss was about...

Some people shy away from these press photos because they are often heavily stamped, written on the verso, sometimes also on the front, often marked up or heightened in black and white. Personally, I think this is like the patina on an old piece of furniture: it gives you a sense of the photo's age and its history in the world.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Isle of Wight and Indiana Jones

Those of you who follow me on twitter will know that I've been braving storms and high seas to visit the Isle of Wight today to do a touch of book hunting and, what in some parts of the world is charmingly called, "Antiquing". I've met some lovely dealers and seen some lovely objects, a number of which very nearly made me open my wallet, but I resisted. Almost. In fact this photograph was about the only thing I bought today. That doesn't matter because the real purpose of the visit was to see and spend time with my good friend A, who is just coming around to the wonderful world of antiques and didn't need encouragement from me to spend considerable sums of money!

But the photo I liked. I'm assuming we're in Egypt and that's some kind of pyramid but I know there are those who read this blog who know that part of the world and perhaps the building is oddly enough shaped to be easily recognised? Anyway, the thing I liked about it in particular was that ranged in the sand of the desert are a small group of biplanes and people milling around them. It's all just so Indiana Jones...

Monday, June 03, 2013

Woodcuts by Pam G. Rueter

I can't tell you anywhere near as much as I'd like about Pam G Rueter (1906-1998), the artist behind these enchanting woodcuts. There is a dutch Wiki page which Google will translate into English for you should you need it, that gives a basic outline of his life and career. I know him primarily as a prolific ex-libris artist but his work is certainly a lot wider than that. These images are all from a book in Dutch that I picked up recently and completely failed to understand except that these all come from a section in the book which appears to be representative of the work Rueter did to please himself. I love the macabre creatures and the dense black inkiness. 

Thank you to all those who have read, commented on or bought from the Strange and Supernatural Fiction Catalogue. Sales have been going really well but it's still worth having a flick through it if you are supernaturally inclined. The contents of my catalogues don't go on general sale on retail sites on the Internet until visitors here and those on my mailing list have had their chance to look through it all.

Who links to my website?