Monday, October 28, 2013

Pre-Order: Frederick Rolfe Centenary Catalogue

You cannot possibly be a regular reader of this blog without knowing of our regard for Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo and this Saturday past was the 100th anniversary of the Baron's death in Venice. Next week Callum James Books will issue a new catalogue entitled, "Baron Corvo: One Hundred Items from the Collection of Robert Scoble".
If you are on our mailing list, you will already know about this. If you are on our mailing list you will be sent a link to the electronic download of the catalogue about 24 hours before that link is published on this blog next week. If you would like to be on the mailing list to have a chance for first pickings then please simply drop me an email as soon as you can. There really is something for everyone in the list with the items split into two sections: Rolfe's own writings followed by books and ephemera relating to Rolfe. Many of the items have an association with leading figures in the posthumous cult that Rolfe generated throughout the 20th century.

As well as an electronic version of the catalogue, as a permanent record of a collection 40 years in the making and as a contribution to Corvine bibliography, we have produced the 120pp. catalogue as a quarto paperback in a limited and numbered edition of 50 copies signed by both the bookseller and the collector. If you would like to pre-order a limited edition hardcopy of the catalogue for your collection please send 24.00GBP plus the appropriate postage (i.e. 3.00GBP for the UK: 5.00GBP for European countries: 7.00 for everywhere else) to If required for your records I can send an invoice via paypal. The hard copies will be also be sent out next week but if you hope to order from the catalogue you should be on the email mailing list for the quickest access and await your real-world copy in the post.

Polaroid: Enzo

Occasionally, when surfing around for photographs to buy I am tempted into colour and sometimes tempted away from vintage swimwear as well. Apart from knowing that this model's name is Enzo, he 18 and that the photograph was sold to me from France, I know nothing about the context of even the content of this image. Nonetheless, the fact that it's a Polaroid makes me love Enzo all the more for his uniqueness and ephemeral beauty.

Jean Picart le Doux's Playing Cards

About a year ago I posted some pictures of a brilliantly illustrated pack of cards that I had acquired by Jean Picart le Doux that had been commissioned by Thomas de la Rue and Co. Ltd. I didn't have the cards very long, they generated quite some interest and sold very quickly. So I was delighted to turn over this 1960 edition of The Pan Book of Card Games and find them illustrated on the back.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Penguin Poets: e e cummings

Only a week or so ago I was wingeing about how I hadn't bought one of these in a while and amazed that I found one in Salisbury. It seems that, like busses, two come along at once because I found this one (and what a brilliant pattern this one has!) in an antique centre in Dorchester today. Very pleased...D72 in the series and number 31 in my collection.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Vintage Photo

I love this picture. It was bought from the Internet and was delayed in its delivery which has had me hopping because I've been wanting to share it here ever since I saw it. When R saw it before I bought it, he commented that he couldn't tell whether it was sexual or violent - which is a very astute comment of course, but actually it is neither. And I think that ambiguity is one of the reasons I like it and why it is already on my wall in a frame. The labels on the verso give the game away of course... it's a 1967 press photo taken underwater of two lifeguards training in life-saving techniques.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Frederick Rolfe Centenary: Boo-Hooray in New York and Venice

The Boo-Hooray gallery in New York is staging two exhibitions to commemorate the Baron's death. First in Venice, Italy, at La Casa di Parfait d’Amour, an exhibition of Rolfe first editions and rarities will take place on October 25th, followed by a dinner at Osteria do Farai. The exhibition will run from 3 to 5 PM. Anyone who wishes to attend should meet at the top of the Rialto Bridge promptly at 2:45 PM where they’ll be escorted to the gallery and drinks will be served. The list for dinner is now closed but all are welcome at the exhibtion. Then, on the Catholic holiday of All Saint’s Day, November 1st, the very same exhibition will be on view at Boo-Hooray, New York, for one day only, 11 AM to 9 PM. The gallery asks that you RSVP for the New York exhibition and all the details are here:
Alpha and Omega.
Boo-Hooray is publishing Alpha & Omega, a reprinting of Corvo’s first and last published work: “Tarcissus, The Boy Martyr of Rome,” and “Venetian Courtesy.” Alpha & Omega is printed with letterpress boards in an edition of 100 copies and enclosed in a stamped envelope with two pamphlets: Johan Kugelberg’s 2003 essay on Rolfe, and Michael P. Daley’s “Reflections On The Venice Letters.” They are also reprinting the exhibit catalogue for the landmark 1960 exhibition at the Marylebone Library in London. This reprint is available gratis at both exhibition locations together with the 2013 exhibition inventory list or for those who pre-order Alpha & Omega. Pre-ordering information is here:

Frederick Rolfe Centenary: Gay News Editorial

As we approach the centenary of the death of Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo, the Dutch magazine Gay News and its editor Hans Hafkamp (a friend of Front Free Endpaper) is to be congratulated for devoting a page to commemorating the Baron and perhaps, in so doing, introducing him to a new reader or two... we can hope...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gratuitous Vintage Swimwear


It's been a little while since we've had a completely gratuitous vintage swimwear post. Usually the photos on this theme that I post here are ones that have just arrived in my collection. In this case, I own none of these, there are all simply photos from Internet sources that have just caught my eye.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Vintage photo: Milos's Throne at Knossos

This photo is from a lot which appear to all be by the same young photographer (pictured) who was on a tour of Southern Europe, possibly under the auspices of a photography club. The photos all appear to be self-developed and he appears himself in a small number of them but this one I like best, for the hubris really. It is titled on the back, "Myself on Milos's throne at Knossos" - I'm guessing that these days one isn't allowed to simply plonk your backside down on the throne and take pictures.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New from Callum James Books: Strange and Supernatural

A new catalogue... Strange and Supernatural...
Actually this is the third list on this theme we have offered this year. This one is fully illustrated in pdf-glory and available here:
This list is again strong on short story collections and anthologies. There is a smattering of supernatural poetry in there along with a section of pamphlets and ephemera. You will also find a section of periodicals and another section labelled 'non-fiction(ish)' containing books which weren't intended as fiction and were clearly believed by their authors.
Of course, if you were on my mailing list, you would have known about this a little earlier so please feel free to drop me a line and I'll put you on the list for future announcements.

Postcards to the Curious: M R James Postcards

I'm a big fan of the M. R. James Podcast, 'A Podcast to the Curious'. A part of my exercise regime is a regular three mile walk along the long flat road that butts up against the beach at Southsea and there is just enough time to get through one of these podcasts on the walk. So, because I follow the lovely Mike and Will on Twitter I saw mention of these postcards and had to have them. Eight postcards, each with an illustration inspired by one of James's stories by Alistair Wood, printed beautifully on textured card, wrapped together with a slip of paper sealed with real sealing wax and presented in their own envelope. Of course I have to have them! Astonishingly good value for money too. Go and buy yours now...!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Vintage Colour Charts

This is a really beautiful thing, although I'm not entirely sure what the 'thing' is at this point. A green cloth slipcase encloses 6 folded boards, each with a cloth hinge and displaying a beautiful selection of colours on a chart. The title is given as 'The Ostwald Colour Album. A complete collection of colour standards for use in colour specification and the study of colour harmony'. The whole was published by Windsor & Newton of artists' materials fame. I think this is delightful and whilst I can't imagine it will ever sell for the ridiculous prices being asked for a couple of copies on Abebooks at the moment, surely someone else will love it and want it too...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ghosts & Scholars: The Illustrations

Ghosts & Scholars was the title of a periodical that, from the 1980s to the turn of the millennium, discussed the life and work of M. R. James and those who followed in the tradition he established of the 'Antiquarian' ghost story. As a periodical, then as a newsletter and currently as a website it represents perhaps one of the most sustained and highest quality literary-critical efforts in the genre of Supernatural fiction and it is a must-read for those interested, not just in M. R. James but in the whole notion of the ghost story in the twentieth century.
As well as high quality research and criticism, Ghosts & Scholars also attracted a high quality of illustration, a fact which I have been appreciating today as I have been cataloguing a long run of them. These are just a few of the illustrations from covers and from interior pages that caught my eye. From top to bottom: volume 31 Paul Lowe illustrates the James story "Lost Hearts"; volume 13 Allen Koszowski illustrates "Our Lady of Darkness" by Fritz Leiber; also from volume 13 Dallas Goffin illustrates the very famous story by James, "Oh whistle and I'll come to you, my lad"; volume 14 is another Kozsowski illustration for the same Fritz Leiber story; volume 24 has Paul Lowe again illustrating the James story, "Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance"; in volume 27 Douglas Walters illustrates James's "A School Story"; and finally in volume 30 Paul Lowe again is illustrating "The Fenstanton Witch" by James.
I could have scanned so many more too... Obviously, it helps to know the stories a little and there are any number of digital editions of James's stories available online but if you would like a crammer's guide to James I can't recommend highly enough A Podcast to the Curious in which the very dapper Mike and Will explore a different story of James's in each podcast in humorous and informed style.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Midnight Channel by Evan J Peterson

If you happen to be in Seattle on Sunday week (the 27th), you might like to think about attending a book launch. This is a new book of poetry, The Midnight Channel, by Evan J Peterson. It's a book of poems which takes as its muse the men and women of horror films. Evan was the editor of Gay City 5: Ghosts in Gaslight. Monsters in Steam which you may remember from this blog earlier in the year. That project was financed using the crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter and I was happy and proud to have added a little something to the funding of that book (and it's always nice to have your name in print in the front of the book). This latest venture has also been Kickstarted and Evan himself explains the whole thing much better than I could in the video below. The launch of The Midnight Channel looks like it's going to be quite the event, for more details visit the event's Facebook page.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Vintage photo: Carpe Diem

I am having something of a Dead Poets Society moment with this team cricket photo from 1900 (lovers of the film will know exactly to which scene I am referring) as I love scanning the faces of those long dead in photos like this. You can't help but wonder about them as people, about their lives, about what they might have looked like in natural colour... And one of the beauties of the computer, of course, is the ability to scan, enlarge, crop and so on and it brings a whole new way of examining the sometimes anonymous faces of the past. Carpe Diem!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Catalogue: Elysium Press

I don't know exactly how long it's been out but I notice that the Elysium Press website now has a new catalogue with some real highlights for fans of Robert Montesquiou, Stephen Tennant, Donald Weeks and Forest Reid. Always an event worth putting other things to one side for...

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Broke on the Wheel

By way of contrast to the last post: it wasn't just the beautiful that caught my eye today. This print is probably (and this is an educated guess really) from an early 19th or late 18th century copy of Fox's Book of Martyrs which tell the grisly fate of innumerable Protestants in the 17th century when it was originally published. Mr John Calas was one such a "French Protestant Merchant Broke on the Wheel by order of the Parliament of Thoulouse". It's a fearsome image made somehow more devilish by its chipped edges and poor, almost childish hand-colouring.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter - Not a Review

Well, as marketing goes, this cover certainly worked on me. I imagine a number of my visitors to FFEP will be able to understand why. I saw this book across a crowded bookshop, our eyes met... It's such an incredibly powerful image. The photograph is credited to photographer Hans Neleman who has a website but whose output as represented there appears resolutely editorial and advertorial. Nonetheless, it was enough to make me pick up the book and read the blurb:
"In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador in the far north-east of Canada, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people share the secret - the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to go through surgery and raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows up his shadow-self - a girls he thinks of as 'Annabel' - is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. As Wayne approaches adulthood, and its emotional and physical demands, the woman inside him begins to cry out. The changes that follow are momentous not just for him but for the three adults that have guarded his secret"
It is a first novel by Kathleen Winter and was first published in 2011, I haven't read it but many have and amazon reviews are very positive. As soon as I read the blurb I knew that, although I may not be reading it anytime soon, it was likely to be just R's kind of book so I had an excuse to buy it beyond the cover alone. Secondhand paperback and hardback copies are available for pennies from Amazon, and there is a kindle too.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Daniel Barkley Again

One of our favourite artists here at Front Free Endpaper, the Canadian painter Daniel Barkley has been interviewed by Combustus magazine and the highly illustrated result can be found here. The interview describes Barkley as an 'allegorical' painter, and of course he is: it is nice in the course of this interview to have some of the narrative of a couple of paintings opened up a little by the artist, such as the Narcissus (above) who creates his own reflection and the Sebastian (pictured in the interview) who pulls his own arrows from his body. I also enjoyed hearing about the paintings of Michael (such as 'Brothers Keeper' below) in which Michael stands or lies on the ice in which his brother Lucifer is imprisoned (a la Dante) and is illustrated by the gold suggesting armour that is just visible through the ice.
For me, however, much as I think these directly allegorical paintings are beautiful, Barkley comes into his own in those paintings where figures are placed in liminal landscapes, often on the edges of water or or blank space, sometimes covered in paint or wrapped in blue plastic and often with boats, bikes, rafts or other means of journeying. For me, this is where Barkley does what is really very difficult in any artistic medium: to create something which resonates with a quality of myth without actually being a direct depiction, to paint something ancient and true and mythic drawn from his own psyche and experience. In the world of letters the best example I can think of would be Ted Hughes's Crow.
The interview also gives the wonderful news that next year there is to be a book of Barkley's drawings.

Penguin Poets: The Georgians

There's been a long gap in my acquisitions of books from the Penguin Poets series with their wonderful patterned covers. This is only because, in the course of my regular browsing I just haven't turned up a new one for a while. The dry spell was broken today in Salisbury by this charity shop find - a great pattern too.

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