Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lewis Carroll and Oscar Wilde: Two New Catalogues

Two new catalogues at the same time! Each is a short list of books related to one particular author, that is, Lewis Carroll and Oscar Wilde. These are not lists of rare first editions and holograph letters but are the collection of an interested reader, enthusiast and amateur scholar and, as such, the lists contain loads of affordable and interesting material for the same kind of person. Over 150 items relating to Carroll and Alice and nearly 80 Wilde items. The catalogues are produced in digital form only and can be perused here:




Members of my mailing list had advanced warning of these catalogues and if you would like to be included in that elect band next time around just drop me an email to let me know.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Clanland: Men in Kilts

In the 1930s-1950s the train companies in the UK were great ones for issuing books. Perhaps the most famous, because of it's association with John Betjeman was Metroland but this kind of promotional book that had real content and decent artwork about a region was a country-wide phenomena and this has to be one of my favourites, Clanland was published by London, Midland and Scottish Hotels, part of the LMS rail network. In it the land of the Clans was 'painted and described by William Stewart' and the result are these fabulous demonstrations of the various clan tartans that range from the atmospheric, through the humorous to the high camp. With Scottish festivities coming up it seemed an appropriate time for men in kilts!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"My Four Year Old Could Have Done That..."

... well probably not! I'm not a subscriber to this view of twentieth century art but I was struck today by the images in the King Penguin book, Children As Artists by R. R. Tomlinson. The title probably gives away that this is a book that takes children's art seriously and when you look at the images they found to illustrate the book it's amazing how so many of them wouldn't look in the least bit out of place on the walls of say, The Pallant Gallery in Chichester with it's collection of mid-Twentieth century art. There is a real sense of the neo-romantic in lots of these images, made all the more poignant by the fact that, as the book was published in 1947, much of the subject matter deals with a child's experience of war.I think if I posted these as if they were the work of a serious artist with no reference to their age, it's possible you would not think twice about it.

Sir Allen Lane: 50 Years in Publishing

I adore book and publishing related ephemera. So imagine my delight this evening when these two fell from inside a book I was looking at.  This is the invitation and the menu from a dinner at the House of Commons to mark 50 years in publishing of Sir Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books and with the right to be thought of as one of the most important people in the story of the book in the Twentieth Century (he joined The Bodely Head in 1919 at the age of 17). And if the menu is anything to go by, I imagine a good time was had by all. Presumably these are rather scarce items too!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jean Cocteau Drawings

As a boy in my mid-teens I found myself in possession of an ex-library copy of Jean Cocteau's The White Book. I would like to think that by ex-library I mean a withdrawn surplus book but sadly I think I may have been a little less scrupulous in those days and its possible my fourteen year old fingers were light enough to remove it from the library's stock without giving them the option of deciding whether is was surplus. Both the texts and Cocteau's illustrations were among the most informative things a young man in search of his sexuality could have laid hands on and I kept that book for many years.

Consequently, I have something of a soft spot for Cocteau's drawings. His clearly distinctive style doesn't belie an extraordinary ability to draw. These I found recently in an old auction catalogue. The auction also included a copy of The White Book bound with a sketch and a finished original illustration for the book. But The White Book illustrations and a number of others with titles such as "Deux marins" and "Deux hommes nus" were clearly too much for the cataloguer and the bottommost image in this post shows how they were dealt with.

Last One From The Collection...

... for a while.

This is the last in a series of photos for my collection that I bought recently and which have been dropping on the mat under the postman's hand over the course of the last week or so. It's been scanned very large so worth viewing at full size.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Some More Vintage Swim Photos

Three rather nice photos for the collection arrived this morning. Two of them even properly qualify for the vintage the swimwear theme. Having said that though, the team photo at the bottom is rather fun, even if the Northwest Champions do appear to be wearing shorts made from the silky material of their grannies' slips!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Eike Von Stukenbrok

Eike Von Stuckenbrok - The Beauty of a Dyslexic Mind from The Avant/Garde Diaries on Vimeo.

The Blessed Eike Von Stuckenbrok has featured a number of times on Front Free Endpaper and I make no apologies for that - who would want them! But every now and again some new imagery pops up although, in this instance I understand that it is 'new to me' so excuse me if you have seen these as I realise they have been around a while. The video above is a commercially sponsored one which is based around the Nietzsche quote: “Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

The photos below are from a couple of years ago at least and are by the Swedish-born, London-based photographer Bertil Nilsson, most of whose work is with dancers and circus performers.

Photo Collection Odds

When I buy photos for my 'vintage swimwear' collection, I like them to be primarily of, you know, swimwear or to have some connection. But I'm not strict about this. Many are the photos that are in those albums that don't really qualify as swimwear photos at all but that I just happen to like. To my mind a photograph is often made more interesting by a bit if damage, or perhaps by being somewhat abstractly taken, of being out of focus a little. These are just a few of the non-vintage swimwear pics which have turned up on my doormat at the hands of the postman in the last week or so: they are all out of context and have nothing to elucidate them so they must stand as images in their own right.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Beautiful Glass

I've recently been helping sort through and catalogue a huge collection of books on glass and every now and again as you flick the pages things leap out at you. This might be the first time that glass has featured on Front Free Endpaper but these are things that caught my eye today. From top to bottom we have a classically inspired vase by Czech designer, Jaroslav Horejc from 1925, then a boy blowing bubbles by Otto Hofner, another Czech from just before the First World War; the rest were all produced by the American Steuben company who worked with some really big names in the art world to provide images to be engraved on their glass Jacob Epstein, Don Wier, Pavel Tchelitchew and Henri Matisse are the ones I have chosen to show here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Found Photos: Sky Blue Speedos

About fifteen years ago I was living in South East London. On a swelteringly hot day in the summer I was coming home from walking a friend's dog in the park when, at the top of a dusty cul-de-sac, I came across a suitcase which had burst open and, scattered all over the road, a load of photographs. It appeared, although why this should be the case I have no idea, that the suitcase had been thrown to the ground, perhaps from a moving car, and the photographs which had been inside had scattered. As you might imagine from this sample, they caught my eye, and I retrieved as many as I could from the ground and took them home. 

The photographs appear to be of an older couple and a young man, who may or may not be their son, on a boating holiday, around France. From the clothes that are worn in some of the other photos, and possibly also from the printed code on the back of some of them, I would guess they were taken in the early 1990s, that is, about eight to ten years before I found them. The young man in his sky-blue speedos may well be forty by now. At the time I did my civic duty and took them to the police station and handed them over as lost property but after a while, if unclaimed, you can claim them yourself: which I did.  I really thought I might be able to track down the original owners but there are simply no identifying features in the photos. Even the boat, of which there are numerous very clear shots, conspired not to allow it's name to be seen in any of the photographs.

This isn't a call for help to find the people in the photographs, but if you should ever happen by this blog and see your younger self staring out at you, please do get in touch.

Albert Wainwright Jacket for Castle in the Sun by Brearley

On Friday I posted the black and white illustrations by Albert Wainwright for this book by Hilda Brearley. Unfortunately, at the time I didn't have a copy of the dust jacket. I've since found this slightly tatty copy but still thought it worth reproducing here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone Illustrate Greeks and Trojans

Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone have featured here before, twin sisters who lived together with their mother for the whole of their lives and worked as a team (their brother said they were like one and a half people when they were together not two) as illustrators of children's book throughout the middle of the twentieth century. I have a fondness for the lissome and lightly muscled, slightly over-extended figures they created: and what better setting for such than in this copy of Tales of the Greeks and Trojans by Roger Lancelyn Green (Purnell, London: 1963). It appears to be a scarce title but the illustrations throughout are delicious and have that all-important quality of being completely 'of their period'.

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