Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Dark is Rising the Puffin Covers by Michael Heslop

The first two covers in this post were a feature of my childhood. The books lay around the house for many years. I read them both but don't remember much about them except a dark, atmospheric brooding feeling that seemed associated with them, perhaps because of the artwork.  Maybe at the time I was given them I was a little too young but for some reason they didn't 'catch' at that point.

For the last month I have been voraciously reading my way through the series. I can't recommend them highly enough to anyone, young or old. The Dark is Rising in particular, (the whole sequence is called that but I mean the second book) is a masterpiece and if you have seen the dismal American film version don't be put off! The whole series is a children's fantasy sequence based on British and Celtic mythologies in a unique and imaginative way with some breathtaking courage in the storytelling throughout. Over Sea, Under Stone is perhaps intended for slightly younger readers but remains compelling and then the whole thing takes off with the rest of the series.

So, having had the first two books around for years and being accustomed to this montage-style of artwork on the covers by Michael Heslop, obviously the collector in me wanted to find the rest of these Puffin paperbacks with his covers on them. But I couldn't find anyone selling the last book in a Michael Heslop cover and, in the end, I was so desperate to read it that I gave in and ordered a copy that had the more modern reprint cover, which arrived this morning... and low and behold, it was the one I wanted in pristine condition... So, sometimes that Amazon lottery can work in your favour as well as against.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The British Library at Brighton Museum

Yesterday Russell and I went to Brighton. We do love the place for it's colour, food, antiques, queerness and as a general dose of culture on the south coast. The Brighton Museum is one of the best in the country for the decorative arts and they often have extremely interesting temporary exhibitions. So we used the Keith Vaughan exhibition currently showing there as an excuse for a trip along the coast. And the Keith Vaughan was, as always, fascinating and beautiful and a little sad... but these photos represent the book-related surprise of the day. This is a site-specific installation by Yinka Shonibare. It is in the Old Reference Library in the Brighton Museum and it was both fascinating and beautiful. Every book is covered in beautiful cloth (Indonesian design and Dutch manufacture) and each with the name of an immigrant to this country who has made a significant contribution to what we think of as British culture gilt stamped onto the spine. Obviously its an artwork with a 'point' but unlike many such pieces this is also beautiful and, because there is just so much external reference through the thousands of names, it becomes almost meditative and is a very long way from self-regarding as some 'political' art work can seem. The names are those of both the well-kown and the unfamiliar, among them: T.S. Eliot, Henry James, Hans Holbein, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zaha Hadid, Mick Jagger, Darcey Bussell, George Frideric Handel, Hammasa Kohistani, Liam Gallagher and Noel Gallagher, Amartya Sena, Anish Kapoor and many more. The installation is, of course, called "The British Library".

Sunday, June 22, 2014

August Derleth Vintage Paperback Jackets

Every now and again, when I have a bundle of appropriate books, I like to have a mini-expo on Twitter of jacket or cover artwork that grabs me. Tonight's was from a bundle of vintage paperback editions of anthologies or collections put together by August Derleth. This is about half of those posted to Twitter tonight. If you would like to follow Callum James Books on Twitter search for @CallumJBooks.

Vintage Photo: A Swimwear Tintype

I have a bit of a soft spot for tintype photos because, despite their somewhat limited tonal range they often have a must sharper focus and show more detail than other photos of the period. Plus, as the photographic enamel chips slowly away, they often have a lovely 'aged' look to them as well.

Anyway, in this instance, I bought this one not just because of my soft spot for the medium but because of the young man bottom right, for whom I also developed a soft spot! The photograph is a mirror image because the technique used which means it takes a moment to work out that all the men have "H J Larkins" stamped across their chests: perhaps the sponsor of a swimming team? or the hirer of swimwear at a beach? or the owner of a lido?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

New Publication from Callum James Books: The Last Weeks

It has been a little while since Callum James Books has issued a publication as I have been concentrating on sale catalogues of late, however, I'm delighted to be able to tell you about The Last Weeks. Urania from the Collection of Donald Weeks. Some of you may remember that when this famed collector and biographer of Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo died, his collection was catalogued by Maggs Brothers and sold en bloc to the Brotherton Library in Leeds. A slice of that collection became detached in the probate process and that was catalogued by Callum James Books and eventually also rejoined the rest in Leeds. But there was another part of Weeks's collection. 
In the process of collecting Corvo he also amassed a handsome collection of Uranian material, much of it directly from the libraries of Charles Kains-Jackson, John Gambril Nicholson and S. E. Cottam. This part of his collection he dispersed before his death and in 1993 it was catalogued by Nigel Burwood of Any Amount of Books in London. At the time that catalogue was produced only in typescript as an aid to sale. The collection was sold as a whole to an American dealer who then distributed it among institutions and private collectors.
The catalogue is fascinating. Not only is it an insight into the libraries of three central Uranian figures, it also suggests links between them and more widely recognised cultural figures with letters and association copies and inscriptions from people like John Addington Symonds, Norman Douglas, Laurence Housman Henry Scott Tuke and so on. There are plenty of obscure titles to learn about here as well. If, like me, you enjoy a good book catalogue and if you have any interest in gay literature then you will want to browse through this booklet. We are very grateful to Any Amount of Books for allowing us to reprint their typescript in booklet form with 156 items catalogued in 32pp sewn into printed card covers. The edition is strictly limited to 60 numbered copies. There are two colours, dusky pink and pale blue, but there is no priority and unless there is a specific request they will be sent randomly.
The book costs 9.99GBP and postage is 1.50GBP within the UK: 4.00GBP within Europe and 5.00GBP to elsewhere in the world. Drop me a line if you would like one. Payment is usually handled through paypal.

 Just to be perfectly clear, this is NOT a selling catalogue but a reprint of a 1990s list for its inherent interest.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Jo Brocklehurst Postcards

Jo Brocklehurst is not one of those names that springs immediately to the lips but a Google image search for her work and most people I would imagine, in the UK at least, will realise they have seen some. She was well known for her illustrations of the fashion and club scenes in the UK and Europe in the 1980s. Her work is slowly appreciating, with drawings now fetching in the mid- to high hundreds at auction. She died in 2006 and reading her Guardian obituary, or rather reading between the lines of the obituary, one picks up a picture of a sometimes difficult woman with an overriding passion for her work, someone who persevered in the life of a professional artists against quite some odds.

These three drawings arrived in postcard form this morning. From top to bottom they are titled, "Man in a Hat", "Boy in a Shower" and "Man in a Shower". The postcards were issued by a company called Gallery Five in 1981. There's something to be said for collecting modern postcards.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Catalogues

The only thing I really collect these days for myself is bookseller's catalogues and bibliographical books where they coincide with my book interests. When you see me selling book catalogues it is only because they are duplicates to my own collection. So you can imagine my delight when two huge boxes of book catalogues from the likes of G. F. Sims, Jacqueline Wesley, Eric and Joan Stevens and numerous others arrived today. Perhaps the most exciting though was a small run (for there never were many) of catalogues by the elusive Michael deHartington (pictured above).These catalogues from the 1970s were so important for identifying and giving information about gay literature that David Deiss at The Elysium Press reprinted them in a fancy limited edition some years ago so that the information they contained could be more widely dispersed. Among the catlaogues is the legendary catalogue number three in which deHartington sold the collection of Uranian poetry that Timothy d'Arch Smith put together when he was writing Love in Earnest in the late 1960s. I've recently had the pleasure of handling some of the very copies of those books that d'Arch Smith had back then and that appear in this catalogue. I've had the Elysium Press facsimile publication for a while but I'm absolutely delighted to have a full set of the originals now. A happy series of evenings is now indicated reading and filing away this new and huge influx to the collection.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Eugene Sandow Plastered!

Eugene Sandow, the man without whom (possibly) there would be no such thing as a gym to go to, has been an occasional visitor to this blog and Callum James Books even once reprinted an article about training with the great man himself. So today I have been sorting through some photography books and in one book on the history of the art form, these just jumped out at me and I thought you'd all appreciate my sharing. Oh the work of a bodybuilder is never done!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Paul Klee by Insel-Bucherei

We've had the brilliant creations of German published Insel-Bucherei on the blog before and, possiblyl because R is currently in Berlin, my eye is being caught at the moment by all things German. And whose eye wouldn't be caught by this amazing cover. The publishers are (for they continue to this day) renowned for the patterned paper designs on these book, of which there are over 1000 in the series. They are the same size and basic shape as King Penguins or Ladybird books but through an amazing series of covers they have cemented their own brand among similar types of book and become a fixture even in British secondhand bookshops. There was a shortlived attemped to Anglicise the brand with Zodiac Books but it didn't take off.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

More Albert Wainwright

Albert Wainwright continues apace on the Internet. Thank you to Padraig for the heads up that led me to a selection of his work on a Japanese blog, many of which I had never seen before. I'm sorry there is no context to them, apart from the obvious such as where they come with the numbered pages that Albert put in all his sketchbooks. If you haven't yet seen our publication of his sketchbooks from the mid 1930s that document his relationship with a young chap called Otto then you can buy if from Amazon here. Thank you to those who have bought it, the book continues to sell pretty well.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Vintage Photos: You Win Some You Lose Some

Well it's a fickle one the world of online auctions and you have those who live by the bid will die by the bid! ...or something like that. Two photos tonight, both of which I love. The top one arrived today and I think it is a thoroughly disarming candid portrait. Very happy to have won it. The photo below on the other hand I don't own. I love it for two reasons. First for the extremely handsome young man in the background and then just for its casualness and sense of fun which belies the fact that, although on first glance it looks like something from the 40s, if you click and enlarge and look at the calendar in the background you will see it is barely out of the Victorian period. I was so busy looking at the image and thinking how wonderful it was whilst I waited for the auction to come to its close that suddenly the page was changing in front of my eyes and someone else waltzed off with it for much less than I would have been prepared to pay! Grrrr...

Monday, June 02, 2014

Eric Carle illustrates All About Arthur

Eric Carle is best known as the author and illustrator of that children's classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar but when I was browsing in the kind of bookshop where there are more books in boxes than on shelves earlier today I came across this charming later offering from Carle, All About Arthur (an absolutely absurd ape). It's an alliterative alphabet book in which each letter is illustrated with a photograph of a 'found' letter and a black and white illustration of one of the many animals Arthur meets. I had it in mind to spell Callum or James or Books but it transpires this copy is so tatty that the A and B page has been torn out: so you are left with just a few of my favourite pages.

Who links to my website?