Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Muller's Fresh Air Book

I have just bought a collection of books in nudism/naturism but among the parade of boobs and bums the book that I've enjoyed the most is The Fresh Air Book by J. P. Muller, ex-lieutenant in the Danish Army and author of "My System" which, by 1908 when this current book is published, has sold 350,000 copies. Part of the same Physical Culture movement which gave us Eugene Sandow, Mr Kellogg and the Naturist phenomenon, Lt. Muller appears quite a character living with his wife and two young sons in their 'fresh air cottage' in Switzerland.

The Fresh Air Book is full of useful advice on the benefits of air--baths: effectively stripping off and allowing yourself to be bathed by the air or, as we know it today of course, sun bathing. But lots of other healthful advice too with chapter headings such as "The Art of Eating and Fasting", "Concerning Appendicitis", "The Cultivation of Gymnastics" and "How to Lie Abed". The latter, if you are interested is summed up as 1) wide-open windows, 2) absence of sleeping garments, 3) lightness of covering and 4) small pillow - try it tonight.

The book is published by Health and Strength Ltd whose books I have come across before and who publish a catalogue of books on "athletics, physical development, diet, heath, strength and general care of the body." As well as publishing the magazine Health and Strength The National Organ of Physical Fitness. Although this might all seem a little cranky now it's worth remembering that this is were everything we know today such as gyms, jogging, working-out, and body-building have their roots. H+S Ltd included on their list titles such as, The Text Book of Ju-Jitsu,. Fifty Exercises for Health and Strength, Running and Cross-Country Running, Scientific Boxing & Self-Defence and The Eustace Miles System of Physical Culture. One I remember passing through my hands once which had a particularly humorous bent was The Text Book of Club Swinging. The titles of this publisher aren't prohibitively expensive and, although I don't know anyone who has done it, I imagine they would make a really interesting but also achievable collection.

Bianchini Ferier Fabric Patterns

I don't normally do this kind of thing but I've been in 'patterned paper' kind of mood recently and then I came across these wonderful items being sold on Ebay by lewchaorc of Lewes in East Sussex. There are a whole range of the original designs for fabric patterns from Bianchini Ferier from the 1930s-1980s. They're not all to my taste but there are enough there that I can imagine making an incredible display as part of a decorating scheme with a selection all framed up and perhaps hung up a flight of stairs. The seller tells us that: "Bianchini Ferier was the famous printed fabric manufacturer that supplied many of the most well known couture houses of the C20th. Most famously Chanel, Poiret, Patou, Paquin, Vionnet, and lelong. His most famous artist, Roul Dufy, was employed by the factory until the 1920s."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Patterned Paper Envelopes

Back in 2008 and I first discovered (and blogged) about the German penchant for using patterned papers inside their postal envelopes. But these are just amazing. From the outside, simply envelopes sent to the UK from Berlin in the early 1930s. Open them up and they reveal the most wonderful printed paper, with an ink that feels raised from the paper and has an almost poster paint texture to it. Delightful...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Richard Marsh - Bernard Heldmann

At the end of last year I was able to write up a little piece of research I had been doing into the mysterious case of Richard Marsh, author of the Victorian cult classic, The Beetle. The piece stirred some interest and I was delighted to hear from Robert Kirkpatrick, a researcher whose primary interest was in Marsh in his original incarnation as an author of ripping yarns for boys. Robert took my little piece of research and managed to uncover significant extra pieces of information. A short summary piece of his work has now appeared in the April edition of The Bookdealer (above) with a kind acknowledgment and mention of this blog.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gleeson-White Family

Joseph Gleeson-White was a well-loved and extremely influential art critic, designer/illustrator, and editor at the end of the nineteenth century. He lived, for a while, with his family in Christchurch in Hampshire and there became embroiled in the life of Frederick Rolfe. This period in Rolfe's life is well documented in all three biographies and in Robert Scoble's A Duchess and Her Past in the Raven series. That said, I am currently working on two publications relating to Rolfe's time in Christchurch - watch this space for details.

Rolfe was well known to the Gleeson-White family, to Mr and Mrs as well as their two children Eric and Cicely. I have known for a while that Cicely went on to have a sucessful career as a light operatic singer so I was delighted to discover this page from The Strand Magazine in a series they were running on 'my favourite song to sing'.

And whilst we're swimming...

These two images are postcards which have been sent to me in the last little while by good friends and customers with their orders for my books - you know who you are (and thank you!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vintage Swim Once More

As promised, a few more 'new to the web' vintage swim photos - and one buff young boxer - just because... All picked up this weekend at the Antiques and Collectibles Fair in the Westgate Centre in Chichester.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Intriguing Photo

I love old photos, sometimes for the things they reveal about the past but just as often, for their mystery. I bought this 1/6th plate tintype photo recently and I suspect I will never know who these people are or why they are dressed as they are. Explorers perhaps? Huntsmen? The dogs could be accompanying either. The two gentlemen on the right and centre look almost (but not conclusively) as though though they could be from the Russian Steppe while the chap on the left is, on the surface at least, a lot more European-looking.

There will be something of a flurry of vintage photos in the next few days as I have some great new additions to the vintage swimwear series.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Spanish Meidcal Aid Committee

This is a great ephemeral item that was folded into a lot of fairly uninteresting items at a local auction recently. It is a Christmas Card with a two colour linoprint on the front. Fairly dull in that respect. But inside, is a rather bad poem about Spain and the Holy Land and the legend, "Greetings from the The Spanish Medical Aid Committee" and suddenly it is an object which is part of a story. The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 inspired ideological support from around the world in a way that no 'foreign war' had really done before. Just recently an historically motivated individual noticed that there was nothing much on the Internet about the group and put together a page about them at schoolnet. Clearly it was a left-wing group and was supported by all the usual suspects including our friend Victor Gollancz.

On top of this though, on the back of the single-fold card we are told that it was printed by the Voluntary Printing Unit. All I can find about these people is one line in a Google search extracted from a journal article I can't access which suggests that they were a left-wing printing cooperative formed in 1939. They don't appear to have 'published' anything according to the British Library Catalogue but then, as printer rather than publisher, it's not completely surpising that they don't appear.

I've just finished reading Isherwood's Mr Norris Changes Trains set in pre-war Berlin: the thirties are sometimes portrayed as a rather dull period in history but actually there was a great deal of passion around, of every ideological colour. This Chrismas card is a real touching-point for that sense of rolling up one's sleeves and getting stuck-in.


Sometimes a blog can't be the receptacle of every last thought and feeling. There are some thing, dear reader, which I am afraid are too difficult, too incendiary, too personal, or just too uninteresting to share with you here. So I have, for a long time, felt I would like to start an old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness journal with a real pen and paper.
So I had these made and they arrived yesterday. I'm delighted with them: grey buckram spines and corners, numerically ordered at the base of the spine and using three different colourways of a very nice J & J Jefferies paper on the boards. Of course, I haven't yet written the first entry, I'm scared of all that blank paper...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Getting Back To Normal

What a peculiar two weeks it has been. First, through one of those magnificent concatenations of phone companies and broadband companies, I have been without an Internet connection for nearly two weeks. Perhaps you can imagine what paroxysms this had reduced me to for a while... however, that was soon swept from my mind as I was struck down by a chest infection which has had me shivering and panting on the sofa for most of those two weeks...

It appears that I am a little better now, although still quite fatigued and it may take a little while to truly get back to normal.

So, my apologies to anyone who has been trying to do business with me in the last couple of weeks and my thanks to those who noticed that this blog hadn't been updated in a while and expressed their concern. I will be slowly getting through the many many emails that are waiting for me and I look forward to getting back up to speed with you all in due course.
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