Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Catalogues #4

Given that the production of printed catalogues is now a dying art, this is a not very timely plea, but should you be a bookdealer and you are considering issuing a catalogue in print, PLEASE PLEASE, put a date on it... these are a few more of the large collection of book catalogues I am selling at the moment and it is infuriating how few sellers put dates on their lists. It's understandable of course, who would have thought that some other bookseller in 60 years time would be cataloguing their catalogues - but there we are!

Aurora Meditations

Aurora Borealis timelapse HD - Tromsø 2010 from Tor Even Mathisen on Vimeo.

I know this is a little off-topic for this blog but the Astronomy Picture of the Day website has become a regalar haunt of mine and this appeared there the other day. It's wonderful: a time-lapse film of auroras over Noway. I read that auroras are getting more regular and more spectacular at the moment because of increased solar activity. I don't really know, or care, what that means, but I can recommend this to be watched full-screen, in the dark and in meditative mood.

Friday, November 26, 2010

British Museum Pots and Nudes

The British Museum on a crisp, clear November evening, as the lights in the galleries dim and the amazing glass roof above the Great Court goes slowly darker and darker until walking round the great central ambulatory is like stepping out into a Dickensian Christmas scene of happy gloaming, you can't help but wonder if this is one of the most inspiring places on earth!

I was in London today for a couple of meetings and then, with time to kill, spent the rest of the afternoon in happy isolation in some of the more obscure galleries of the British Museum. The pictures below are from a couple of galleries which hardly get any visitors and yet contain some fascinating pieces, this is the Museum's 'reserve' collection of Greek vases and pottery, nearly all in the well-known red and black style but, because of its condition, this is stuff you'll never see illustrated in posh books. In particular, the large plate decorated with a 'boy on horse' motif was breath-taking, particularly so when you consider that it was painted and potted in 480-470 BC.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More Vintage Swimming

It's been a short while since we last had come vintage swimwear on this blog and so here, for your viewing pleasure, a small selection from a group of photos I bought online recently. The wonder of technology is that thes sometimes very small 2"x2" photos can be scanned and details seen on the screen that even a magnifying glass would be hard pressed to make clear.
For those who might still be trying to pretend that this interest in vintage swimwear is all about the costume, you might like to know that these illustrate swimwear in Italy in about 1925 according to some of the notes on the back!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Paul Ramos The Charioteer

A short while ago I blogged enthusiastically about a book I had bought because of it's cover: the latest Vintage Books imprint of Mary Renault's The Charioteer. Since then, an anonymous contributor added a comment to tell me that that beautiful face on the cover which had so drawn me was Paul Peralta-Ramos, the youngest son of the 30s style icon Millicent Rogers and a little digging led me to a picture of Paul in later life (he died in 2003) which I have put beside the painting. It is not such a well known fact about Milliecent Rogers that she was a major collector of Native American and Spanish Colonial arts and crafts and a dedicated museum now contains both her collection and the collection of her son Paul who continued her work in that field.

Interestingly, (I think I have got this maths right), the artist, Bernard Boutet de Monvel died in 1949 and so Paul in the picture on the book cover can't be more than 15. It's a strange thing to be able to put a name and story to a face which was, presumably, chosen by very dint of its anonymity.
UPDATE: please see the comments for a very helpful link from PJ who takes us to an image of Paul Ramos which clearly shows him at about the same time as the portrait was painted.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Frederick Rolfe's Holywell Banners

I wasn't kidding when I said I had something exciting to announce on this blog this weekend.

We are genuinely excited to be able to annouce the publication of Frederick Rolfe's Holywell Banners by Robert Scoble. The book is published by CJB and printed and distributed by as a 40pp., full-colour sofcover book. This is the first time that all five of the surviving banners have been reproduced in print and the book also contains the first colour reproduction of Rolfe's painting of St George as well as of a pen and ink sketch by Rolfe done for his young assistant Leo.

Holywell in north Wales takes its name from the miraculous Well of St Winefride, which has attracted pilgrims to the town for many centuries. The Well was falling into a state of disrepair and neglect when in 1890 the Jesuits appointed a young and energetic new priest to the Holywell parish. Within a few years Fr Charles Beauclerk had given the shrine a new lease of life, with a particular emphasis on regular processions through the streets of Holywell and on to the Well itself. By 1895 he was feeling the need for new and more splendid processional banners, and when an impecunious artist happened to visit the town, Fr Beauclerk prevailed upon him to stay. The artist told Beauclerk that his name was Frederick Austin, but in reality he was Frederick Rolfe, soon to write the unusual books, some of them under his nom de plume ‘Baron Corvo,’ which were to bring him enduring literary fame. In return for his food and lodging, Rolfe produced some fourteen or fifteen banners, of which only five have survived, as striking and colourful examples of his naïve representational style. His time in Holywell did not end well, however, as he gradually became convinced that Fr Beauclerk was taking advantage of him. This book tells the story of Rolfe’s commission to paint the banners, and reproduces the banners themselves in full colour, together with a detailed description of their fascinating iconography.

You can order your copy of the book DIRECT FROM BLURB

Early Pictures of Weymouth and Sidmouth

All week I've been posting little bits and pieces that I picked up at the fair we went to in Fareham last weekend. This is perhaps the highlight. When I bought it I just thought it was a reasonably interesting amateur sketch book with some monochrome landscapes in it. And, indeed, that is what it is. However, nearly all the landscapes are labelled and they are all of Weymouth and Sidmouth in Dorset. What's more, they are very early - I searched for ages to find it but there is one date in the entire sketchbook: the faint words written in pencil on the inside front cover "my first sketchbook 1808". What's even better is that this is not just a series of pictures of countryside - pretty much all the pictures in the book are of places or buildings which are still 'comparable' today. And this is, I believe, what gives this album its special value. This is a local historian's dream. Here, for instance is a double page painting of the sweep of the bay at Weymouth with buildings drawn in, the same at Sidmouth... and so on... I'm looking forward to really getting into the business of cataloguing its contents and trying to place it with the right buyer.

In other news, it's been a busy couple of days. Last night saw the release of the latest Harry Potter film and, for the fan, it's fantastic: grim and unending, but fantastic. If you haven't read the books though, you don't stand a chance of understanding what's going on. And then tonight R and I went with other friends to see Seth Lakeman in concert and, wow! he knows how to perform live. It took a while for the crowd to get themselves pumped up but by the time he got to the virtuoso solo fiddle routine at astonishing speed and with accompanying strobe lighting, and then the two 'ho-down' numbers for the encore the crowd was up and at it! Well worth seeing live but if you've never heard of him then go to the website - which has sound and video - and then head off to wherever you download your music.

Now winding down listening to Tchaikovsky's Liturgy of St John Chrysostom! Perfect!

Friday, November 19, 2010

21st Century Books from the Old Stile Press

This astonishingly vibrant painting is by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and was created to make the wrap-around cover for the new bibliography of The Old Stile Press, run by the wonderful Nicolas and Frances McDowall. There was a bibliography of the twentieth century work of the press published some years ago now, and I treasure my copy of that, but this is the next stage, the bibliography of the press in the years since the millennium. The painting is a slightly fantastic representation of Catchmay's Court in the Wye Valley where the Press is based, as was Clive's illustration in black and white for the earlier book.
As well as his website, linked above, Clive has also now been convinced to write a blog - or artlog as he prefers - which is excellent news as his writing is always so clear and interesting. More information about this particular painting can be had from the artlog, and about the book from the Old Sile Press blog and from their website where, at the moment, there is a particularly jubilant video on the front page showing the book off.

Lehnert & Landrock

R and I continue to collect the postcards of the German duo of orientalist, Lehnert and Landrock and this one popped into our hands at that fare last weekend. Their images of the Middle East, Jerusalem and the Holy Land, are somewhat less common than the North African photographs which were so much more a part of their work.

Callum James Books: Aspects of Wilde by Vincent O'Sullivan

This remarkable book is unique in the literature of Oscar Wilde. Vincent O’Sullivan was the mystery-man of the 1890s decadent set, an American who lived large parts of his life in England and France, O’Sullivan and Wilde became friends in Paris after scandal and prison had brought Wilde down and effectively ended his literary career.

By no means a conventional biography, nor a memoir, Aspects of Wilde roams freely through anecdote, philosophy, literary criticism, polemic and reminiscence.

O’Sullivan paints an honest and fair picture of Wilde, particularly in his last years, it is a picture which is not without affection but which is also frank. The cast of characters includes all the ‘names’ of the Nineties and O’Sullivan often digresses to detail his own and Wilde’s dealings with Leonard Smithers, Beardsley, Dowson, Merrill, Lord Alfred Douglas and the like.

O’Sullivan himself was a part of that group of bright young authors and artists who gave the 1890s their enduring style, his portrait of Wilde remains an important contribution to our understanding of that period.
Check Spelling

It's very exciting to be able to announce a new edition of Aspects of Wilde by Vincent O'Sullivan. Callum James Books did publish this in a limited edition some while ago now but that is no longer available and so it seemed the perfect time to add this title to our 'paperback treasures' range which was begun in the autumn with a classic and impossible-to-find title by John Gambril Nicholson.

This edition is 147pp, a conventional paperback published by CJB but printed and distributed by Blurb. This edition retains the much needed index that we introduced into the limited edition.
You can order a copy (or many copies) direct from Blurb for GBP9.95 plus postage. Please note that we won't be holding any copies in stock here, the only way to get your hands on it is to order it through Blurb. Please also note that Blurb's delivery times and postage prices are set by them and may differ from what you are used to with other books from us.

We also hope to be able have a very exciting new book announced this weekend and Corvine customers of Callum James Books should keep a weather eye on this blog for the next few days!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Lad That's Lettered GPO

Another ephemeral find at the fare this weekend. The title of this post is a reference to the fact that I wanted to find a poem by John Gambril Nicholson to go with this. One of the greatest Victorian scandals was that of the Cleveland Street Male Brothel in which it seemed that Post Office telegraph boys like the one above, were moonlighting with some of the most influential men in London at the time. Books have been written about it but it appears that the appeal of the Telegraph Boy wasn't limited to the one street in London, JGN wrote a poem, 'Your City Cousin' in which he includes the verses:

I like the boy who earns his bread;
The boy who holds my horse’s head,
The boy who tidies up the bar,
The boy who hawks the Globe and Star.

Smart-looking boys are in my line;
The lad who gives my boots a shine,
The lad who works the life below,
The lad that’s lettered G.P.O.

Being too lazy to get up from the desk and open some books to get this quote I typed the part I could remember into Google and, of course, found the poem online. However, in the process I was staggered and delighted to discover the most astonishing thing: there is to be, next year, in London, Cleveland Street The Musical. How mad and marvellous is that!? Follow the link to listed to some of the tunes and to put yourself up for a part if you feel so inclined!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Boxer Boy

It is the end of a rather full and interesting day. I am sitting here at well past midnight dealing with the packing of a large number of books on nudism sold on Ebay this afternoon whilst listening to Philip Glass's Akhnaten. R and I went to a small antiques fair at Fernham Hall in Fareham today and bought a couple of interesting items which included this rather fetching photograph of a young boxer with (ahem...) quite a thing in his boxers... From the trophy we gather that he has just won the Regimental Boxing Championship of India and from the verso we discover that he was in the Bed/Herts Regiment and was in Kamptee India 1922-24.

I'll post some of the other finds from this fare in the near future but also today we have been to see Skyline at the cinema - DON'T! Quite the most unimproving and pointless film I've seen for a long while.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Faces of the Forties

These are more from the lot of sketches and studies I bought recently by Barbara Long, an art student in the 1930s and 40s. There's no question of her being an artisti genius but she did have a real feeling for people's faces. These in particular I liked.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Catalogues #3

Once again indulging my fetish for book catalogues. These are five that I've picked out of the nearly 6 full drawers of the things that are secreted away in this place, in order to list and sell them on Ebay this weekend. Truely, I would love to be able to collect this kind of thing but one has to be firm... I don't want to end up in a few decades time as that peculiar old man with a house so full of books that the ambulance crew couldn't get through the door to pick up the body... you see what a storm blowing outside and not enough sleep will do to the imagination!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Book by its Cover

The magnificent Bookride is currently embarked on a series of posts about 'books I have never read'. I suppose when such lists are compiled, the subtext is that these are 'books I have never read but feel I ought to have'. If that's the case then Mary Renault's The Charioteer would be on my list. A classic, I'm told of gay literature and yet I, who claim acquaintance with the subject of gay books, have never read it. I've read the Alexander trilogy, but only very recently, and they provided one of those moments where you wonderingly ask yourself why you've never done something before. But The Charioteer: not yet.

The top picture is of the first edition cover taken from my shelves (so I have no real excuse for not reading it, it's been there for years). I've admired the design and artwork although I know no more than that the artwork is signed by 'Biro'. The lower picture is of a recent reprint by Vintage Books in paperback. I think the design elements of the cover are rather straightforward enough, but the picture stopped me in my tracks (click to enlarge the pic above), and the moment I saw it I knew I was going to be buying the book for its cover and, because it was a paperback, I knew I was going to be reading it too!

The portrait on the cover is credited to Bernard Boutet de Monvel (1884-1949), there isn't a great deal to learn about him online, except that he really shouldn't be confused with his father. If you have a little French you could try l'éditeur singulier which also has a few pictures - the most interesting of which I thought was the almost Metropolis-like industrial image at the bottom of the page. There is also an article from the Chicago Magazine which includes a photograph of a very swish-looking 1930s women sitting below a portrait of herself by de Monvel. However, that portrait on the front cover of The Charioteer I just find utterly compelling and it hasn't so much created a case of judging a book by its cover as buying a book for its cover. How I would love to know the identity of that beautiful young man.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Vintage Photo: A Way of Life

There are an awful lot of Victorian photographs out there and, frankly, and awful lot of them are pretty dull. But every now and again something comes along which really takes my fancy and this is certainly one of those. It is one in a small but important group of photos I bought a while ago which depict life in Settle in Yorkshire in, I would say, about 1860-70. This is my favourite of the lot though for its portrayal of a kind of life now pretty much disappeared forever. I've left it as quite a large image so please do click on it to appreciate it fully.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Gay Map of Europe

These are just brilliant. Called Mapping Stereotypes they are selling a set of prints which map all the national stereotypes you can imagine. This is the gay one but all the others are just as witty, well-informed and attractive... well worth a look and if you can't find at least one that you want to give to a friend for Christmas that you should seriously consider if you have good enough friends!

Astrological Ephemera

More from the same wonderful box of ephemera. Reading anyone? This is a small lot, but perfectly formed, of pieces from the self-styled Chaldean Astrologer, Wallace Elroy (aka Prof. Elroy). The letterhead is actually on a two page typed astrological 'reading' for the said Ms. Stephens. I understand, I think, all the symbolism on the business card but you have to wonder what exactly he was trying to say with the reaper's sickle hanging over the top of it!

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