Saturday, June 30, 2012

Catalogue Love

If you are, like me, something of a catalogue whore, and you are, like me, fascinated by gay literature then you probably already know what I'm about to tell you, and this post becomes redundant. However, just on the off-chance that you have missed it, Callum James Books is not the only booksellers to issue occasional short lists of interesting new material. Elysium Press in New Hampshire is now up to shortlist #6 and if you haven't seen them then you should certainly head over there and download the whole pdf files.

Shortlist #5 is illustrated below and if that handwiting on the cover looks familiar, that would be because it belongs to your friend and mine, Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo and the highlight of that particular catalogue is the MS of Rolfe's Venetian story, "Cascading into the Canal". In the latest issue, #6, the item that caught my eye was again the one illustrated on the cover, this time a collection of bookplates featuring male nudes and including examples by both Ralph Chubb and Buckland-Wright. There is also a large collection of material relating to Henry Scott Tuke and one of series of memorial reliquaries which were created after Derek Jarman's death which contains a host of ridiculous but wonderful ephemera.

Of course it may well be that you are a novice in these matters and would like to be tempted to the darkside of catalogue-love: if so, send me an email using the link at the top right of this blog and ask to be added to my own mailing list for short list catalogues and details of new publications from Callum James Books.

Artist at Work

I know, not the normal fair of Front Free Endpaper, but I was quite taken with this photo of a woman, presumably outdoors and apparently painting from palette there in her left hand: wouldn't it have been great if the photographer had just stood a few feet further back and shown us the easel as well!

Handsome Victorian Policeman

Well, I promised you more from my recent auction visits and how about this handsome fellow: particularly if you like a strong jaw! I would imagine that the original intention of the sheet hung on the back wall of the garden was so that the photo could be cropped to show our young policeman in heroic pose against a blank background, and that it didn't happen, either because the photographer couldn't be bothered or, more likely, it turned out that it would make the proportions all wrong to fit the image onto a standard sized piece of photo-paper. It's nice to have the cabinet card of his out of uniform too, not least because it means that he can be pinned down to this part of the world (i.e. Portsmouth/Southsea) and so it's possible that a little digging in the local record office might identify him.

Friday, June 29, 2012

WW2 Soldier Writes Home

I have been at auction all day today and have lots of things to share over the coming days but, tonight, I thought just this rather affecting pencil sketch by Hal Woolf, dated 1941, of a presumably British soldier from WW2 writing home.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Penguin a Week

A long time ago now I mentioned on this blog, almost in passing, the brilliant A Penguin a Week blog where full-on Penguin collector Karyn Reeves not only continues to add to a collection of several thousand penguins, but also reads them and reviews them, once a week, as the title of the blog suggests. I should have recommended this blog in far more fulsome terms long before now. But now I discover, as if my joy wasn't full enough, I discover that she also has a flickr account in which the collection is wonderfully documented. I chose the picture above, of course, which illustrates some of her Penguin Poets holdings since I have a bit of an interest in that field and have been known, every now and again, to update y'all on how my modest collection of them is going: and that's the photo here below....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Some long months ago, maybe a year or more, I bought the photo above (not all my vintage photos are black and white!) and I liked it because of the mysterious angle and cut-off face and - well, of course because it's a sexy young man. And then, just last week I found and bought the one below... obviously the same guy, this time with his head intact. You have to wonder a little about who he was and who the photographer was, and why were these photos taken? But of course, we'll never know for sure.

As it happens, I think I still prefer the first picture, for it's mystery quality and making those lips more beautiful than ever they could be with a whole face attached.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

1960s Ships Menus

On the day that my best friend told me she "doesn't get retro", I thought I would post these rather elegant menus. These are how you would have found out what was for dinner on the M.V. Charon (not the most auspicious name I can think of!) in 1962. There's a small collectors' market for these ship menus but it seems to be based on an interest in the ships. To me, of course, it's all about how they look.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Callum James / Paper

Well, here's a new and exciting development. Callum James Books has opened a shop on Etsy called Callum James / Paper. As regular readers know, an awful lot of really great graphic material passes across my desk and a lot of it has been posted here over the years. Victorian, Retro, Mid-Twen, or Space Age: the visual material that comes my way will be on sale at our new shop.

If you have wall space to fill then this might be the place to go for a set of eye catching prints to matt and frame in your own style and create a great display in the hall, the living room or even the bathroom. At the moment the offering is of Victorian Chromolithography and 1930s 'wallchart'-style prints from Enquire Within on Everything, but this range will be expanding over the weeks ahead. Bookmark me now:


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Vintage Photos: Ice Hockey

Also while mooching in Albert Road in Southsea today I came across these photographs which were just too interesting to leave with the shop. So they came home with me. I think they might be from the 1940s. Certainly the design of the sign in the background of one of them saying "Tea Lounge" has that kind of feel. The photographer is given, embossed on the card mount as being in Temple Fortune, London, NW11 so I'm wondering if maybe this was the Alexandra Palace Ice Rink.

I particularly like the way that, in the action shot below, nearly everyone is part transparent because of the speed of the movement and the inadequacy of the camera.

Flo & Stan: Southsea Retro

I don't often do 'local' posts but if you should be anywhere near me here on the South Coast and you enjoy a bit of browsing through retro goodies then you could do a lot worse than visit Southsea and in particular Albert Road, and, most particularly Flo & Stan. Confusingly, that's the name of the shop, not the couple who own and run it who are actually called Derek & Lorna - which perhaps doesn't sound quite so retro. There was a real Flo & Stan, and you can see their picture on the wall in the shop... always a good conversation starter!

Flo & Stan stocks a range of contemporary home wares all mixed up with vintage treasures and graphics. I particularly like the huge anatomical and first aid wall charts on the wall, the wooden dummy's legs upside down in the window light above an internal door and the knitted dinosaurs...

Anyway, there's more on Facebook, there will shortly be a website (which I'll add here as soon as) and if you should pop in and see them please do say I sent you...

Serious German

So very serious, as only a young man can be with a bumfluff tache and a slicked down hair-do. I hope to have the German on this postcard translated at some point, but really it's that fact he reminds of me someone I had a crush on at school that means he's going to have a place in the collection

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Floating Memories: Brighton Swimming Club Archive

I know this 1860s photo of Brighton Swimming Club has been doing the rounds recently but given this blog's obsession with all things vintage swim, I couldn't really let it pass. I first found it at the fabulous Retronaut but a little clicking took me to the website of the Brighton Swimming Club whose archives look to be very extensive and full of wonderful goodies that they are just beginning to digitise through the Floating Memories project. What I wouldn't give for a rummage through those trunks! They also have a Flickr stream which includes some fabulous ephemeral items.

Best of all though, their archive includes film and you can browse your way through seven of them at their Vimeo Channel. My favourite is probably this one:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Illuminating Work

This is the only book I've ever seen where the chromo-lithography gets a credit on the title page along with the author. In fact, this copy is a bit of a shame, every last page having detached itself from the binding. From c.1860 this is Suggestions for Illuminating with a series of alphabets and designs for initial letters, borders &c., by William Randle Harrison, illuminating artist. Victorian Gothic was all about the medieval reimagined and we today have a tendency to look down on this as some kind of deficiency in the Victorian mindset that they imposed their own view of what 'medieval' was about but it's hardly so different from our attempts to recreate the 40s and 50s in retro bars and shops up and down the country... so I say, give the Victorians a break! It is hardly a surprise therefore to find a book like this being published at the height of the mid-Victorian enthusiasm for all things middle-ages: what could be more so than the recreation of manuscript illumination.

PS. Can I also say thank you to the anonymous person who sent me 'something for my collection'! It would be great if you could email me and let me know who you are so I can say thank you in person...

Vintage Pharmacy

I think these are some of my favourite vintage photos ever to have crossed my desk. From their context I can tell you they are American, from about 1915-20 and that they might originate somewhere around Philadelphia, but that's it. There's something very atmospheric about them and, in fact, it derives from the fact they are amateur shots. A professional I'm sure would have taken account of possible glare from the overhead lamps and so produced much less atmospheric photos.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vintage Photos in Boscombe

Bit of a bumper haul today on the vintage photo front. R and I headed through rain and gales to Bournemouth to visit the Russell-Cotes Museum and en route, stopped to peruse the antiques shops of nearby Boscombe: it's always a good idea for me to get stuck into a good box of photos or postcards if there is one, it gives R time to examine every pot in the place! So this box turned out to be a bit of a treasure trove for my kind of photos.

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