Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Men of the Folies Bergere

At a local antique and collectibles event at the weekend I bought two review programmes from the Folies Bergere in Paris in the 1930s and I am utterly enchanted by the deco glory of it all and can easily see myself being seduced into collecting more of them. However, I was surprised, among all the bouncing breasts and beautiful bling to see more than a shadow of well-oiled beefcake. And is it possible... to look at the final image below, that I may have stumbled on the inspiration for the famous Jabba the Hut and Princess Leia scene in Star Wars?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sweet and Sinister

Two Edwardian photographic postcards one of which is quite sweet, the other (below) frankly seems to me to miss the mark somewhat and could have tipped over into sinister!

Roger and Frank Again

Regular readers may remember Bob Young's collection of photos from the 1950s that depict a romantic relationship between Roger and Frank: a rare and wonderful thing. Bob has recently updated the text which accompanies the images on Flickr, providing not just much more of the information he has been digging out about these two men but also an entertaining account of the search. It is well worth reading.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Marie Hartley Draws Whitby

I have been cataloguing a collection of books on Yorkshire this afternoon and a large number of them are illustrated by Marie Hartley. The books are dating from the late 40s through to the early 1960s and I have been admiring the black and white line illustrations. When I picked up this books, The Wonders of Yorkshire (J. M. Dent, London, 1959) I was thrilled with this colour frontispiece of Whitby. Given that I was only in Whitby a little while ago with my best friend, I thought that gave me licence to post it here!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sacrevoir Once Again

Sacrevoir, is the name of a German artist, or at least the name under which he paints, who we have seen from time to time here on this blog. His website has been updated since the last time we swung by and among a number of beautiful new works are these very fully-realised, secular dip- and trip-tych painting which seems to be a medium which really fits well with this artist's very classical, neo-Renaissance style. Well worth digging around in his website for the latest works.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fred and his Friend

It's been a very long and very hot day today, most of which was spent in the sweltering confines of an auction house saleroom. However, that sale was very productive and I'm sure you'll be hearing more about it, or rather, about what I bought, in due course. However, there was then, of course, an Olympic opening ceremony to watch which, I have to say, I thought we did very well! So the upshot of all this is that I have only a small offering for you all tonight: a sweet photograph from among my purchases today which was captioned "Fred and his Friend" - sweet!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ex Libris Bookplates: Cyri and Averil Le Gros Clark

Strange the things that come the bookdealer's way... this is the bookplate of Cyril and Averil Le Gros Clark. It turns out that Averil is considered something of a St Ive's artist although he main body of work was in wood engraving and illustrating. This slightly peculiar and near illegible ex libris is attached to the verso, that is, the inside front covers, of all the covers shown below. Sadly, covers is all there is. These are literally the upper boards only of what was presumably once a very impressive set of the Works of Oscar Wilde in red leather with extravagantly stamped gilt design and the owners initials... difficult to think of a use for such things and equally difficult to simply throw them away! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Victorian Cullinary Typography

R done good! Waiting for me today was this little piece of ephemeral wonder that he had picked up somewhere in Portsmouth. I'm having a little difficulty dating it but I do know that the 27th edition was issued in 1912-ish and that this is the tenth so, even at one edition a year, that makes this safely Victorian. The Alfred Bird & Son of Birmingham are, of course, the makers of Bird's custard powder, beloved of the generations. This is a very fragile but very wonderful survival of a small cookbook, probably never intended to last a hundred years and more. Nice to the see the 'manicule' in use on the inside front cover and to see another example of mixed-font typography from the Victorians.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trade Ephemera

I recently came across a great collection of 1950s and 60s trade publications, of which these are just a few examples. Brilliant graphics throughout but I think my favourite has to be the Hovis one, in which, on every page, a little plastic packet is attached with a sample of wheat in one of its various forms - you can just see the first sample through the cut out window in the scan of the front cover below.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archive: Photos Online

I suppose, though I've never given it much thought, that had you asked me when Gay Marriage first surfaced as an idea I might have said the 1970s. Well, the wonderful Boobob92 of Roger & Frank fame has tipped me off to the fact that the ONE Archive National Gay and Lesbian Archive has begun digitising some of its collection of personal and documentary photographs and what a treasure they are, including this set of photos (there are more) from a gay wedding in 1957. The photos were deemed 'inappropriate' by the developing photo store and never returned to the owners which is sad and cruel and it makes you wonder how they came to survive at all. Nonetheless, they do, along with hundreds of others of wonderful images of gay and lesbian life from the 1910s onwards.

There are pictures of both protest and pride, they are both private and public, intimate and in your face. It is a fascinating collection and, at the moment seems to run to about 700 images, I can only hope that is going to grow and grow into the future.

These two photos below were a couple of my favourites, for their intimacy and for their use of the photobooth, the only place really where photos like this could be both taken and developed safely in the 1950s.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo's Birthday

Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo born on this day in 1860, 152 years ago in Cheapside, London.

"Idle? Idle? When I think of all the violently fatuous frantic excellent things I've done in the course of my struggles for an honest living - ouf! It makes me sick! Oh yes, I have been helped. God forgive me for bedaubing myself with that indelible blur. I had not the courage to sit-down and fold my hands and die. A brute once said that he supposed that I looked upon the world as mine oyster. I did not. I worked: and I wanted my wages. When they were withheld, people encouraged me to hope on; and offered me a guinea for the present. I took the filthy guinea. God forgive me for becoming so degraded... But one can't pay one's debts, and lead a godly righteous sober life for ever after on a guinea. I was offered help: but help only in teaspoonfuls; just enough to keep me alive and chained in the mire: never enough to enable me to raise myself out of it... My weakness, my fault was that I did not die murdered at Maryvale, at St Andrew's College. The normal man, treated as I was ill-treated, would have made no bones whatever about doing so. But I was abnormal. I took help, when it was offered gently. I'm thankful to say that I flung it back when it was offered charitably."

Rolfe writing as Hadrian the Seventh in his novel of the same name.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Worcester Porcelain at the NEC

As regular readers will know, my husband R is something of a pothead - and I don't mean he's constantly high on herbal substances, I mean that he has something of an addiction to ceramics. I, on the other hand, am not usually  interested in old stuff unless it's made of paper. But occasionally our interests do coincide and I know he would be as interested in this exhibit at the NEC as I am so and as we haven't seen each other for days, this one's for you babe!

At every Antiques for Everyone fair they have a feature display and this year's is provided by the Worcester Porcelain Museum who, surprisingly (but wonderfully for me) have brought things almost entirely made of paper and they very generously allowed me to photograph them this morning. These two photo books for instance are part of the extensive photographic records that Worcester kept of the various ornamental shapes that were available. The cost price was added in a retailer's code: CHELMSFORD where C=1, H=2, E=3... and so on. This is a practise which is widespread in the book trade and if you are browsing books in many of the top book establishments in the UK and elsewhere you might notice a series of letters under the price, this is likely to be a representation of what the bookdealer paid for the book in a similar code so that discounts can be rapidly calculated without loosing all the profit. These books date from around 1910.

Below the photographs, we have some beautiful hand-painted pattern books from the 1920s and then the final book, which shows a cup and saucer, and is displayed with the physical object, is a book of designs that was put together exclusively for Asprey's in the 1920s for their customers to order from. It's a brilliantly impressive display of the documentary and design work that goes on behind the scenes in the creation of beautiful objects. Also impressive was the generous and open way in which the collection appears to be managed for the benefit of researchers and other interested parties - good work Worcester Porcelain Museum!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Eugene Sandow at the NEC

Eugene Sandow, the man who pretty much single-handedly invented bodybuilding and gym culture in the late 19th century was no slouch when it came to self-promotion either. He published several books about his 'system' including this,  Strength and How to Obtain It (Gale and Poulden, London, 1897) which is for sale on a stall here at the NEC. He is posed throughout the book in various classical-esque situations - no prizes for guessing the reference in the photo above. But more interestingly to me was that the book also contains photos of his prize-students also strutting their stuff. The pursuit of the perfect body is such a commonplace idea today that it is odd to think that there was once a time when it would have been slightly odd, the idea that you could or should manipulate the look of your own body, except by the work you do or the life you lead.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Paul T Frankl at the NEC

Regular readers might remember that a few months ago I spent some time working at the Antiques for Everyone fair at the NEC in Birmingham. Well, that time has come again and I shall be here for the next few days wheeling, dealing and generally trying to sell books to a public who, to be honest, so far don't seem keen to part with much money. Anyway, the compensation is that there are lots of very lovely things to look at and today I found this fantastic book for sale on the stand of Nicholas Daly, bookdealer and all-round good chap. Form and Re-Form. A Practical Handbook of Modern Interiors (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1930) What an amazing record and source book for Art Deco design. Paul T. Frankl (1886-1958) was one of the leading lights in the design of Art Deco interiors and architecture in the American Modernist tradition and this book is just crammed with atmospheric b/w photos of domestic and business and public spaces in a utterly utter Art Deco style. Beautiful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Victorian Illumination

Having whittered on so much about Victorian typography recently, I was hardly going to be able to resist this was I? Not typography but a most wonderful example of the Victorian art of calligraphy and illumination. This thing has it all, calligraphy in black ink, illuminated letters in various colours, a hand-painted watercolour border with flowers and pattern including gold highlights, a real photograph at the top centre and then half-tone topographical images (possibly from postcards) with hand-colouring over the top... like I say, just everything!

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