Sunday, September 30, 2012

Charles Keeping Illustrates Sutcliff

Rosemary Sutcliff and her illustrators have featured here before: strangely you might think, under the heading "Jamie Bell's Bottom" That was a post about her Eagle of the Ninth book and subsequent film. That book, and a number of others she wrote, was illustrated  by Walter Hodges. This one that I picked up the other day in Chichester is the story of a boy from a Bronze Age Tribe on what are now the South Downs, it is the story of his initiation into manhood in the tribe and his striving to win the warrior's scarlet cloth, hence the title. The illustrations are by Charles Keeping (1924-1988), about whom, for a change, Wikipedia appears to know quite a bit. He was an illustrator, lithographer and children's author in his own right. It was is work for a number of Sutcliff's novels - and she wrote a lot - that brought him to prominence. 

More interesting to me is his style. It is, whilst definitely his own, also part of a tradition of illustration from the mid-twentieth century that is particularly prevalent in children's books but which can be seen elsewhere too, which is inky, scribbly, scratchy and sketchy, and yet is still quite controlled and in which, even at the height of the 1950s/60s you can still see the influence of the black and white masters of the turn of the last century in the way that white space and black line are used. I am continually shocked that no-one has yet written the definitive study of this period in illustration and also that this style doesn't yet have a name...!

Illustration for children's books, older children's books, has more or less died a death now but this one shows just how sophisticated it could become with shaped illustrations becoming part of the page layout - not something to be seen in every illustrated book, even in the last century.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vintage Swim

It's been a little while since we've had an straightforward burst of vintage swimming photos on this blog so I thought tonight could be the night. All of these have been recently added to my collection.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Another Peter Rudland Jacket

Readers may remember that one of the book jacket artists that we've been following (i.e. have fallen almost accidentally into collecting) here at Front Free Endpaper is Peter Rudland and today, after a monumentally frustrating auction where I bought nothing that I wanted to and one lot that I could have done without, I consoled myself with a trip to the local secondhand bookshop and cheered myself up by finding this one to add to the shelf Two Eggs on My Plate by Oluf Reed Olsen (Jonathan Cape, London: 1952) is a tale of WW2 espionage behind enemy lines in Scandinavia. I now have enough of Rudland's work to see that there is a kind of identifiable style in the use of thick black line and really dramatic composition - frankly it's a kind of visual melodrama.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Male Nudes of Otto Greiner

Otto Greiner (1869-1916) was the artist behind this beautiful print titled, 'The Lithographer' that I found recently at The Blue Boy Studiolo. It's an incredibly suggestive image with a tense eroticism which is, as so ofter, enhanced by what we can't see. Grenier wasn't exclusively interested in painting and drawing the male nude, but he did it a lot. There is a great online collection here and Homodesiribus also has a good selection. Both of them show images which you probably wouldn't want to check out while at work. For me there is something intense about his drawing of the male nude. He makes male bodies that look like they're made of iron cables and clay: tense, hard, knotted and malleable.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Victorian Gothic Mystery

This sumptuous example of Victorian Gothic Revival decoration is in the form of a large albumen print photograph, a typical kind of format, 9.5" x 7.5" and mounted on a piece of card that clearly used to be a leaf from an album. (And here's a tip for you if you want avoid the ire of the bibliographically-insane: books have pages, albums have leaves. I was once nearly arrested for this felony by a member of the self-appointed bibliographical police) Anyway, one of the joys of dealing with vintage photos is also one of it's frustrations: that is, for every photograph who's story you can uncover, there are those which remain stubbornly silent. R's excellent suggestion, that it might be the room which is now the restaurant at the V&A Museum, the Gamble Room, and my first best-guess, that is might be a room from the wonderland of Victorian Gothic that is Castel Coch, turned out to be non-starters. So it's back to the head scratching again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

1950s Brochure #4: White Fish

Whereas the booklet about Outspan oranges fell down a little on its cover design, this one, about fish and the fishing industry has a cover which is a real tour de force of commercial art I think and, again, uncredited. However, we do know that the booklet was produced by the evocatively named White Fish Authority.

1950s Brochure #3: Outspan

The third in this small collection of 1950s period graphics has, I grant you, a somewhat unpromising cover, perhaps taking the notion that oranges are... well, orange, a little too literally in the design process. But inside makes up for it I think. I can find no credit or signature for the artist. The booklet itself was produced for the South African Co-operative Citrus Exchange Ltd.

1950s Brochure #2: Cape Fruits

The second of our 1950s educational brochures, this time the artist is credited as the designer and he signs the front cover image, Clifford Bayly. This brochure was created by a public relations company for the South African Deciduous Fruit Board in London. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

1950s Brochure #1: Nylon

We're going to be having a bit of a 1950s binge for the next few posts as I show off a small collection of trade brochures from the 1950s that I bought recently. A lot of them, like this one, were produced for schools to help in that Geography or Science project. Couldn't resist the fab (and sadly uncredited) period graphics of things like this wonderful stapled booklet on the uses of nylon produced at some time in the 1950s by the Marketing Department of British Nylon Spinners Ltd.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

An Edwardian Photo Gallery

I bought these a couple of weeks ago now and have been meaning to share them here ever since. I found them loose in a dealer's box of photos at a fair and, clearly, they had once been together in an album and as a collection they intrigued me no end. They are all taken in Cambridge and so one immediately thinks of the University of course: were they students together and perhaps the owner of the album collected their photos and asked them to sign them all? But how unusual that they should all have photos taken by the same photographer, and to have signed them at all. One day I will have the time to get into them properly and see what I can dig up. At the moment, a cursory few searches on the Internet reveals only one of them, a reference to a medical student... Anyhow, for the time being they remain, I hope, an intriguing and handsome gallery of Edwardian manhood.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The British Library's Postcard Rack

There are those of my friends who tell me they are sometimes jealous of my bookdealer's lifestyle and today, perhaps, with some justification. I am in London on a beautiful, warm, autumnal day and had a slow and easy trip into town from South London to go to the British Library (cool, calm and more or less empty on a Saturday), to do a little bit of business there and then back to South London on the train through the balmy sunshine.... ah! what a life eh?

And whilst at the Library I was able to pick these up. Sadly, not the originals, but as postcards bought from the same racks that are also decorated by postcards of highly coloured William Morris designs and reproductions of E. H. Sheppard illustrations. I particularly like the copy of the 'Recommended for license' letter from the Lord Chamberlain's Office about GBS's Pygmalion in 1914 (below)

Friday, September 21, 2012

RAF Armourer in WW2

This rather hunky chap is captured in a "British Official Photograph" by the Air Ministry during WW2. And one of the nice things about these official photos is that they usually have a paragraph on the back to tell you what you are looking at:

"RAF ARMOURERS AT WORK IN TUNISIA. The armourers of the Royal Air Force have a busy time behind the scenes as each new wave of bombers goes over to attack the Axis positions in Tunisia. They have to prepare and fuse the bombs, have fresh supplies of ammunition ready to take aboard, generally provide the fire power for our aircraft. Photo shows. An armourer unpacks a load of trouble for the Axis on a forward airfield in Tunisia. His squadron had just moved up to a new airfield and preparations were being made to attack the enemy."

Of course, precisely because it was an official photograph the information we don't get is the personal and individual. We will probably never know who this person was.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Updating Keith Vaughan Post

I have a blog post from earlier this year which goes through a kind of rolling update every time I add something to my collection of Keith Vaughan dustjackets: which I did today, as you can see. What a shame that Vaughan was never asked to provide illustrations for the text.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

And Just Like Buses...

... you don't see one for ages and then two come along at once. Having been, only yesterday showing off my latest Penguin Poet and, at the same time, bemoaning that I hadn't seen one I didn't already have for some time, I was in Winchester today and discovered this looking accusingly at me from the shelf of a bookcase... Thomas Hardy, Penguin Poet D53.

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