Monday, April 14, 2014

1930s Polish Folk Dances

Also from a box of ephemera from a recent auction are these gloriously camp images from the 1930s illustrating various Polish Folk Dances. They come as twenty images printed on loose cards and inserted into one side of a card folder and on the other side, loose cards with the music and sometimes lyrics for various polish folk tunes. The artist was Irena Lukaszewicz. A little bit niche I grant you! but what colour and life!

The "B" Strong Chart and Book

I love these two piece of ephemera, harvested from a box of auction bits and pieces. Aimed at boys obviously and presented with the boy's magazine The Wizard. And if you were wondering what the advice is on 'how to overcome a bully'... basically it boils down to fight back... and includes detailed and diagrammatic information about how to do so!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Angus McBean: A Personal Photo Album

In an amazing auction sale back in April of last year, Bury St Edmunds auction house Lacy Scott & Knight sold a collection on photo albums by legendary photographer of the mid-twentieth century, Angus McBean. Whereas you and I might once have received our snaps back from the chemist and stuck them willy-nilly into a photo album, as you might imagine, the personal albums of such a luminary of the photographic world are a little different. McBean prints his own photos, of course, to much larger sizes then usual and he is able to use the technology available to him as a professional to enlarge his own photos and add titles to create photographic covers for the albums as well.

Just how different from your average Joe these albums were is now amply demonstrated as one of them appears in the latest catalogue from art dealers Abbot and Holder Ltd and they have had the whole album put online as a digital book you can flick through (well worth clicking on 'full screen' too). The album is a record of a trip through Italy with friends in a VW Camper Van in 1958 - with a fair bit of vintage swimwear interest as well!


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Clarity of the Tintype Photograph

There is something about the tintype photo that I love, despite the uniformity of tone because of the dark metal ground, they often have a clarity you just don't get in other photos of the period and even when they start to decay like the one above, they do so in interesting ways. These two are from an collection I bought yesterday and show the same family at the beach a few years apart.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Original Dust Jacket Designs from the 1940s

More from the talented hands of Gwendolen K Young whose patterned paper designs I posted a couple of days ago. Another common exercise in art school was to set the students the task of designing book jackets. As far as I can ascertain (and I didn't spend hours on this) the only real book is W. H. Hudson's Green Mansions.

Monday, April 07, 2014

A Letter from Ferederick Rolfe Baron Corvo about Fr Beauclerk SJ of Holywell

It is not everyday that I get to publish previously unknown writing by Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo but I am delighted to say that a lady called Sue, a researcher who has often worked with Callum James Books, recently noticed that the National Library of Wales has digitised a large quantity of Welsh newspapers and in the North Wales Times of 26 March, 1898 in column 1 of page 8, she found the letter that follows from Frederick Rolfe (signed as F. Austin, a name he used a lot at this time)
A little context is necessary. Rolfe spent a number of years in Holywell on the North Wales coast, and during his time there he attached himself to the shrine of St Winefride which was a Catholic shrine administered by a Jesuit priest, Fr Beauclerk. Rolfe and Beauclerk were both big personalities and when they fell out, as Rolfe did eventually with most of those he came into contact with, the scale of their encounter was something quite epic, even for Rolfe. Much has been written about it in all of Rolfe's three biographies and Rolfe's letters to Beauclerk have been published in part at least. This was one of the real low points of Rolfe's life and if you detect a level of instability in the letter below I don't think you would be far wrong.
When I came to write an introduction to the Callum James Books edition of the The Attack on St Winefride's Well, an uber-rare pamphlet by Rolfe of which only one complete copy is known to exist, I realised that there was an incident in Holywell that was hardly touched upon by his biographers: a local entrepreneur attempted to get permission to bottle the spring water that fed the shrine's waters. This brought Fr Beauclerk into conflict with the town and Rolfe wasn't shy to wade in to those muddied waters himself of course if he could use it to trounce Fr Beauclerk in public. At the time of writing that introduction I discovered a couple of letters to the press about the controversy from Rolfe that hadn't been noticed before. This letter is another.
To the Editor of “The North Wales Times”


I yearn for enlightenment. I cannot reconcile the public utterances of the Reverend Father Beauclerk, of the Society of Jesus. They bewilder me, and confuse my mind.
In 1896, he preached, scornfully sneering at “frivolous Wales”.
In 1897, on some-one’s flouting him in High Street, he incontinently cursed the town of Holywell, praying that all industries might be stopped, all work people thrown out of work, and grass grow in the streets.
In 1898, our Urban Council has licensed a financier named Atherton to bottle water from St Winefride’s Well. Fr. Beauclerk (S.J.) has (1) protested against this license; (2) canvassed and town to oppose Mr. Atherton; (3) contradicted himself by telling the Urban Council that he favoured Mr. Atherton’s scheme; (4) contradicted himself again by preaching against the license; (5) denounced the ‘sordid hypocrisy of this little town’; (6) complained of the ‘unfairness of the local papers’ as neglecting to print his news and ‘only fit for the cesspool’; (7) preached to London Catholics breathing threats of litigation against interferers with his will.
Now the jade Rumour calls Father Beauclerk (S.J.) the Benefactor of Bankrupt Holywell, and he himself asseverates that all his acts are philanthropic, and that he only strives for the public welfare.
If this indeed be so, why does the Reverend Gentleman jeer at ‘frivolous Wales,’ or ‘this sordid little town?’. Why did he curse the place last May? Why is he not consistently glad to see his curse verified and the ruin of Holywell (for which he prayed) progress? Or, in a parenthesis, has that curse come home to roost in the shape of Mr. Atherton’s license to bottle, injuring Father Beauclerk’s Church’s bottling business? Why does he inflame himself and furiously rage against the Will of the People og Holywell, as manifested in the acts of their Urban Council? And why does he say to the town at this juncture, ‘don’t be sorry for me, be sorry for yourselves?’
I want to know whether this is Real Philanthropy, so that I may know it again. Sometimes a Philanthropist acts for love of notoriety; and makes the cynic and worldly minded man chuckle and chortle with an open joy.
Time was when Father Beauclerk boasted that he held Holywell in the hollow of his hand.
Then perhaps these utterances are due to that wounded amour propre of an irresponsible cleric which is akin to spretoe injuria formoe of ‘a woman scorned.’
I merely ask for information. What IS the Reverend Father’s Beauclerk’s object?

I am sir,

Your obedient servant

F. Austin.

3, Bank Place, Holywell.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Original 1940s Vintage Patterned Paper Designs

Two of the favourite exercises given to 1940s art students were the design of patterned papers and the illustration of book jackets. Two of my favourite things! But of course art students vary considerably in talent and skill so I was delighted the other day to buy a folder which consists entirely of just those two exercises. Theses are some of the patterned papers (I have a hunch you might be seeing the book jackets too sometime soon), all original designs in gouache. There was also a series which were clearly designs for wallpaper. Gwendolen K Young signed her name on the back of each of these compositions, quite rightly proud of them I think. I can't find any intelligence of her working in book illustration or design but who knows, perhaps she went on to a long and happy career as a commercial artist. More likely, like so many other women of her age, art school was the last point in her life where she was independent of another career as wife and mother: I hope she managed to express her considerable talent somehow though.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Vintage Male Nude Photo

I don't usually post fully nude photographs on this blog but I think with the absence of dangly bits we will make an exception with this wonderful little item that arrived today in the post. Clearly intended to have religious inference as "The Baptism" is written in French on the verso but it's not entirely clear who the third protagonist is intended to be if this is meant to be a representation of the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. It was sold with anther photo from the same series which showed a veiled nude figure from the back preaching in a landscape. An arresting and extremely unusual image.

More Vintage Photos

Sometimes, no matter what you are looking for on Ebay, if a search throws up something you are interested in at a reasonable price, it can be worth clicking through to see the rest of that seller's items in case they have other similar items. This is what happened here. I fell in love with the uber-camp young man in this New York bedroom in the 40s with his cigarette holder, and his bourbon so I flicked through the rest of the sellers vintage photos and found two very different but equally appealing ones to spread the postage cost over.
The next photo below is reasonably modern but has a wonderful arty feel to it I think. The crease down the middle make it look like he has a vicious scar. He doesn't, but someone is very proud of his tummy because on the verso is written simply, "Adams Abs". And then the bottom photo... well, who couldn't be charmed by such a geeky yet happy-looking polaroid-zombie!

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