Monday, September 29, 2008

Albert Road, Southsea

A beautiful Indian Summer we're having, warm sunshine with cool autumn breezes, blue skies, the weather couldn't have been more perfect today for 'Love Albert Road Day'. Albert Road is perhaps one of the most studenty, bo-ho kinds of road in Portsmouth and R and I have a number of favourite shops in the road so seemed like we had to go along really. Live music, loads of people, outdoor food and drink, and so many beautiful people... A really, really great afternoon.

Van Someren Drawing

When I first saw this on the front of a book catalogue from 1975 (number 9 from Elysian Fields Booksellers) I thought it was a reproduction of a photograph. Obviously, on closer inspection it is a drawing, described in the catalogue as:

"a previously unpublished drawing by Edward L Van Someren done about 1897. He was the son of Ivy Van Someren, the woman Baron Corvo knew and stayed with during his stay in Venice. He is well known for his paintings of victorious generals and admirals of the First World War"

Well, if he is that well known no one seems to have told Google about it. I can't find even a single reference in the National Portrait Gallery catalogue. Which is a shame because one sniffs the faint odour of 'a story' behind this. The catalogue doesn't say that the drawing was for sale.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Willard Price Suprise

Regular visitors will know I have something of a thing for the travel writing and the childrens' books of Willard Price. This spills over, of course, into my bibliographical fetish and I keep ongoing notes on my computer towards Price's bibliography. This was an entirely accidental discovery. I was listing the exhibition catalogue above for Ebay and in the process of flicking through it I see the Transworld Publishing advert which shows a picture of South Sea Adventure by Mr Price. This is a delightful surprise because I had no idea of this edition at all. It's just a shame that the newprint is so poor that a good view of the cover is impossible.

A trawl through the catalogue of the British Library suggests that this was the only one of Price's Adventure novels published by this company but, nonetheless, its nice to have another note in the file... I can't find one for sale in any of the usual places - if anyone should see one, please do think of me ;-)

PS. John C. Thanks for the link - so much better. I just knew as I was posting it that you would have seen it and enjoyed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Typography Films

I've been having one of those Youtube moments - you know, the kind of moment that goes on for several hours as you can't quite resist clicking on the next video in the sidebar. It turns out that Youtube is flooded with typographical animations, films and experiments. I thought I would share some of the ones I enjoyed.

Possibly the most accomplished was that from The Vancouver Film School.

A great piece about the letterpress work at The London College of Printing.

Some Type in Motion Experiments:

There are shed-loads of typographical animations based on famous film dialogue. A couple of the better ones I thought were the Marcellus Wallace speech by Tarantino and a nice representation of the Ocean's Eleven plan.

And to end... a nice old fashioned alphabet...

Hope you enjoy and remember don't begin a session of Youtube when you have anything worthwhile to do within the subsequent five hours...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bags and Manicules

On roughly the same day as I found the paper bag above - I can't even remember where I was given it but I know it wasn't in the shop who had it made - with some more of those lovely pointing hand motifs that I've mentioned before in connection with my Gollancz addiction; Mark Valentine of the wonderous Tartarus Press and Wormwood wrote with the following little gem:

"...there's a review in the current TLS of a book called "Used Books" by William H Sherman, on the subject of marginalia and other markings in Renaissance books. He notes that the most common marking was a small pointing hand (in manuscript) to indicate an important passage, and gives examples drawn by Boccacio, John Dee and others.

Sherman says this symbol has no standard name, so he's invented one: "manicule". Perhaps this could also be adopted for the printed symbol ?"

Wonderful! A Manicule it is then!

Manuscript Book

This is a lovely thing. A huge tooled leather book by Marcus Warne & Co. of Belfast. A small slip of paper laid inside reveals that this is "Sundry jottings for wife, children and friends. Scribbled at odd times during 20 years travelling. Written in book by my son Harry. Illustrated by Harry Foster Newey assistant-master central school of art Birmingham" by D. J. O'Neill. The contents of the book are indeed sundry jottings: excruciatingly bad poetry, short stories made up for the children, copies of letters sent and received from Queen Victoria, wise and/or sentimental words, and so on.

What makes this special though is the hand painted illustrations, or illuminations perhaps would be a better term, on every page. Even the decorative borders and corner medallions are pieces of art on some of the pages towards the front of the book. Otherwise there are very fine pen and ink sketches, little 'nonsense' drawings reminiscent of Tenniel and Alice, aesthetic movement cartouches and literally illuminated letters with embossed gold leaf. The book seems to have been put together around 1880. I have had this beauty for a while now and am blogging about it at this stage because I am considering now sending it on to an auction house for sale.

A larger set of photos of the book and its illustrations are HERE.
PS. Chris, I'm glad you like the painting but I'm afraid I can't remember and didn't make a note of when it was painted. I know the artist David Payne died in the 1970s but, as I mentioned, Google is remarkably silent about him and Wikipedia lists five David Paynes, none of whom is an artist. Even Emmanuel Cooper's The Sexual Perspective is silent which is where I thought I might have seen it before but turns out I hadn't.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

David Paynter: a very sexy painting

The Brighton trip was in no way spoiled by the weather but it was fairly miserable and we spent most of our time when outside dodging showers. One way of doing so of course was to dip into the Brighton Museum and Gallery which neither R nor I had been to before.

R was positively orgasmic over their collection of porcelain but, in fairness, it's a very impressive museum for a provincial one. Of course, there's a fair few Glyn Philpot pieces but this was the one which stuck me most forcibly. Is this not the sexiest painting you've seen in quite a while? And it ain't small either! The artist was one David Paynter, about whom Google can provie precious little information.

The only major problem with Brighton museum? Their shop. One of the absolute requisites 'in my humble opinion' of ANY museum shop is to have readily available, good quality reproductions of the objects and images on display for sale in the form of postcards. When I took this photo of the painting I was assuming that I would be able to lay hands on a postcard but no such luck so now I am left wishing I'd taken a better angle.

Brighton Birthday

Tuesday was my birthday and I unexpectedly had the day off when I thought I was going to be working. Hoorah! so at the last minute R and I made plans and headed off for the day to Brighton: a day of bookshops, bric-a-brac, colourful boho-style shops, wonderful cafes and beautiful people (why is Brighton so full of top totty!?). The journey home was slightly wearisome as I was encumbered by some twenty books, all destined for my own shelves including such delight as more Robin Maugham, two more volumes of John Addington Symonds's Renaissance in Italy in the 1898 edition which match the volumes I already have very nicely, Andre Gide on Oscar Wilde, and a first UK edition of John Rechy's City of Night... among others.

The last time we went to Brighton I frustrated R by spending several hours up to my armpits in boxes of old photos that we found in one of the rambling antique places in The Lanes, this time I resolved to be good and only let a few trickle through my fingers but, in the process, found one of my favourite finds of the day. The genial gentleman in the rather scrappy picture above is Anatole France, doyen of letters and friend to a number of the Victorian/Edwardian Queers I study. I know it's him because it's an old press photo: cut down and edited around with an inked out background and helpfully labelled on the back. I just think it's a lovely thing and cost me 25 pence!
More of the Brighton trip to come...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Ryde on the Isle of Wight is a sleepy, seaside town. Even in the height of summer with hundreds of tourists knocking about it's a fairly somnambulant kind of place. For such a small town though, it has the most remarkable carnival. Several years ago now a group of teachers from the local High School went on a mission to Latin America and came back enthused by the art of carnival and as a result of that and, no doubt, of acres of National Lottery funding or some such, there is now a thriving carnival workshop on the Island and it all seems to come to a head in the annual illuminated Ryde carnival. It's a fantastic mix of Caribbean, Latin American and very British style carnival so there's outrageous costumes, Samba drumming and Carnival Queen Floats and marching bands all mixed in. Even some of the Notting Hill carnival companies round off their season with a trip to the Isle of Wight to appear at the Ryde carnival.

I grew up in Ryde and my parents still live there so we weren't exactly tourists when we jumped on the ferry on Saturday for a bit of mooching in the junk/antique/bookshops of Ryde followed by the carnival. It also happened to be my dad's birthday - bonus!
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