Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gay City Volume 5: Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam

Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam (ISBN 9781489580146is the Gay City Anthology No. 5: a kind of gay steampunk collection of prose, artwork and poetry. It was my first introduction to the Kickstarter website where commercial, community, artistic or charitable projects in need of funding put up their details and hope the 'crowd' will see the merit of their endeavour and, in return for rewards, offer some money towards the project. In this instance I got the book, my name is inside as a supporter, I received also a poetry book from the Minor Arcana Press and a Gay City Supporter jockstrap (no, no, I won't be modelling it for the blog, I'm sorry but just no... now stop asking!). I've really enjoyed the whole Kickstarter thing and I'm now actively looking around for another project to support.

I haven't had time to read the whole book yet but if you think, as I confess I did, that gay steampunk poetry might be a bit of a tall order, think again, the poetry I've read in this anthology so far has been superb. Also, not so much a graphic novel as a graphic vignette by Jon Macy in which a gent finds a faerie at the bottom of his garden (in the person of a beautiful naked young man). The fact that the gentleman can't find anything for the faerie to eat but that it drinks all his perfume is a touch of genius I think. Add to this a glowingly rich cover by Mr John Coulthart that makes the whole production look like a casket of treasure, and we're off to the races. I can't wait to get further into the collection.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Menu Cards

Following a recent posting of some blank menu cards with Japanese style illustration, I thought I would just post these which came from the same box of ephemera recently. Again they are blank menu cards and two different designs from two different sets. I like them all but I think the Pierrot illustrations below are completely charming.

Vintage Swimwear: John and Ken

It's 1938, we're at Lake Placid in August and these two handsome chaps are called John and Ken. All this from the verso as well as their surnames. It's a real joy when people but proper notes on their family photos. I can't tell you the unwarranted trouble and expense I've had getting this photo but it has finally arrived and can now finally be shared with you all.

The Lengths by Howard Hardiman

A strange piece of synchronicity came to pass yesterday. For a couple of years I have had on my shelf a set of comic books called The Lengths, complete in seven issues, that I bought and didn't so much read as inhaled all that time ago. I have no idea why they haven't featured on Front Free Endpaper before now. The Lengths is based on interviews conducted by the artist with escorts in London and it tells the story of art school drop-out Eddie, his friends, lovers and clients. All of the characters in the book are dog-headed anthropomorphic figures: this is the masterstroke that allows the universal to be present in the specific and thus creates a piece of artwork. But, the synchronicity...

As regular readers will know R and I live in Portsmouth and the ancestral seat is on the Isle of Wight and so we often cross the narrow stretch of sea called The Solent to visit 'home'. This weekend past the Island has laid on an Artists' Open Studio weekend and so among a number of other venues we visited The Depozitory, a converted chapel, now art space in Ryde. And one of the exhibiting artists was Howard Hardiman, the author/artist of The Lengths. A charming and sweet man he has only recently moved to the Island from London and it was lovely to be able to chat with him about The Lengths and his other work. I have something of a thing for anthropomorphism anyway but Howard's images of the Minotaur and the dancing antler-headed young man (all viewable at his website) really struck a chord. 

I can heartily recommend The Lengths. It is a brilliant piece of work that begins by asking the question, 'what lengths might you go to in order to fulfill your desires?' and becomes a meditation on the interplay between choice and compulsion in our desires. It is also laugh-out-loud funny in places, dense with references and by turns both tragic and heartwarming: it leaves you imagining that the streets of London are full of fit, furry-faced young men.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Japanese (style) Menu Cards

I bought a large box of ephemera and photographs yesterday and I think I paid too much money for it. However, that won't stop me enjoying some of the contents. Among them, these blank Japanese style illustrations on menu cards. Probably 1910s or 20s and quite lovely in their own muted way

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Who said the 1930s was all about the drab?

These stunning plates are from Colour Schemes for the Modern Home by Derek Patmore. Modern, in this instance meaning 1934. I suppose there is an image of the interiors of the 30s as full of stodgy brown furniture and brown, and more brown... These images give the lie to that, full of bright pastel colours and light, airy designs. It is true that a lot of the furniture where there is exposed wood uses a dark brown wood and maybe our image of 30s interior design is influenced by the fact that furniture survives more commonly than wall coverings, rugs, upholstery or soft furnishings. 

Some of these rooms are by significant names. The photo above, for instance, is by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell and it was shown at the galleries of Messrs. Alex Reid and Lefervre Ltd. We are very familiar with the amazing rooms they created together, to live in, at Charleston in Sussex, and clearly a gallery is not a department store, but it is news to me at least that their idiosyncratic sense of interior design was shown in a commercial setting at all. The photo directly below is of a room by Eric Ravilious, for Sir Geoffrey Fry's flat in Portman Square: the most noticeable Ravilious element, of course, being the paintings of people playing tennis in the wall panels. 

Whether the designer is famous or not, these rooms and room give a very different picture of life in the 30s in the UK than is often suggested.

A little vintage swimwear and sunbathing

The UK is still basking in a heatwave so, sitting here in my shorts in the middle of the night with all the windows open, it seemed appropriate to get the vintage swimwear out again. The photo above arrived in the post this morning. The photo below comes from a reader of the blog called Ryan who knows exactly who these handsome sunbathers are and tell us they were catching the rays on a farm house roof in rural southern Indiana in about 1942-3, aged 17 or so. I'm always so grateful to people who send in their photos or snippets to the blog.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strange and Supernatural: A Supplement

In May we issued a large catalogue titled "Strange & Supernatural" and the response has been so good that today we published a supplemental list of another 75 items. The pdf of the list is available from the website and if you would like to have a look at all our recent catalogues you can find them now here. It's always worth enquiring about availability if something catches your eye. The new list is unillustrated so the above photos are just to whet the appetite a little.

How would you have fared in a Victorian School?

Every now and again, a little piece of ephemera comes along that catches the imagination. This is the midsummer exam paper for 1894 at Trinity College, Glenalmond in Scotland: The General Paper. I've been having fun all weekend trying the different sections so I decided to share the fun today. I'm not offering any prizes, nor will there be any answers given as definitive by me but, if you want to have a bash or ask questions of others, you are more than welcome to use the comments below. Of course, Google will be your friend in sorting out more obscure answers but give it at least one go 'under exam conditions'.

So, quiet in the hall please, turn over your papers and begin....

I. In what works do the following characters appear:
1. Bardolph
2. Mr Pecksniff
3. Porthos
4. Mulvaney
5. Dominic Sampson
6. Gavin Dishart
7. Denys
8. Dr Watson
9 Alan Breck
10. Sir Toby Belch
11. Dr Primrose
12. Glumdalclitch
13. Ali Baba
14. Iago
15. Harry Warrington
16. Jeanie Deans
17. The Sieur de Marsac
18. Salvation Yeo

II. What are the distinctive national punishments of: 
1. Russia
2. France
3. England
4. Turkey
5. Spain
6. Japan

III. Who said:
1. They need is greater than mine
2. I die happy
3. We owe a cock to Aesculapius
4. England expects every man to do his duty
5. All taps is vanities
6. Is this a dagger which I see before me?
7. Remember Mitchelstown!
8. Paris is worth a mass
9. The butter's spread too thick
10. A sophistical rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity
11. Remember!
12. L'etat c'est moi
13. Ill mak'siccar

IV. Give the name of:
1. The Queen who drank a pearl
2. The General who gave his name to a waiting policy
3. The man who made the sun stand still
4. The King who let the cakes burn
5. The boy who stood on the burning deck
6. The Knight who charged at windmills
7. The Emperor who fiddled while Rome was burning
8. The King who turned locksmith
9. The King who had ass's ears
10. The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo
11. ". . . the face that launched a thousand ships / And burned the topless towers of Ilium"

V. Mention one living novelist in:
1. England
2. France
3. Germany
4. Hungary
5. Norway
6. America
7. Russia
8. Italy

VI. What are the following:
1. Blue Peter
2. Blue Pill
3. Bluejacket
4. Blue Stone
5. Blue-coat School
6. Blue Points
7. Blue Ribbonite
8. Blur Ribbon of the Turf
9. Blue Stocking
10. A Bolt from the Blue
11. A "Blue"
12. Blue Book
13. Blue Blood
14. Blue Moon
15. Blue Mountains
16. Blue Rock
17. Blue Ensign
18 "The Blue Pavillions"

VII For what are the following days remarkable:
1. 1st of January
2. 14th of February
3. The Ides of March
4. 1st of April
5. 19th of April
6. 24th of May
7. 29th of May
8. 18th of June
9. 4th of July
10. 12th of July
11. 14th of July
12. 12th of August
13. 20th of September
14. 5th of November
15. 9th of November

VIII. State profession, position, or reason for notoriety &c. (answers in one word where possible) of:
1. Mr Asquith
2. Mr Toole
3. Mr G du Maurier
4. Baron Hirsch
5. Mlle. Sarah Bernhardt
6. Dr. Benson
7. Mr Fry
8. The Duke of Cornwall
9. Mr Alma Tadema
10. Mr Selous
11. Messrs. Mudie & Co.
12. Herr Dowe
13. M. Casimir-Perier
14. Prof. Huxley
15. Signora Duse
16. Mme. Sarah Grand
17. Mr Spofforth
18. Humbert
19. Lord Russell of Killowen
20. Captain Mahan
21. Cesario Santo
22. Florence Nightingale
23. Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co.
24. Mr Bililngton
25. Mr G. M. Fenn
26. Mr Pinero
27. Mr Deibler
28. Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David
29. Sir William Arroll
30. Mr Keir Hardie
31. Mr Andrew Lang
32. Count Caprivi

IX. Complete the quotations:
1. Freinds, Romans
2. In the scene that ensued I did not
3. An arm clothed in white
4. How doth
5. Fools rush in
6. I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I
7. A thing of beauty
8. Footsteps that perhaps another sailing
9. Barkis is
10. All roads lead
11. There is no god but Allah and
12. Good morning, have you

X. Give the names of:
1. An order issued by the Czar
2. An order granted by the Sultan
3. A permit to travel in a foreign country
4. The most famous Cricket ground in England
5. The place where the Derby is run
6. The place where Shakespeare was born
7. The animal that changes colour
8. The material of a Bishop's sleeves
9. The owner of Ladas
10. The state between a caterpillar and a butterfly
11. The fabulous animal that kills at a glance
12. "The last infirmity of noble minds"
13. The colour of the lining of an Oxford M.A. hood
14. The burning of heretics by Spanish Inquisition
15. The material of a Q.C.'s gown
16. The owner of Britannia
17. The instrument for estimating temperature
18. The instrument for estimating humidity

XI. Give the meaning of:
1. H.P.S.
2. S.P.G
3. D.S.O.
4. Sp. Gr.
5. Sus. per. Coll.
6. R.A.
7. R.I.P.
8. R.S.V.P.
9. D.D.
10. MS.
11. K.C.S.I.
12. Q.E.F.
13. S.P.Q.R.
14. L.B.S.C.
15. B.N.C.
16. D.V.
17. da capo
18. Festina lente
19. ff.
20. O.H.M.S.
21. H.M.S.
22. A.A.A.
23. i.e.
24. V.C.
25. e.g.
26. Y.M.C.A.
27. R.T.Y.C.
28. C.U.B.C.
29. F.R.G.S.

XII Who wrote:
1. Monte Cristo
2. Alice in Wonderland
3. The Bab Ballads
4. Robinson Crusoe
5. Daniel Deronda
6. Esmond
7. The Canterbury Tales
8. The Doll's House
9. Antigone
10. Far From the Madding Crowd
11. Hard Cash
12. Two Gentlemen of Verona
13. The Pilgrim's Progress
14. The King's Quhair
15. Samson Agonistes
16. Childe Harolde
17. Katerfelto
18. Lorna Doone
19. The Inferno
20. The Epodes
21. The Life of Dr Johnson
22. The Moonstone
23. The Odyssey
24. In Memoriam
25. The Pharsalia
26. Utopia
27. The Wealth of Nations
28. The Rivals
29 Cato
30. Tam o'Shanter

XIII. Localise:
1. The Escurial
2. Yale
3. The Coliseum
4. "The Hub of the Universe"
5. La Scala
6. The Nevsky Prospect
7. San Marco
8. The Dent Blanche
9. Unter den Linden
10. The Brocken
11. Broadway
12. K2
13. Stonehenge
14. Hecla
15. The Elysee
16. Fingal's Cave
17. Antannanarivo
18. Charybdis
19. John o'Groats
20. The White House
21. Salt Lake City
22. Seven Dials
23. The Pillars of Hercules
24. The Piraeus
25. The Golden Gate

XIV. Give the number of:
1. Members of the House of Commons
2. Yards in the Quarter of a Mile
3. Legs on a Fly
4. Chief Stars in the Great Bear
5. Verses in the 119th Psalm
6. Books of the Aeneid
7. Individuals actually on the field in a cricket match
8. Volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica
9. Wings on an Apteryx
10. Acts in a classical English tragedy
11. Years the Queen has reigned
12. Direct Heirs to the throne
13. Miles in the Earth's radius
14. The "Beast"

XV. What names are chiefly connected with:
1. Discovery of America
2. Invention of the Spinning-Jenny
3. Introduction of the Potato
4. Law of Gravitation
5. Invention of Balloons
6. Elecropathic Belts
7. Safety Lamp
8. Late Tramp Army in America
9. Salvation Army
10. Chloroform
11. Vaccination
12. Treatment of Hydrophobia
13. The "Liberator" Frauds
14. The Lyceum Theatre
15. The present Budget Bill
16. Introduction of Printing into England.

XVI. Why are they following so called:
1. "Bradshaw"
2. Monday
3. Brougham
4. "Bobby"
5. Omnibus
6. Perambulator
7. Boycotting
8. Buttercup
9. Baedecker
10. Bicycle
11. "Gamp"
12. Tramway
13. Greenback
14. Mob
15. Hansom


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chinese Printed Texts

Given my love of typography and of all things ephemeral, these Chinese texts on tissue thin paper pressed quite a few buttons for me. I don't read Mandarin but as the pink one has the reference for a biblical text penned in English at the top I imagine these could be biblical translations used during the early 20th surge in Christian missionary work in China. The notion of these flyaway pieces of printed tissue paper surviving all that time with a message on them which obviously meant a lot to someone who decided to preserve them, is quite touching.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

An Edwardian Ghost Photograph

It's not unusual to find vintage photographs with 'ghosts' in, but the inverted commas are important because in the vast majority of cases these ghosts are accidental double exposures which, with vary degrees of success, cause an interesting result.

It is much more unusual to find a deliberate double exposure used to create the effect of an actual ghost in an image. It's a technique that has been used almost as long as photography has existed and it was used either to try and deceive, to provide a 'proof' of spectral or paranormal activity, or simply to create a narrative image. The latter is the case here in this photograph I found in an album the other day. On the verso is written, "The Gambler's Doom No. 2 observe the pistol" and, rather sweetly, we are given the participants names "Maurice and Norah". So this is not so much a morality play as a morality vignette. Sadly, the original is small and even with digital enhancement I can't quite be sure of the pistol is one of the objects on the table, or the thing in the gentleman's hand. Nonetheless, some shade of his past seems to be warning or welcoming or lamenting his action.

Vintage Men, Some in Swimwear

It's been a little while since we've had a gratuitous posting of vintage young men on this blog so, in the spirit of idling that the current UK heatwave seems to be engendering: may I offer these three images that arrived this morning.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't Try This At Home...

A short while ago I was enjoying a print from a medical book with a rather handsome young man being prodded all over by diagrammatic arrows diagnosing what ailments he may have. So I'm equally happy to receive these two images this morning of a strapping young man being given first aid and having the flow of his blood stopped in various ways. Don't try this at home because we have moved on from the days of tourniquets in first aid boxes I believe...

Sheila Bishop illustrates Moon Magic

These are some of the illustrations from Moon Magic. A Tale of Adventure by Hampden Gordon (John Murray, London: 1949), a kind of sub-Narnian fantasy about travelling to the moon by magic and the adventures to be had there, which resemble rather closely adventures one might have in classical Greece or some other mythic period. I am always tentative about saying things like, 'I can find little about Sheila Bishop' because one of you good people usually shows me some vast hoard of information freely available online that I have missed. But, I can find little about the illustrator: she doesn't feature in any of my reference books and I can find only one mention of her illustrating another book in online databases. Having said that, the name sounds very familiar and I can't shake the feeling that I've come across her before. Anyway, it's a shame not to know more because here are some wonderfully stylish and attractive illustrations and it would be nice to see more of her work.

Callum James Books Paperbacks

Having just released our latest, Albert & Otto. Albert Wainwright's Visual Diary of Love in the 20s, which has been well received by you all: thank you, I thought it might be a moment to remind everyone of the other titles we have available in paperback format. The top two are both available from Amazon, or through your local independent bookseller from their wholesaler: just quote the ISBN number. The Vincent O'Sullivan hasn't yet been upgraded to an ISBN but it can be bought direct from Callum James Books, just drop us a line using the email link to the right.

A Carnal Medium. Fin-de-siecle essays on the photographic nude. 
by Joseph Gleeson White, Robert H Cust, and James Rooth. 
Edited and with an introduction by James Downs.
ISBN: 9780957450103

The Romance of a Choir Boy
by John Gambril Nicholson
ISBN: 9780957450110

Aspects of Wilde
by Vincent O'Sullivan

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